I’ve heard about this, but is anyone actually doing this outside of a few researchers? Seems to be promising, but are there commercial products for doing this that you can purchase and take to the gym?
The application of blood flow restriction (BFR) training has received increased attention in managing sarcopenia. BFR is accomplished using a pneumatic cuff on the proximal aspect of the exercising limb. Two main methods of exercise, aerobic exercise and resistance exercise, have been applied with BFR in treating sarcopenia. Both methods can increase muscle mass and muscle strength to a certain extent. Intricate mechanisms are involved during BFRT. Currently, the presented mechanisms mainly include responses in the blood vessels and related hormones, such as growth factors, tissue hypoxia-related factors and recruitment of muscle fiber as well as muscle satellite cells. These mechanisms contribute to the positive balance of skeletal muscle synthesis, which in turn mitigates sarcopenia. As a more suited and more effective way of treating sarcopenia and its comorbidities, BFRT can serve as an alternative to traditional exercise for people who have marked physical limitations or even show superior outcomes under low loads. However, the possibility of causing stress or muscle damage must be considered. Cuff size, pressure, training load and other variables can affect the outcome of sarcopenia, which must also be considered. Thoroughly studying these factors can help to better determine an ideal BFRT scheme and better manage sarcopenia and its associated comorbidities. As a well-tolerated and novel form of exercise, BFRT offers more potential in treating sarcopenia and involves deeper insights into the function and regulation of skeletal muscle.
Exercise, including aerobic training and resistance training, can improve the condition of sarcopenia (18). However, there is a growing body of literature that recognizes the importance of blood flow restriction (BFR) training (19). BFR is conducted by applying a pneumatic cuff on the proximal end of the exercising limb. This cuff blocks the return of venous and partially occludes arterial blood flow in the arteriovenous junction, leading to a decrease in blood flow and inducing increased metabolic stress (20).
The issue of BFRT (BFR training) has received considerable critical attention as it increases muscle strength and size at a much lower intensity. The aim of this review is to describe the management of sarcopenia and provide an overview of the underlying mechanisms of BFRT that result in beneficial consequences in treating sarcopenia and rehabilitating skeletal muscles, comparing the advantages and disadvantages of BFRT in curing sarcopenia and discussing the variables that affect the outcomes of therapy and the future applications of BFRT.
It’s amazing how many and varied the paths to fight to age and increase hypertrophy there are.
My own personal belief is that sarcopenia is age-related mainly because people retire and don’t exercise enough. I see other “old” fit men at the gym and we don’t suffer from sarcopenia because we exercise. I really don’t desire or need to be any stronger than I am. I have only been getting stronger since I retired. Is there a plateau on the horizon?
I haven’t reached it yet.
I’ve been doing BFR for some time. By using relatively light weights I avoid injury, yet reach a maximum level of lactic acid pain 4 times in 4 successive sets.
The method has produced visible and measurable improvement. Is it as effective in building muscle mass as heavy weight? Probably not, but its hard to compare my daily exercise these days with my younger days spending hours at Vic Tanny’s 3 times a week.
I just finished doing my 4 sets of high rep dumbbell inclines with 25 lbs, in about 5 minutes. I could ordinarily do low reps with 40 lbs, possibly 45. Its extremely efficient in terms of results for the amount of time per exercise. I also get slight breathlessness so I assume cardio benefits as well. Definitely my workout of choice whenever possible.
So on sale at half price - an easy band to put on and release - between sets. The pneumatic pumps versions (smart cuff) seemed cumbersome - Dr. Attia prefers smart cuff - he had used the BFR Bands (cranked/york them to a 7 out of 10 pain) – hmmm I think I can get use to my norm. So will go the bands.
Found these BFR Bands Pro on Amazon and the independent reviews sold me. Just ordered 2 sets at these low prices. Will use when I get back from vacation in a week. Going to Cocoa Beach. Don’t mind the shirtless - swimsuit life at all. Even at 64 years.
This independent reviewer, Nick Nilsson - good Swede name - lol, said it all. Why look at another. Sold me on this super easy to use product
I’ve been doing BFR training for about four years. It is much more powerful than just lifting. But as Peter Attia has described above, you do feel really wasted after a BFR workout.
There are several commercial products out there. I wouldn’t use just bands. Although they will restrict blood flow, there are several problems: you can’t know how tight they were every time so you aren’t able to train at the same level, and more importantly, it is very easy to overrestrict blood flow which can cause serious issues like a stroke. So you want to get bands that are attached to an inflator that has some way of measuring the restriction. The best in my view, and the one I have been using, is the Kaatsu system, which has a little electronic controller that tells you exactly 1. how tight the bands are without inflation and 2. how tight they are when inflated. it comes with both arm and leg bands. The other system I have used is the Bstrong bands. This is much less expensive and uses a small hand pump and inflation pressure meter to tell you how much pressure you have used. It was started by Dr Jim Stray-Gundersen, who trains Olympic skiers in Utah. He once worked for Kaatsu but left in one of those business disputes that remain murky. Kaatsu was founded by the Japanese doctor who invented BFR, but the company is now based in the US and not connected with him. If you try it, my advice: go very slowly. A 15 minute workout will leave your arms feeling like rubber. I’d be glad to answer any other questions.
You do not want to use blood pressure cuffs for BFR training under any circumstances. The way a sphygmomanometer like the kind in your doctor’s office works is by completely blocking blood flow. You sit with you arm extended and it remains inflated for just a few seconds. If used for weight training, those cuffs could cause a blood clot or worse.
This is a fascinating muscle hack. Do you use only on arms and/or limbs?
Some of the links reference injury and high performance athletes. And narrow muscle group impact.
How practical is this for whole body muscle adaptation?
We have 600 muscles in our bodies, and preventing sarcopenia and frailty is likely dependent on the entirety of musculature being in a hypertrophic and high strength state. When I do resistance exercise I am trying to impact as many muscle groups as possible.