What is Occlusion or Blood flow restriction training?

Looking for something new to try to mix up your boring gym routine?  Want to build muscle by lifting less weight? Keen to get an insane pump?  Then try Occlusion training.

Occlusion means closure or blockage.  Occlusion training involves limiting the blood supply to the muscle or group of muscle being exercised.  This can be performed using wraps or straps.

How to do occlusion training

What happens?

When lifting weights there is a priority of muscle fibre type recruitment. There is a specific order that muscle fibre types are recruited, the recruitment process moves from slow twitch being recruited first then moving onto intermediates and then your fast twitch muscle fibres. The heavier the Weight you use the greater the amount of fast twitch muscle fibre is recruited.

The principle behind occlusion is that by reducing blood flow to your slow twitch muscle fibres prevents oxygen delivery and leads to pre exhaustion. As a result of this the intermediate and fast twitch muscle fibres are recruited earlier.   These fibres are usually only recruited when you go to failure or use heavy weights.

Occlusion training can be an extremely useful tool especially when recovering from an injury or operation.  However this is not it’s sole use and we can all benefit from introducing occlusion training.  Muscle hypertrophy will still occur despite using half the weight you would normally use.

During training when a muscle is being worked – (stretched and contracted) it releases its own growth factors (igf1) and (Mgf) instigating the muscle to grow.

When restricting blood flow to a specific muscle, its muscle growth factors that are produced during the set are kept in the same region, allowing them to interact with the muscle cell receptors signaling it to grow. During conventional training, many of these growth factors are flushed out through the capillaries, therefore missing the opportunity to interact with the muscle cell receptors.

When can It be used?

  • As the main principle of a training session.
  • At the end of a training session to maximise muscle pump.
  • During a de-loading training phase (reducing the amount of weight being used)
  • Occlusion training can be used frequently as it does not cause massive muscle damage compared to using heavy weights.

How to perform?

  • Wrap the strap around the top of the muscle you're working.  (Top of the arm, top of the leg for example).  Be sure to wrap both limbs.
  • Make sure it's wrapped tightly, approximately 70%  (this may feel a bit uncomfortable at first).
  • Using a LIGHT load superset.
  • Try not to loosen the straps whilst working approximately 3-5 minutes.
  •  Try super setting bicep curls with tricep rope extension 20 reps each 3-5 sets continuous.
  • Another good example is to super set leg extensions into hamstring curls.

DO NOT PERFORM IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS REGARDING THE TECHNIQUE OR YOUR GENERAL HEALTH.

DO NOT PERFORM IF YOU HAVE ANY BLOOD CLOTTING PROBLEMS OR ARE TAKING ANTICOAGULANTS.

DO NOT PERFORM IF YOU ARE FEELING GENERALLY UNWELL.

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