The fitness world is evolving steadily as more and more studies are being conducted on how our bodies grow. As research shows, there are several new ways of building strength quicker and easier, such as sports medicine have been discovered. And BFR cuffs are one of them.
So, what do BFR cuffs do? And what are BFR cuffs’ benefits? In today’s article, we’ll explain to you the advantages and drawbacks of BFR cuffs. We will also be discussing how they might affect the user.
1. What Are BFR Cuffs?
BFR cuffs look like bands that you place at the proximal spot of your arm or leg while training. So, what does this do? When you wear BFR cuffs (Blood flow restriction cuffs), as its name suggests, their job will be to restrict blood flow to a certain extent to the muscle group on which you are wearing the cuffs.
Fresh oxygenated blood will still reach the muscle when doing this blood flow restriction training, but the venous blood will be restricted. Now, you might be a little confused, so let us elaborate.
When we are making our muscles work, it uses the oxygen from the blood that flows to them. After the oxygen has been used, the blood becomes deoxygenated and leaves with some waste products. So, by restricting its flow, these blood flow restriction bands prevent the venous blood (with waste products) from leaving the muscle.
2. What Happens When the Blood Flow Is Restricted?
These blood flow restriction training cuffs act like a tourniquet system, and when you work with these bands around its proximal point, the blood cannot leave the muscle easily.
When this happens, it means that less oxygen is being delivered to that muscle group. So, oxygen around that muscle becomes depleted faster, and increased hypertrophy is reached.
When someone lifts heavy weights, the muscle fibers are damaged. The way that our body repairs this is by something called muscle protein synthesis, which is essentially muscle growth. We will discuss all the benefits of blood flow restriction BFR training cuffs in greater detail.
3. Benefits of Wearing BFR Cuffs
Blood flow restriction training seems to be quite a promising training program in many ways, so let’s look at some of the benefits of BFR bands to see whether they are worth buying.
3.1 Greater Hypertrophy
As we have said in the previous section, this blood pressure cuff restricts blood from flowing away from the working muscle. Consequently, the oxygen is depleted quicker, and yours will reach increased muscle hypertrophy.
This is because the rate of protein synthesis in the working muscles will be greater, more metabolic stress is applied, and so there will be more cellular swelling.
Furthermore, signals are sent to the brain due to blood flow restriction to produce more growth hormones. This is known as occlusion training. As a result, you will gain more muscle mass, improving the user’s fitness levels.
So, this blood flow restriction training improves muscle growth as well as muscle strength. To put it into numbers, let’s talk about a study conducted comparing the effects of traditional strength training and blood flow restriction training.
Studies have shown that by traditional training loads, you will only be able to gain 80% of the strength you would with blood flow restriction therapy.
This study was conducted by candidates doing 30% of their one rep max by regular strength training, then with a BFR device. Thus, it is proven that BFR training can enhance hypertrophy and promote muscle growth by muscle activation.
3.2 Reduces Muscle Aging
When we grow older, our muscles often become weaker, which can create a lot of problems in normal mobility. While regular exercise such as traditional weight or resistance training will certainly be beneficial in mitigating the aging effects, BFR training may be better.
It promotes the secretion of more growth hormones, and then the body sends them to the muscles which have been worked.
That increases muscle size, prevents muscle atrophy, and also can improve aerobic capacity. Hence, when you grow older and exercise with BFR bands, you will feel stronger and have more endurance.
3.3 Better Benefits with Lighter Loads
Because of what BFR bands do by blood flow restriction, you can get better results with much lighter weights in terms of human performance and muscle size compared to results with normal high-load training.
Due to the hypoxic environment, you can train in a low-load environment (lifting lighter loads) and reap similar benefits to training with higher loads.
When doing the exercise properly with BFR bands at a lower intensity, you may get the same results as you would by performing high-intensity training, or you may even get better outcomes.
3.4 Increased Endurance
When we were discussing the anti-aging effects of blood flow restriction training, we mentioned that it increases endurance. How does it help with that?
It has been found that BFR training triggers a process known as angiogenesis. Through this process, more healthy blood vessels are produced, which increases the flow of blood to muscles when not exercising.
Better capillary beds will be formed in the muscles that you exercise. So when you’re doing your regular activities, more oxygenated blood will reach those muscles, and you’ll get less tired.
3.5 Helps People Have a Speedy Recovery
If you have something like knee pain, some muscle damage, or even go through serious adverse events, you will not be able to lift heavy weights. However, so that you can recover quicker, you want to gain strength. In such cases, blood flow restriction training will be very fruitful.
Since it provides great results when training with a lighter load, you will also be able to build muscle and increase strength without risking any further injuries.
3.6 It Can Be Used with All Exercises
You may have thought these cuffs could only be used for specific exercises. But the truth is you can wear them when doing almost any sort of workout, including walking! And the blood flow restriction training bands can be placed on all body limbs, and then you can perform any exercise.
If you are working on your arm muscles, then you will place them there, and for leg workouts, you will position them on your thighs close to your hips. We also have a thorough guide on how to use BFR bands if you want a more comprehensive guide.
3.7 Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
If you are someone who is active, you know what days of muscle soreness can cause. When you lift heavy weights, your muscle has microscopic tears, which can hurt quite a bit sometimes. The same also happens with BFR training, but the pain is more manageable since you work with lighter masses.
This can be a great thing because the soreness often demotivates people to continue with their workout regime.
4. Which Training Cuffs Are the Best?
BFR training is getting popular now, so a lot of companies are coming out with BFR cuffs that all promise to improve your endurance and muscle strength significantly. With so many options to choose from, which one should you get?
Although there are several great ones, the SAGA BFR cuffs are perhaps the overall best you could get your hands on.
These smart, automated training cuffs can be controlled by an application and implement IoT technology, among many other impressive features. It is a slightly expensive device, so if you’re on a budget, there are other great BFR cuffs you can choose from.
5. What Are the Drawbacks of Using BFR Cuffs?
While there are plenty of benefits of BFR, there are some concerns that you should take note of before you get one because they are an investment.
5.1 Train With a Professional
You will only be increasing muscle strength with BFR training if you know how to work with it properly. Hence, a trainer or physical therapist must show you how many reps you should do, in what position, etc.
You should also work with the proper equipment when you have the bands in a specific place so that you are able to get the full advantages of BFR.
For those of you who are using BFR bands for Rehabilitation gains, we would strongly advise you to consult with your doctor or physical therapist first.
It is best to do it in physical therapy to avoid risks. When you’re not doing the exercises at physical therapy, you may not have the right supervision, which can further exacerbate your injuries.
5.2 Takes More Time and Reps
In some cases, such as physical therapy, BFR training can actually get you done with your sessions quickly because you do not have to work with bulky weights.
However, in the gym, you will have to do more repetitions with the BFR cuffs because the weights you will be lifting probably be lighter and will exert less overall stress per repetition.