I don’t think I’ve ever thought of it as a “whoosh,” but progression in resistance exercise, like weight gain/loss, is certainly not linear.
I think I might have that limited mod superpower already. I’ll test it out.
Edit: It seems like it’s in the Exercise_Weightlifting on my end. I assume it’s that way everywhere. Let me know if it’s not there when you look.
Did my first full BFR workout today, using recently arrived pneumatic cuffs. The system has you start at a moderate pressure, and will then adjust subsequent workouts based on feedback. I did upper body (15 minutes - bicep curl, tricep extension, wrist curl) and lower body (15 minutes - squat, calf raise, hip extension.) I definitely felt the pump, but didn’t go to failure or feel an incredible burn. Next session will bump the pressure up, based on my feedback to this session.
I’m also experimenting with BFR on legs for first twenty minutes of my walks… Feels significantly different, especially in hamstrings and quads.
Sweet! What kind did you get?
B Strong - The app that comes with it recommends starting pressures and adjusts each workout, based on subjective feedback after the previous workout.
Did you have elastic bands previously or did you go straight for the pneumatic ones?
I went straight for the pneumatic bands. Have been reading research and considering for months, and thought it worth the investment for reproducibility, control, and safety.
Been following (and enjoying!) this thread immensely. Thanks again to all for sharing your invaluable insights and experiences thus far.
Here’s my small contribution, from the “Well That’s Cheap” subcategory…
- Went to the fabric store, bought a few yards of elastic, metal D rings, and some velcro.
- Sewed velcro onto the elastic/rings, as seen on TV.
- Tested these home-brew BFR bands. They worked just fine.
- Realized that even the metal rings/velcro weren’t necessary.
- Took a raw piece of elastic and just wrapped it neatly around my upper arm.
- Works like a charm.
Don’t get me wrong. As a data geek, I’d love to try a pneumatic pump with measurable/repeatable info to track. I could add the data to my never-ending spreadsheet of fun n=1 bio-facts.
But as a frugal geezer, I feel pumped at the idea of getting plenty of BFR bands for about $3. (Will apply the savings to more red meat.)
I would strongly recommend against doing this. BFR bands are carefully designed to spread the pressure over a wider surface area to achieve veinous occlusion while minimizing the risk of arterial occlusion and nerve damage (both are extremely bad for obvious reasons). Tourniquets and a BFR bands are visually similar, but the difference can be ascertained by the trip to the ER and the nerve damage…
I’m not saying it’s impossible to make a homemade occlusion band, but in the very least consider using knee-wraps, which are much wider and sometimes used for this purpose. This was how it was done in Japan in the early decades of research into what was originally called kaatsu training. Keep in mind also, that your muscle will grow in diameter during the workout, so the wrapping should be done with this in mind. This is a bit trickier than a regular BFR band, but people do it.
I’m so cheap I shop go clothes shopping at the Salvation Army and I can my own food for the pantry, but when it came to BFR straps, I happily plunked down the money without a second thought. BFR is not risk free. A good set of BFR bands costs about $30 with delivery from Amazon.
I know I sound like a preachy worry-wart, but I just want everybody to be as safe as possible while doing this.
Just my 2 cents.
I have a set of $30 elastic ones, and a pneumatic set. As a data nerd, it was points 1 and 2 that were of greatest interest to me . I wanted to make sure if I was carefully tracking reps from workout to workout, I could be certain I was comparing apples to apples. Strictly speaking, it’s not necessary in order to achieve the benefits of BFR, but I enjoy over-analyzing stuff. I’m the kind of guy who buys an indirect calorimeter to measure his resting metabolic rate during fasting. Was it necessary? No. Was it fun? Yes!!!
Personally, I spent enough time working in heavy industry during my misspent youth that I spend extra money on safety and piece of mind by default these days. Losing coworkers made me cautious, but waking up after an amputation made me “Safety Sam” pretty much overnight. Either that or all those safety videos must have eventually seeped through my thick skull…
As far as actual risk goes though, I’m not sure how much safer they are than regular BFR bands during the course of normal use. Where safety can come into play is if you want to ride the “Pressure to %1RM” curve. If you want to optimize benefit while using very low weights, pressure needs to be up around 80% of arterial occlusion pressure (vs 40% in normal use). That’s flying a bit close to the sun to just be guessing! To do that, you still need to get a handheld doppler ultrasound to measure the precise point of arterial occlusion in each limb like they do in a clinical setting. I’m curious to test that out one of these days.
My 2 cents on band options
I’m limited on BFR bands, only two brands deliver to my country.
I’m very satisfied with my arm bands, but the leg bands have been bugging me: I can’t tighten them properly and one band’s metal ring twists, loosening the pressure+digs uncomfortably into my skin. The new bands will be the blue kind that Don posted.
@Don_Q I very much appreciate your advice to be prudent. It clearly applies to all of this BFR stuff!
I fully agree that a trip to the ER would constitute a major FAIL.
Even with the most advanced/costly apparati, it’s easy to do BFR incorrectly (= dangerously). Having read not just these posts but, most importantly, all of the readily available scientific research now publicly available, an appropriate surface area, tension, and % of RM1 “combination” are all jointly essential to good safety.
Again, fully agree. 80% occlusion would be “too close to the sun” for me too. I don’t want to flirt with the boundaries of safety in anything I do in life … no less when it comes to exercise intended to improve health (i.e., not to risk compromising it).
So, when using loose elastic bands, the key is to select an appropriate width and to manage the tension prudently.
For those of us who will not be checking our arterial/venous circulation using Doppler technology (!) this means carefully (and regularly) checking blood flow refresh rates, like pressing against flesh (e.g., thumb pressed against palm tissue).
One needs to stay on top of this whether you’re using a simple phlebotomist’s tourniquet or the most advanced gear commercially available. Anything less than seeing how one’s own body is responding would be malpractice - regardless of who’s doing the practice.
Having said all this, I don’t see any reason why a simple unadorned elastic wrap - when properly applied - can’t accomplish everything that BFR is intended to achieve. But I also greatly appreciate the warning: doing this incorrectly is an extremely bad idea.
FWIW, I intend to test the idea of sewing a simple clasp onto one end of the elastic (“luggage-strap” style) and thread the other end into it to make for an easier-to-manage and even quicker/easier release feature. This is basically what many of those retail BFR bands are all about anyhow. (I’m not trying to be cheap just for the sake of frugality … I just hate spending $30 for what I could easily replicate at home for $3 )
In the spirit of your sound counsel, hopefully everyone wandering down the BFR rabbit hole takes the time to read the clinical trial-based science that’s publicly available. And learns from threads like this what others have experienced along the way.
Thanks again for your encouraging reminder to stay safe.
It just dawned on me that you didn’t mean first workout with the new bands, you meant first BFR workout ever. Hooray! Congrats! Welcome to the club…
I’ve been meaning to do this, but I have never gotten around to it. You’ve reminded me to try this out. I bet it does feel really weird!
My dog thanks you in advance for the extra walk…
Thanks! I’ll be fiddling around for a while trying to see how this fits with my HIRT workouts.
Not exactly sure what I hope to accomplish with BFR while walking, but I generally walk 2-6 miles a day, and figured it would add an extra dimension. I definitely noticed the increased metabolic stress / heart rate, both walking and when exercising this morning.
I’m definitely not saying it can’t be done; BFR was pioneered in Japan with knee wraps, and they’re still used pretty extensively there to this day. If you’ve read the literature, and you’re following the width specifications, it can absolutely be done. If you’re checking a pulse in the limbs and doing the capillary refill tests as well, it can be done pretty safely. It sounds like you’ve done your homework. BFR isn’t rocket science to be sure.
I’m willing to pay a premium for purpose built bands for piece of mind, but everybody is different. I’ve said my piece safety-wise, so I’ll leave it at that.
Keep checking those pulses, play it safe, don’t over-tighten things, and let us know how BFR is working out for you.
Here is an interesting study of muscle hypertrophy while walking. In the study, they did the BFR restriction in 5 two-minute bouts with one minute rest between bouts. Even with this minimalist workout, they still managed to achieve a measurable hypertrophy. The control group had no measurable change. I would guess that 20 minutes straight would have a more significant effect!
Read that one, among many. That’s why I figured it would be worth trying. I don’t have plans to do detailed measurement, but will see how it feels and judge holistically. I tend to change too many factors at a time to judge one intervention very well.
Thanks; will do.
FWIW, for now I’m just working a little arm-only BFR into my existing HIIT/slow-burn resistance sessions. So far, I’ve used a mere 5 lb. hand weight one-arm-at-a-time into a bicep preacher curl. Two sets of 30/15/10/10 at a 1 rep/second pace; 30" rests in between and carefully checking capillary refresh.
I’m pretty lean and vascular to begin with, so it’s readily clear that I’m applying enough occlusion that my veins are filled even more than “my normal.” Still, this is pretty tame stuff.
I’m using this mild start to gain a feel for what the occlusion is supposed to feel like, and I constantly test for palm capillary refill.
Frankly, I haven’t even felt a lactic burn - so it’s likely I’m erring on the side of not enough wrap tension. That’s okay by me since personally I can’t make any sense out of that “7 out of 10” guidance - for me that’s a useless suggestion as I can’t relate to a subjective ordinal (non-cardinal) scale.
However, what I do observe is that - despite my gentle approach - that my arms/fingers feel quite cold for some time after the workout even though they’re nicely flush with circulation. I wonder: do others experience this too? No one seems to mention this, at least that I’ve noticed.
In case it matters, I should mention that my blood pressure (shortly after BFR) comes in at under 120 over 70 (pulse 69), which is just slightly higher than usual - but barely so. So perhaps the cold sensation has something to do with generally low blood pressure. Who knows.
Okay, now we’re getting really fancy.
Plenty of size combinations/colors available. Some assembly required …
If you’re gonna get real fancy, I’d suggest a cam lock…
They cinch more securely. This is particularly important on the leg bands during things like air squats. A standard ladderlock may not perform as well in a use case where tension is changing throught the movement. By the 75thth rep, it’s likely to have slipped.