Blood Flow Restriction in Athletes: Did We Get it All Wrong? Must BFR-Cuffs be Worn After, not During Each Set?
|If that's you. It's well possible that you've done it all wrong. Wearing the cuffs after the set may be the way to go!|
In their study, the researchers from the Loughborough University in Leicestershire had their subjects, 28 healthy trained males who were cycling 120 ± 66 km per week, all cuffed up after each set of a standardized sprint training. That's very dufferent from trying to sprint with cuffs on your legs (and usually reduced intensity) and appears to be - that's at least what the study results suggest - a potential game-changer.
Now, the good news is: The study involved both an acute and chronic exercise + BFR study of the effects of post-spring-training blood flow restriction.
- In Study 1, a between groups design determined whether 4 weeks (2 d/wk) of SIT (repeated 30 s maximal sprint cycling) combined with post-exercise blood flow restriction (BFR) enhanced maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and 15km cycling time trial performance (15km-TT) compared to SIT alone (CON) in trained individuals.
- In Study 2, using a repeated measures design, participants performed an acute bout of either BFR or CON. Muscle biopsies were taken before and after exercise to examine the activation of signalling pathways regulating angiogenesis and mitochondrial biogenesis.
So, does the increase in VO2 have anything to do with my gainz? Directly? No. But if there's an effect on hypertrophy it would - just as the effect on VO2 found in the study at hand - depend on increases in the stress response. Now, the more recent studies have shown that the necessary reduction in weight lifted when you do it with cuffs makes it practically useless for athletes. So, in conjunction with the study at hand, it's only logical to ASSUME that using the hypoxic stress after a set COULD provide an ADDITIVE stimulus (normal BFR training takes away from the regular stimulus, because it will.force athletes to refuce the weights and cannot fully compensate for that | see the results of this study.The small advantage in the 15k time trial, on the other hand, did not reach statistical significance. That's "bad news", but the trend indicates that this might change with long(er) term studies.
|Figure 2: Changes (%) in physiological and performance variables before and after CON and BFR training interventions (Taylor. 2015).|
- Lindholm & Rundqist, et al. "Skeletal muscle HIF-1 and exercise." Experimental Physiology (2015): Accepted Article.
- Taylor, et al. "Acute and chronic effect of sprint interval training combined with post-exercise blood flow restriction in trained individuals." Experimental Physiology (2015): Accepted Article.