Top 5 Myths for Programming BFR
I'm in the process of writing an ebook on programming basics for blood flow restriction training (BFR). I started to jot down some ideas and concepts. I kept on coming back to these principles. So I figured as a precursor to the main event, I would include them in a blog. Look out for the product soon!
MYTH 1: Starting with bodyweight exercises is “too easy”.
For most patients and clients, bodyweight exercises are the way to start. This isn’t just for rehab patients, strength clients too! It’s safe, allows focus on form, and allows the body to adapt to the new metabolic environment you are imposing on it.
Some may progress away from bodyweight exercises quicker than others. That’s fine. Don’t get caught up in the weeds of it “being too easy”. Trust me, you can use body weight exercises for longer than you think and still see considerable improvements.
MYTH 2: Adding resistance is not the only way to progress a patient or client.
The simplest way to progress a client or patient is to add resistance. But that doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way. One of my favorite ways to progress with BFR is by changing tempo, particularly in simpler exercises early in the rehab process.This alters time under tension (TUT) and focuses more on a particular aspect of the isotonic contraction.
For instance - consider changing a tempo of 2020 to 2230 to have more emphasis on an isometric hold after the concentric contraction and slightly longer eccentric return. But make sure to consider how this might change other programming variables volume.
Just remember - research shows that increasing restriction of the BFR cuff above 50% LOP for UE or 80% for LE does NOT provide greater stimulus for hypertrophy. So don’t use this as a way to progress - you’ll only be hurting our patient or client’s progress. Check out this video to learn how to use a Doppler ultrasound to determine limb occlusion pressure (LOP).
MYTH 3: I can only use BFR with land based exercises and young populations.
Using a manual pneumatic BFR cuff has a significant advantage over other options - it’s PORTABLE. This allows you to utilize out in the field including the water!
For instance, consider using BFR with swimming or with aquatic therapy for rehab patients. I’ve had good success having patients use during the boring low intensity pool therapy exercises.
And don't forget about Grandma and Grandpa - if proper evaluation and screening is done prior to use, BFR is SAFE and effective at improving overall muscle mass in the older and elderly populations.
MYTH 4: BFR is limited to resistance training.
It’s true that BFR became popular in the strength and bodybuilding communities. It makes sense as Research has consistently shown that it improves the local and systemic environments for muscular hypertrophy and growth and repair.
But be creative in how you use it. Anyone with muscles and who is using muscle to perform can use BFR. Cardio, strengthening, aquatics, hiking, running intervals at the track - the list goes on! Check out this video of examples for using BFR with cardio and strengthening.
MYTH 5: BFR is a replacement for traditional strength training.
No. Nope. Never.
BFR is a great adjunct to therapeutic exercise or strength training.But it should NEVER replace good old strength training. Lifting heavy stuff provides benefits, such as neuromuscular adaptations, that BFR cannot. Whenever it is appropriate for someone to lift heavy, do that the majority of the time!
Use BFR as adjunct ONLY - during deload weeks, as part of a recovery strategy, to improve aerobic capacity, or as a way to transition someone in rehab.