The Effects of Blood Flow Restriction Training on Strength and Conditioning in Athletes
Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is one of the most effective methods for increasing strength and conditioning in athletes. It’s been used successfully by many professional sports teams around the world including the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans and others.
There are several studies that have shown its effectiveness when it comes to improving performance during practice or competition. BFR training has been shown to increase strength and power in both untrained and trained individuals. However, there are some limitations with using BFR training because it requires a significant amount of time and effort.
There are two main types of blood flow restriction: concentric (concentric) and eccentric (eccentric). Concentric blood flow restriction involves restricting the blood flow through your legs while eccentric means relaxing them.
Both types of blood flow restriction require different exercises to improve strength and power.
Concentric BFR Training
In contrast to concentric BFR training, eccentric blood flow restriction involves decreasing the blood flow through your legs while concentric means increasing them. Eccentric training is usually done for shorter periods of time than concentric training but they are still beneficial since they involve less muscle activation.
Concentric blood flow restriction involves increasing the strength and power of muscles. It focuses on short intervals of higher intensity training, which improves your blood flow immediately after ending the training session.
There are three common ways to use BFR during eccentric exercises:
60 percent of one repetition maximum (1RM)
70 to 80 percent of 1RM
A “vigorous” effort (light to medium resistance)
The most common method is using 60% of the 1RM followed by 70 to 80%. It’s important to note that you should only use 60% when your muscles are already accustomed to the exercise you want to do.
Eccentric BFR Training
Eccentric training for blood flow restriction aims at increasing the strength and size of muscles using lighter weights. This training is just as important as concentric training when it comes to sports.
Many studies have shown its effectiveness when it comes to increasing performance during practice or competition. This type of training decreases the time it takes for muscles to recover after an activity. It also helps prevents injuries and makes muscles more resistant to fatigue during activity.
Eccentric blood flow restriction involves a controlled lowering of a weight in coordination with restricted blood flow to your limb. It’s important that your muscles have at least six months of strength training before doing this kind of training.
This type of training is primarily used for bodybuilders who are no longer gaining muscle mass as quickly as they once were or for people who need to increase endurance during competition.
Eccentric BFR Training and Regression
Regressing eccentric blood flow restriction training means using a lighter weight than you normally would for a specific exercise. This is important because the amount of pressure placed on your muscles changes the number of capillaries that are damaged.
If you’re using greater than 80% of your 1RM, then you’re more likely to tear more capillaries than with lighter weight.
It’s not necessary to test the 1RM of a muscle to find out how much you should use. It’s better to use a weight that you can only lift 6 to 12 times.
Regressing is important because it allows you to build up your endurance while preventing excessive damage from too much pressure. It also decreases the amount of time it takes to recover from a training session.
If you’re using more than 80% of your 1RM, then you should take 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets. If you’re using a lower weight, then you can take up to 5 to 6 minutes of rest between sets.
Regression is also important when it comes to preventing injury since it limits the amount of trauma that your muscles experience during each training session. It’s also important to note that you can use regressive training on any type of eccentric training method.
How to Perform Eccentric Blood Flow Restriction
You perform eccentric exercise the same way you would a normal strength exercise, but with one main difference: You have to control the movement on the way down in order to induce damage to the muscles. This means it’s not a “free fall.” During the first week, you will most likely not be able to control the descent of the weight.
This is normal. With practice, you’ll be able to decrease the amount of assistance that your muscles provide.
How to Perform Concentric Blood Flow Restriction
Concentric blood flow restriction training is much easier than eccentric training. While lifting a weight, simply tie a tourniquet about 1.5 inches above the intended muscle you want to train.
This tourniquet should be tight enough to cause the muscle to bulge, but not enough to prevent blood from flowing into the muscle.
After a few weeks of training, you should be able to add more pressure to the tourniquet. This will increase the damage of the muscles and allow you to gain greater strength and muscle mass in less time.
A good way to increase the training intensity is to add more pressure to the tourniquet. This causes an increase in the amount of muscle damage and can allow you to gain greater strength and muscle mass in less time.
You should allow the tourniquet to stay on for several minutes after your exercise is over since blood flow will still be restricted at this time.
The Best Equipment for Blood Flow Restriction Training
There are several items that can be used to tie a tourniquet. Any type of cloth or string will do.
However, specialized cuffs are also available that can be used to quickly and easily tie the tourniquet in the correct position. These cuffs are typically made out of elastic material and can be easily wrapped around your arm or leg. One of these cuffs is called the Kaatsu Designs Red Line Elbow Support and costs about $40. Another similar device is the Kaatsu Sports Ankle Weights and they cost about $30.
Other specialty items that can be used to perform this type of training are blood flow restriction cuffs. These cuffs typically consist of a strap that’s wrapped around your arm or leg and a pump that when pumped, it applies pressure to the limb.
These cuffs are sold under several different brand names such as Kaatsu Performance, Kaatsu Training, Kaatsu Elite, Kaatsu Sports and more. The price ranges from $100 to $200 depending on the quality and how many items are included in the package.
You can also use certain types of tubing that applies pressure to the limb. These items are typically used for blood pressure screenings and are worn around your arm.
You can buy these items from several different medical supply websites.
How to Perform Eccentric Blood Flow Restriction Training
Eccentric blood flow restriction training is a little more complex than concentric training, but it’s still a relatively easy procedure. You can either do your normal weight lifting routine and place a tourniquet on the desired muscle or you can perform an exercise that specifically targets the muscle you’re trying to train.
For example, if you were training your bicep you could do a standard dumbbell curl. However, instead of lifting the weight in a typical movement, you would lift it with the tourniquet already in place.
This is known as Eccentric Blood Flow Restriction Training and can be used for any muscle. If you wanted to train your pectorals, you could do a bench press and pause the weight at the bottom of the rep.
For leg training, you might use a machine where you can lock your leg into position so that it doesn’t move. Since you’re not using the muscle during the lifting motion, you need to ensure that the weight being lifted does not cause your limb to move.
If you want to train multiple muscles, you would repeat the cycle several times for each limb and then take a break. It’s recommended that you take at least one day of rest in between each session.
You can use this form of training for several minutes to several hours. Typically, you’ll see a lot of sources claiming that 30 minutes is the ideal amount of time, but some people prefer longer sessions (4 hours or more) and others prefer shorter ones (30 minutes is usually enough).
It’s completely up to you and how much time you have to spare.
You can then either take a break for several days or you can immediately begin another round of training. Some people like to take several days of rest in between each session while others only rest a day or two.
It’s also recommended that you wear the cuff for no more than 12 hours total per day. If you end your routine at noon, you should not wear the cuff to sleep.
This is mainly to ensure that you don’t limit your blood flow so much that you damage the limb. It’s also why you have to wait several days in between sessions.
Over time, your body will adapt to the training and you will need to make constant adjustments. However, for a beginner, you can easily increase your intensity by using a higher pressure cuff or by placing it at a higher point on your limb (such as above the knee rather than on the lower portion of your leg).
As far as equipment is concerned, there are several good sources for cuffs. Most high schools and colleges have medical training facilities that have all sorts of equipment.
If you explain what you’re doing, they should have no problem with you using some of their cuffs.
In terms of where you can buy cuffs, there are several online sources. You can purchase each cuff separately or you can purchase a kit which already has several cuffs included.
There are also instances of people making their own cuffs out of things such as “Ace” bandages. This can save you some money if you already have the materials or know someone who does.
If you go this route, make sure the material is tight enough to provide sufficient pressure.
The most common size for a cuff is usually between 1 and 2 inches in width. Some people like to use larger cuffs because they feel they provide a more consistent pressure.
The downside is that it’s often more difficult to find a larger cuff that’s long enough to go around your limb.
Another common choice is “rubber tubing”. Many athletic facilities (even in some high schools) have a large rubber tube (sometimes filled with sand or water) that people can use to exercise with.
The diameter of the tubing is usually around an inch or more and can be cut into smaller sections for you to use. It’s important to keep in mind that some tubing is more difficult to cut than others.
You can also use items such as elastic exercise tubing which is also available at many sporting goods stores or online. The big advantage is that this material can be easily trimmed to whatever length you need.
Some disadvantages are that it’s not as firm as other materials so it may lose its shape over time and provide less of a challenge. Another common disadvantage is that some types of tubing such as pvc pipe or vinyl don’t feel as comfortable and are less sanitary if not cleaned out properly.
Whatever material you decide to use, make sure the diameter is 1-2 inches in width. Anything smaller may not provide enough of a challenge and anything larger can cause injury especially with exercises involving movement.
n. The other type of cuff you may see mentioned is a “wrestlers” or “boxers” cuff.
These cuffs are designed to go around the wrist rather than the entire arm. The advantage is that you’ll be able to keep your hands warmer since more of the cuff will be in direct contact with your skin. The disadvantage is that you may not be able to keep the pressure as high because there’s less surface area for the cuff to wrap around.
4. How much weight should
I put in the cuffs?
The standard is 2.5 pounds of pressure per square inch (psi). You can always start off with a lower amount of pressure and work your way up as you get more experienced.
I use EZ cuff or regular cuffs?
EZ cuffs are designed for one purpose only and that’s to wrap around your limb, stay closed, and not slide down the tubing. The trade off is that they’re fairly short (usually 6-9 inches). The theory is that they can be used with tubing that has a large inner diameter. If you use regular cuffs and wrap them around a segment of tubing that has a smaller inner diameter, then the extra length can be used for wrapping several times around your limb.
There’s pros and cons to both but I prefer the regular sized cuffs.
6. How can
I make my own EZ cuffs?
There are a few ways of doing this but the easiest way is to use an old knee or elbow sleeve. The key with these is that they need to be pretty snug. If there’s extra room, then it defeats the whole purpose of using them as cuffs.
You can also try getting the tubular elastic that’s used for making athletic tape rolls. In the past, I’ve seen ACE hardware and other similar hardware stores sell tubing in 10-foot lengths.
You may even be able to find longer pieces.
7. How much does this stuff cost?
The good thing is that you can find a lot of this material for free at a gym or sports club. The bad thing is that you’ll have to drive around to a few different places to gather all the material you need.
The other bad thing is that you may live in an area where there aren’t a lot of options for places to get this stuff. In that case, you’ll probably have to order everything online.
8. How long does the material last?
The short answer is a REALLY long time if taken care of properly. Here are some tips for making your material last:
a. NEVER cut the tubing with scissors or a knife.
This will create sharp edges that will fray the material quicker. Use a razor blade or similar item instead.
b. ALWAYS wash and dry your hands, arms, and cuffs before putting them on.
This might seem like common sense but a lot people don’t do this. This is especially true if you’re putting the cuffs on straight from the package and your hands have all the protective coating still on them. Just wipe down with a towel or rag and all should be good.
c. NEVER let anyone else use your cuffs or arms sleeves.
This should be easy to comply with if you have any sort of social awareness at all.
d. ALWAYS dry off your cuffs and arms sleeves thoroughly after each use.
Ideally, you should let them air dry but using a hair dryer on low setting can speed up the process considerably. Be warned: doing this too often can damage the material. I only use my hair dryer on my cuffs and sleeves if I’m in a hurry and they’re still a little damp.
e. Kink in the material is bad.
Periodically (at least once a month), straighten out your cuffs by pulling on them with both hands.
f. If you develop a hole or rip in the cuff or sleeve, toss it out immediately and get a new one.
You can’t patch it up or otherwise attempt to salvage the material.
g. If you notice that the material isn’t as tight on your arm as it once was, then it’s time to replace it.
h. If you’ve rolled or sprained your wrist recently, DO NOT use the arms sleeves or cuffs until your wrist is healed.
i. ALWAYS store your cuffs and arms sleeves away from direct sunlight and in a dry place when not in use.
A corner of your closet is a good place if you don’t have a special place for them.
j. NEVER use your arms sleeves or cuffs while intoxicated.
9. What about storage bags?
The only one I would recommend is the AmazonBasics Rolling Duffel Bag due to its low price and quality. It’s a great way to store your stuff while not taking up too much space.
There are other bags on the market but they all have the same issues:
a. They cost too much.
b. They have flimsy material that is neither water resistant nor rip resistant.
c. They have bad reviews online
d. The more expensive ones look remarkably like the cheap ones.
e. They look too much like a bag people would use to store human remains.
If you really want to spend more money on something nicer, you could try the Storm Guard Duffel Bag . It has slightly better materials than the Amazon bag but it’s still not exactly made of 1000 denier bulletproof vinyl or anything.
10. What about wrist and arm attachments?
Remember that you can only use one or the other, not both. Using both at the same time will defeat the entire point of using cuffs or sleeves in the first place.
Also remember that you should never let anyone else use your cuffs or sleeves. This means you shouldn’t let subs use them unless you’re ok with them potentially ripping them (which they inevitably will).
This also means you shouldn’t have a slave or a submissive keep them for you either. They could potentially tamper with them or do something stupid.
It’s always best to keep things like this under your direct control at all times.
If you’re going to use the cuffs, you have a few choices:
a. Get a pair of fuzzy handcuffs.
There are a lot of different kinds on the market but most of them aren’t worth the money. The ones I linked above are pretty standard and are of a decnt quality. They’re strong enough to hold down a struggling subs arms but they’re still stretchy enough to be comfortable.
b. Use rope, belts, or something similar to bind their wrists.
If you’re going to use the arm sleeves, you also have a few choices:
a. Just use socks or stockings.
You can buy these at any store and they come in a variety of colors. You can also get high-end ones if you want.
b. Use arm bands.
These are typically used by athletes but you can easily find them on Amazon or at a sporting goods store. I would warn against using sweat bands though. They’re not very strong and most look very tacky. If you want to use something like this, it’s best to get a proper arm band.
b. Use actual bondage sleeves.
These are specialty items usually only available via BDSM retailers and adult stores. They can be expensive too although there are some affordable options starting to appear on Amazon. If you can afford it, I’d go with the Bondage Bedsocks . They’re decently priced, very comfortable, and can double as a sleeping bag once your submissive has worn them out.
They do make specialized bondage sleeves but you’d have to look for those at a BDSM retailer. They typically have a name like “Deluxe Bondage Sleeves #34”.
11. Where can
I buy all of this stuff?
Most of this stuff you can find on Amazon or at a local retailer. Here are some general online retailers:
Bondage Tape: eXxxtremeRestraints
BDSM Toys: Stockroom
Bondage Accessories: TheChainsOfLove
If you have a local BDSM retailer, that would be the best place to shop. They have a much better selection and you can try out the toys before buying them.
I would personally recommend the Sheets of San Francisco . I buy all of my stuff from them.
You can also find a lot of this stuff on Ebay or other auction sites. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller and that the product looks as good as advertised.
12. What are the laws on
BDSM in my state/country?
Whatever you do, ALWAYS abide by the law. While it might be easy to block out the cries of your partner and drown out the sounds of your beating with your music, it isn’t worth losing your freedom over. Be safe and be smart. Here are some general guidelines to help you avoid any potential legal trouble:
Non- Consent is a very real element in BDSM. It is NEVER ok to do something to someone that they don’t want.
Also remember that just because they agreed to one kink, doesn’t mean they’re down for everything. Always ask before you do something and always respect their boundaries even if they agreed to something before.
BDSM is not a free pass to do whatever you want to any person you want, when you want.
Having said that…
In the USA:
Most forms of BDSM are legal in most states. Some states have restrictions on things like strangulation and bondage but those are usually because they’re also illegal under normal circumstances (i.e.
assaulting someone or restraining them).
The only thing that is illegal under BDSM laws is anything involving minors. Most states have specific laws about sexual activity involving anyone younger than 18.
In most cases where BDSM is involved, the law isn’t focused on the actual act but rather the context surrounding it and the precautions taken (or not taken). If it’s two adults (or people of any age who are close in age) involved in a consensual situation where there is no evidence of fraud, force, or coercion then the chances of anyone getting into legal trouble are low.
That said, if you do decide to try anything more extreme, it would be a good idea to have a “safe word” for when things go too far. This way the restrained party can let you know they’ve had enough.
If this word is said then everything should be stopped immediately. Ignoring a “safe word” can result in serious legal problems.
You can find a comprehensive breakdown of laws state-by-state here:
Massive thanks to Dan for providing the above information.
Keep it safe and keep it between consenting adults and you’ll have no problems.
BDSM relies on people doing what they want to and with other people who are willing. It’s about exploration of the self and of others.
It’s not about control or abuse, it’s about liberation through restriction. The best way to ruin that is to abuse it, so be sure to keep everything consensual and safe.
That’s fine. Just follow the general rule: if it’s not consensual or feels abusive, then it’s not BDSM.
I Like This!
How Do I Explore It More?
This guide just touches on the basics of a complex lifestyle. If you’re interested in learning more, here are some resources to get you started:
Blogs : There are a ton of BDSM-centric places on the web. Most of them have huge collections of links to other sites, categorized for everything you could ever want.
Many have feedback systems to help filter out the bad links.
Just do a google search for BDSM Blogs and you’ll find a great deal of information.
Podcasts : While there aren’t too many dedicated BDSM podcasts, there are a fair number of general kink podcasts. Again, most of them are linked through the various BDSM blogs.
Books : There are a number of great books out there on BDSM. Most of the information here was gleaned from one of these books.
Feel free to browse online or at your local library for more.
The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book by Daedalus
SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman
Ties That Bind: A Beginner’s Guide to Rope Bondage by Hanne Blank
The Compleat Slave by Michael Makai
Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James (!!!)
You don’t want to read that garbage. It’s poorly written, the “protagonist” is a terrible human being, and it’s full of crappy erotica clichés.
It is not at all representative of the BDSM community and it’s a badly written story at that (I’ve read better written fan fiction). Don’t let it fool you. It also isn’t a how-to guide to BDSM. If you actually follow the advice and techniques in that book you’ll likely damage yourself.
Doesn’t that book take place in a fictional setting with made-up characters? How can it be a how-to guide if it’s not real?
It doesn’t matter if the setting is a make-believe fairytale land with magical slaves that do whatever their master wants. If you’re a beginner, and you try some of the techniques in that book, you’re going to get hurt. Please don’t approach BDSM with this guide and then try to use Fifty Shades of Grey as a reference. It won’t end well. The same goes for just about any other “how-to” books. They’re rarely accurate and usually romanticized or generalized to the point that they’re basically useless to a beginner.
I Still Don’t Understand.
Can You Give Me An Example?
Sure! Here’s one of the earlier examples, but feel free to ask for more clarification after you’ve read it:
You’re a man with a woman. As you’re pleasing her with a vibrator, she asks you to choke her.
At this point, you have a number of options. You could comply, and go farther than she wants. Maybe she’s lying there content, but not actually enjoying it. Maybe she’s actually enjoying it and wants you to go even farther. Maybe she’s lying there, and scared. Maybe she’s lying there and scared, but doesn’t know how to tell you to stop. You aren’t a mind reader. It is your responsibility as a top to ensure that the bottom is having a good time.
If you comply with her choking and go too far, you could seriously hurt or kill her. This is obviously a bad thing.
If you decline to choke her, but she’s actually enjoying it, then you’ve denied her the opportunity to enjoy herself. This is obviously a bad thing as well.
If you decline to choke her, and she’s just trying something new that she heard about, then she’s going to feel like she can’t trust you to play with her. This is also a bad thing.
The moral of the story?
Communication. It’s going to take a lot of effort on both of your parts, but it will ensure that you both have a good time.
You Don’t Seem To Approve Of Choking.
Here’s a breakdown of the mechanics of choking for those of you that aren’t interested in the moral or practical reasons behind it:
To start, the oesophagus is located directly behind the trachea, and runs directly through the front of the throat. In other words, it’s not buried deep within the throat like most people seem to think (and for medical purposes, it’s considered to be part of the digestive system).
Through a combination of constriction, swelling, and simply being in the way, choking dramatically decreases airflow through this tube and prevents anything from passing. It’s an instant defense mechanism against foreign bodies and keeps things out of your lungs.
It isn’t a foolproof solution, however.
If you crush the trachea, the trachea will swell and close off, but the oesophagus will remain open. This can lead to a risk of stomach acids and other digestive byproducts eroding the trachea.
It’s not a fatal occurrence, but it can be incredibly painful and dangerous if it’s not treated.
Enough pressure will force the food out of your mouth and prevent you from taking in any more. Obviously, this doesn’t happen instantly and the damage can already be done if you manage to force something down.
What About Choking Games?
Choking games are a way of achieving a brief state of euphoria by cutting off oxygen flow to the brain for long enough to induce hypoxia. It causes similar feelings to that of an epileptic seizure while producing mild hallucinations.
This is incredibly dangerous, especially given how little research has been done on the subject. There have been numerous deaths from choking games, and even more hospitalizations.
This is a bad idea for numerous reasons.
The first and foremost being that you could easily die if you don’t time it right. If you pass out while your airway is blocked, you won’t be waking up anytime soon.
Cutting off oxygen flow to the brain can also have some seriously long-term consequences. It can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, and even behavioural issues.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s incredibly easy to accidentally strangle yourself to death. You don’t have to be a novice to accidentally kill yourself with this either.
Any little mistake could lead to serious injury, or even death.
Please, don’t try this at home. If you or your partner want to experience the thrill of asphyxiation, there are far safer ways of achieving it.
Is Choking During a Kiss Dangerous?
Absolutely not. It’s actually pretty difficult to choke on an average human tongue. Unless the person has serious dental issues, you’re highly unlikely to swallow their tongue or even take in much of their saliva.
Even if you were to somehow take in a large quantity of saliva, it would take a lot of swallowing before it could cause any damage. Each swallow of saliva only contains a small amount of digestive acids.
It would take a lot of effort to even give yourself heartburn.
Even if you did somehow manage to choke, it isn’t as if you’d die. At worst, you might find it difficult to breathe for a few moments while your body jerked around.
It’s highly unlikely that any serious harm would come to you. Even if you were unconscious, the natural reaction would be to pull away to prevent the obstruction, so it’s almost impossible to die from this act.
Sources & references used in this article:
Occlusion training increases muscular strength in division IA football players by T Yamanaka, RS Farley… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2012 – cdn.journals.lww.com
Improving strength and power in trained athletes with 3 weeks of occlusion training by CJ Cook, LP Kilduff, CM Beaven – … journal of sports …, 2014 – journals.humankinetics.com
The effects of a 7-week practical blood flow restriction program on well-trained collegiate athletes by PE Luebbers, AC Fry, LM Kriley… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2014 – journals.lww.com
Interval training with blood flow restriction on aerobic performance among young soccer players at transition phase by AR Amani, H Sadeghi, T Afsharnezhad – Montenegrin Journal of Sports …, 2018 – mjssm.me
Occlusion Training During Specific Futsal Training Improves Aspects of Physiological and Physical Performance by S Amani-Shalamzari, A Sarikhani, C Paton… – Journal of Sports …, 2020 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Blood-flow restricted warm-up alters muscle hemodynamics and oxygenation during repeated sprints in American football players by JF Fortin, F Billaut – Sports, 2019 – mdpi.com
Blood flow restriction training after Achilles tendon rupture by BG Yow, DJ Tennent, TC Dowd, JP Loenneke… – The Journal of Foot and …, 2018 – Elsevier
Technical and training related aspects of resistance training using blood flow restriction in competitive sport-A review by M Wilk, M Krzysztofik, M Gepfert… – Journal of human …, 2018 – content.sciendo.com