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Blood Flow Restriction Training – Literature Review

Blood flow restriction training (BFRT) is one of the latest methods, that is being used in the procces of rehabilitation after surgeries or other injuries. This type of training can also be used for general improvement of muscle strength with elite athletes, recreation enthusiasts and older populations. This workout is interesting, because we can achieve hypertrophy of weakened muscles with minimal loads, which range from twenty to thirty percent of 1RM (Repetition Maximum). This means that the share of the load, of the maximum amount of weight, which we are capable to lift for one repetition, is relatively low compared to classic strength training, where the loads vary from sixty to eighty percent of 1RM. We perform BFRT with inflatable occlusion cuffs, in which we set the pressure for occlusion of the upper or lower extremitiy. As we lower the blood flow for short period of time, we create an environment with lowered oxygen (ischemic environment) that leads into metabolic stress, which enables muscle growth. The purpose of this article is to present the existing and especially newer literature about BFRT and to address the advantages as well as the weaknesses of this method. The primary goal of this article is an overview of the foreign literature, because scientific literature in Slovene language is very insufficient. With this analysis we want to encourage others, who are interested in this field of training, to contribute in developing of Slovene literature. For the purpose of this review we used qualitative research with the document analysis technique. BFRT is optimal to use with patients, that can not tolerate huge loads. Numerous studies and researches are indicating, that BFRT can be performed with people with osteoarthritis (smaller loads put less stress on joints), on patients after long-term immobilisation, after surgeries (commonly reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament), as well as with other clinical populations. Although BFRT is a useful method at developing strength, we have to point out that if possible, muscle hypertrophy should still be achieved through classic strength training. BFRT can be used as an intermediate step for preparing our body for bigger loads.

Rok Pivec

Jakob Ules


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