According to the conventional wisdom, lifting heavy weights is an absolute necessity for muscular growth. Yet, there is an increasingly popular alternative training method known as Blood Flow Restriction, or Occlusion training. In this article, we’ll discover the 5 best blood flow restriction bands on the current market. We’ll also provide you with a complete overview of the occlusion training method.
Our Top Picks
If you are going to get into occlusion training, you definitely want to invest in a quality set of BFR bands. Professionally made bands provide you with the ideal width for safe use, have a secure locking system and, usually loop to hold the slack in place so it doesn’t interfere with your training.
Let’s check out the 5 best BFR bands on the current market:
PRO BFR Bands Occlusion Training Bands
Pro BFR Bands provide you with a two-inch width blood flow restriction band. They are constructed from durable elastic fabric which makes them comfortable and easy to adjust. These bands are thicker than those offered by most competitors.
The Pro BFR Bands are each twenty-five inches long. They feature a quick release system in order to get them off fast as needed. The fast-release cam buckle makes it a piece of cake to strap the band on and get it into position. The smooth locking surface of the buckle ensures that the band fabric will not tear. You also get an elastic loop holder to keep any slack in the band away from your working muscles during your set.
In addition to the Pro BFR Band, there is also a 6-inch long version to give you the option of double wrapping the bands.
Your purchase of the Pro BFR Band gets you two bands so you can work both arms at the same time. You also get a free occlusion training guide and workout program. These bands are produced by Exerscribe.
BFR BANDS Occlusion Training Bands, 2 in Rigid Edition
The Rigid Edition of BFR Bands occlusion training bands are also produced by Exerscribe. They are the heavy-duty version of their BFR bands. These bands are also two inches in width. They are designed to provide optimum blood restriction for minimum effort in order to make it as simple as possible to perform your occlusion training workout.
The Rigid Edition includes numbers from ‘1’ to ‘10’ on the inside of the band to allow you to get more precision in your accuracy and symmetry. You also get string hook and fastener tape to ensure that the band will never come under through the middle of your set.
This version of the BFR Band provides extra security to prevent slippage by way of a tightly woven anti-slip metal slider. This band is made from more rigid material than the Pro version of the BFR band. Soft stitched edges ensure comfort against the skin when you’re training.
This version of the BFR Band comes in a pair and you also get the Free Training Guide and Workout Program.
BFR BANDS Occlusion Training Bands, PRO Bundle
The PRO bundle version of the BFR occlusion training bands provides you with a set of four bands, compared with the two bands that you get in the previous versions we’ve looked at. Two of the bands are the standard 25-inch length, while the other two are 40 inches in length. This allows you train both the arms and the legs with your bands.
The arm bands are one inch in width, compared to the two-band set which comes in at a two-inch width. The fastening mechanism on these bands is not as secure as the two band Pro set, but will still provide you with a secure hold while training.
You also get access to the PDF training guide and workout program with this purchase.
BFR Occlusion Training Bands PRO X Model, 2 Pack
The PRO X BFR Bands version of the Exerscribe range are the most heavy-duty in their stable. These bands are red and black, compared with blue and black for the rest of the BFR Bands range. They feature the optimal 2-inch width and are made from durable elastic material.
This band features an easy one-way pull to tighten buckle mechanism that allows for single handed operation. You also get numbers to allow you to track your pressure, allowing for pin-point accuracy and symmetry between the two bands.
The PRO X BFR features a unique pinch-free buckle design to ensure that you don’t suffer any unnecessary accidents. An elastic loop is provided to secure the slack of the band and keep it out of the way when you’re doing your set.
Once again, your purchase includes access to the pdf download of the free training guide and workout program.
BFR BANDS 1.5 Inch Occlusion Training Bands
The BFR Bands 1.5-inch version of the occlusion training band is not as wide as the Pro version of the BFR band. It includes numbers to track the ideal pressure of each band, along with an added comfort liner to ensure maximum wearer comfort. You also get a tightly woven anti-slip metal slider for maximum safety to prevent slippage while in use.
The soft stitched edges of this band prevents chafing. As with all the other bands in the range, you also get access to the pdf training guide and workout program.
What is Occlusion Training?
Occlusion training involves lifting lighter weights of approximately 20-30 percent of your one-rep maximum (1RM) to muscle failure while restricting blood flow to the target muscle group. This preferentially activates fast twitch muscle fibers due to the depletion of oxygen levels to the working muscles that results from restricted blood flow.
Does Occlusion Training Provide Results?
Yes, it certainly does. The reduction of available oxygen drives the muscle cell to produce energy without oxygen (anaerobically). This activates fast twitch muscle fibers instead of slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers have greater potential for strength development.
The anerobic environment created in the muscle cell by occlusion training has been shown to enhance muscle growth due to its reliance on anaerobic respiration. This generates a lot of lactic acid, which in turn stimulates the release of growth hormone. This leads to enhanced muscle growth. If you tried a training mask that restricts the amount of oxygen intake, you should also give occlusion training a try as it will push your body even further.
In one study, six young male subjects performed five sets of leg extensions at 20 percent of their 1RM until failure, with a short rest of 30 seconds, while restricting blood flow to the working muscles with occlusion training. The concentration of growth hormone increased by 290 time higher than before exercise.
Is Occlusion Training Safe?
Yes, but it must be done correctly. When done correctly, there will be a slight restriction of blood flow. You should wrap either elbow or knee bands just above the muscle you want to train without wrapping too tightly. You do not want to totally occlude blood flow.
You should perform four to five sets at about 20-30 percent of your 1RM, with the first consisting of about 30 reps, followed by three or four more sets of 15 reps. Rest for less than a minute between sets.
What Types of Exercises Should You Do with Occlusion Training?
Occlusion training is limited to the ability to effectively put blood flow restriction bands on the body in order to restrict blood flow. This is really only practical on the limbs. As a result, occlusion training will only be applicable to the biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings. That means that you will be able to perform occlusion training with the following exercises:
- Leg presses
- Leg extensions
- Leg curls
- Biceps curls (all versions)
- Triceps extensions (all versions)
How Often Should You do Occlusion Training?
Although occlusion training is extremely demanding while you are doing it, you are able to recover from it more quickly than from conventional heavy weight, low rep training. As a result, you should be able to do occlusion training every other day. If you are new to this type of training, however, we suggest starting with just once per week, then building to 2-3 times as your body acclimatizes to this type of training.
Things to Keep in Mind with Occlusion Training
- Only wrap the BFR band at the top of the arm or leg.
- Don’t use heavy weights when doing occlusion training.
- DO NOT wrap at the knee to train calves or the elbow to train forearms.
- Only train with weights that are 20-30 percent of your 1RM.
- When wrapping your BFR band, use a narrow cuff so you don’t occlude arteries.
- Wrap the BFR band in layers.
- Wrap at a tightness of ‘7’ on a 1-10 scale.
- NEVER wrap the BFR band so tight that you feel numbness.
- Perform your sets in the rep range of 15-30.
- Rest for no longer than one minute per set.
- Only go to absolute muscle failure on your last set of occlusion training.
The best occlusion training manufacturer on the current market is BFR Bands. The top band in their range is their Pro BFR Bands, which are two inches wide and 25-inches in length and come with a quick release system for ease of placement and release. Grab yourself a pair of BFR Pro Bands and take your training to new levels with occlusion training.