How to Use BFR Bands | Crucial Tips for First Timers

If you’re visiting this blog, you’ve likely heard of BFR, or Blood Flow Restriction training. It’s also likely that you’re interested in learning more about BFR and how to use BFR bands or cuffs for training and rehabilitation for the first time. 

BFR training is when you place cuffs or bands around a limb during exercise to maintain arterial inflow to the muscle while at the same time preventing venous return of the blood to the heart. The benefits of BFR training include an increase in muscle strength, muscle size, and cardiovascular capacity. You may also experience an increase in Growth Hormone and Insulin Growth Factor 1. 

BFR training provides those aforementioned increases in muscle strength and size without having to lift heavy weights or work out at a high intensity. 

Guide to Using BFR for the First Time

As a beginner, you need to decide what type of cuff or band to use. BFR cuffs, like our SmartCuffs®, allow you to precisely control the amount of pressure and the restriction to blood flow, making them not only consistent but also much safer than bands. 

Before beginning a training session, perform a light warmup such as walking or light cycling. Follow that five-minute warmup with roughly 15 un-cuffed reps with whatever weight you plan to use for your first set of BFR. To find the best weight, start on the lighter side and experiment with what works best for you. 

Now that you’re ready to train, wrap the BFR cuff around the top portion of your legs or arms. Depending on whether you’re using cuffs or bands, remember to not wrap too tightly to avoid numbness or tingling. With our SmartCuffs, a built-in safety mechanism will automatically shut down the cuff before this happens. 

Dos and Don’ts of BFR

Do lift much lighter weights than you think you need. One of the primary advantages of BFR training is that you can see significant gains by lifting lighter loads at a lower intensity. However, when lifting lighter weights at a lower intensity, you do want to perform more reps and longer sets with shorter rest periods in between. 

Don’t be afraid to start slow. In other words, don’t overdo it. This is a very real temptation when beginning a new training program or strategy. Most patients or athletes get excited and want to go all-in and see results immediately. Those results will come soon enough. But as a beginner, it’s critical to listen to your body, take it slow, and take breaks if needed. Work your way up to longer sets. 

How Do You Know If BFR Is for You?

BFR training benefits a wide range of people. Those who have mobility issues, such as those who are in a cast, bed-ridden, elderly, or post-op, will benefit. Conversely, athletes will see significant results as well, especially those who want to isolate a weaker region of the body and strengthen it. 

Injury from this type of training is quite rare. In fact, BFR leads to little to no muscle damage or soreness, so the recovery time needed is minimal. The low intensity and lighter loads required mean that it’s a great fit for virtually everyone. 

As you begin your BFR training, it’s important to consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program. Invest in the proper equipment and start off slow and deliberate. Build up your training from there and you’ll discover BFR is a game-changer when it comes to seeing results and reducing the risk of injury to your muscles, joints, and tissue.