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Blood Flow Restriction Training

I've been utilizing the "BFR" Training method for many years now. People would look at you really weird when I first started because there just wasn't a lot of people doing it. I would use my bands at a crowded gym and would be constantly approached by the resident "experts," who would share their concerns and inquire about the benefits of the BFR method. I would tell them the same thing I'll tell you. Do your own research and figure out the best training methods for you. There's tons of research on the subject and I will include some links at the end of the article to give you some more insight.

That was then and this is now. The method is being used everywhere today and not just with athletes. I had knee surgery last year and I was stoked when the physical therapist told me that "Blood Flow Restriction Band Training," would be a part of my knee rehab therapy because it strengthens the muscles and prevents atrophy.

Blood Flow Restriction Training has long-been known by elite athletes and athletic trainers. There is a plethora of research that has been done on the subject and to the effectiveness of the method. The method is scientifically proven to incorporate more "Fast Twitch" muscle fiber recruitment with less load.

From preventing atrophy in Wounded Warriors & injured athletes, to gains obtained by the casual gym goer, the results are indisputable. The method is used by the NFL, MLB, NHL, International Olympians, the U.S. Army, and many more.

I will add research links to the end of this article, but I want to give you a quick breakdown of what happens when you utilize the "BFR" method. Remember I am not talking about occlusion training, where you restrict all blood flow to the muscle. I am not a proponent of this method. With BFR you're only trying to reduce the amount of blood that flows out of the muscle.

The BFR method is intended to allow blood flow into the muscle, but to largely reduce the amount that leaves the muscle, causing an "Anabolic fluid shift", and a build up of beneficial metabolites and hormones, like HGH, to be released at a higher than normal rate.

The effects of the method cause hypertrophy at low loads, usually around 10-30% of your 1 Rep Max.

BFR training allows the athlete to use less weight to achieve a high anabolic response. It yields muscle size and strength gains by targeting fast twitch muscle fibers. It pre-exhaust the aerobic, slow twitch fibers, and recruits the anaerobic fast twitch fibers. Slow twitch fibers have less growth potential than fast twitch fibers. Fast Twitch fibers are what provide explosive strength and athleticism. FYI, your favorite pro athlete has tremendous fast twitch fiber recruitment. The more fast twitch recruitment in training equals the potential for more muscle growth. If you're not a genetically gifted athlete and you want to stay strong & explosive as you grow older, you should make it your goal to find ways to incorporate more fast twitch recruitment.

Fast twitch recruitment is typically reserved by the body for high-resistance training, like lifting heavy weights or explosive sprints for example. BFR signals the body to recruit fast twitch fibers at low loads, usually around 10-30% of your one rep max. The method causes an "Anabolic fluid shift", causing beneficial hormones, like HGH, to be released at a higher than normal rate, and that translates into the muscle being in a stressed state which triggers growth. You've always heard that you have to trick the muscle and keep it guessing to grow. In simple terms the method confuses the muscle. The muscle reacts to the perceived change, adapts to overcome, and deal with the effect the only way it knows how, and that's by generating growth. Thats why it has always been effective in physical therapy. When you have a body part that is injured you can't lift heavy weights or do strenuous workouts. You lose size strength and function in the injured limb. BFR activates muscles at low loads and movements, which gets the muscle firing, and reduces atrophy. You can take the same method when you're healthy and achieve amazing results as well.


There is so much written on the science behind the method that I will leave to the doctors and scientist. Instead, I wanna share some of my results and opinions on BFR. I have been using BFR training for many years. I feel that it has helped me gain muscle size and strength, while also improving the overall shape, tone, and quality of my physique. I believe that BFR training has also made me more vascular, especially in my legs and arms. I also feel that it has had tremendous positive affects on my explosive strength in fast twitch movements like sprinting. My drive phase really improved when I incorporated the method years ago. I want to remain as fast and explosive as possible as I age.

  • Consult your doctor before beginning any workout or fitness training regimen.

On the topic of muscle growth from the BFR method I will start with my calves. I have not been blessed by the calf gods and have always struggled to get them to grow. I was born with high calf muscles, which most sprinters and runners have. Not the best looking aesthetically though. Check out the calves on your favorite wide receiver in the NFL, or Usain Bolt. That's what high calves look like. I would train them relentlessly and not see a fraction of growth. I tried every technique out there with minimal results. Once I started targeting my calves with BFR, I started to gain size, shape, and vascularity. After seeing true results in my most stubborn body part, I became a true believer in the BFR technique.

Bigger arms seem to be one of the most common goals that most men have. Every guy wants bigger biceps & triceps, but we can't neglect the forearms to complete the goal of total arm development. I built some decent size arms with my normal training regimen throughout the years, but they weren't what I envisioned them being. Once I introduced BFR into my arm day routine, I soon noticed a change. I gained size in my arms and they became more vascular, defined and have separation. BFR is one of the main tools that I rely on as I continue to build strength, explosiveness, and to improve my physique.

I use BFR Training for arms, chest, legs, calves and shoulder training. Some debate if the method works to increase chest development. I believe its helped me develop more muscle density in my chest and also improved the aesthetic deltoid separation that I strive for.

  • I have specific BFR Training days, and I also incorporate it after my normal training regimen.

  • When I'm busy and can't get to the gym or when traveling, I strap on the BFR bands, grab a resistance band, and get some work in. I end up with an incredible "fluid shift" pump, that has positive metabolic changes.

  • You want to apply the bands and tighten to around a 7 out of 10 on a tightness scale. If you feel numbness then you have it on too tight, release and reapply.

  • Apply the bands to the upper arms, for chest, arms, shoulder training.

  • Upper quadricep for leg and calf training. You may also apply below the knee for calf specific training. I have found that I get better results by applying the bands to my quads for calf training though. Try both techniques though.

  • Lower the amount of weight you would normally use for any workout performed using the BFR method.

Please do your own research and learn the facts and techniques on your own. You can use the information links provided on this page as a good starting point.

These are my opinions and based on my personal results. Yours may be different. If you're determined to get better, then do your research, educate yourself, and find what works for you as you continue to develop. Nothing totally replaces heavy lifting but you can’t ignore the results of this method. If you're serious about what you’re doing then you need to incorporate BFR into your training regimen.

Chris Gowen

Founder - Directional Force


The content contained in this article is for information purposes only, and is not meant to be a substitute or replacement for professional advice and medical consultation. It is just shared as information only, and with the understanding that Directional Force, LLC, (Directional Force) is not engaged in the provision or rendering of medical advice or services whatsoever. You unilaterally understand and agree that Directional Force shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in this article or any article provided by Directional Force. Please seek professional medical advice prior to engaging in, or undertaking any of the content provided by Directional Force.

Important Information:

None of the statements on this website have not been evaluated or endorsed by the FDA, (United States Food and Drug Administration), and are not meant to diagnose, cure or treat any medical condition. Consult your physician regarding any medical issues and before using any product provided and sold by Directional Force, or engaging in any physical training regimen. Consult your physician before using blood flow restriction training, BFR bands, or technique. You must be eighteen years of age or have the consent of your legal guardian before the purchase of any products sold by Directional Force, before purchase of BFR bands, before engaging in a BFR training regimen. All the information stated on this site are the opinions of Directional Force.

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