Some of you have heard me talk about Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training in the past.  Blood flow restriction has become an increasingly popular rehab modality used by chiropractors and physical therapists.  

Over the last two years I have used it during times I was unable to lift heavy (due to injury or some other restriction) as a means to retain strength.  

This study took 17 national level powerlifters and  randomly assigned them to either

  • a BFR group performing two blocks (weeks 1 and 3) of five BFR front squat sessions within a 6.5-wk training period,
  • or a conventional training group performing front squats at 60%-85% of one-repetition maximum (1RM).

This study showed that the BFR athletes were able to gain 12% more muscle SIZE in their quads than the non-BFR group after 6.5 weeks of front squats 5x per week.  

Points to note:

  • The BFR group squatted only 30% of their 1RM for 4 sets (1st and last sets were to failure)
  • Muscle strength remained unchanged in the two groups
  • Only Type 1 fibers changed (type 2 are most responsible for strong and fast contractions)

Implications for training:

A lot of us don’t necessarily care about the physical size of our quads if they aren’t also super strong, but, BFR may be a great way to RETAIN STRENGTH during periods that require minimal loading.

Journal Article Summary


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