Upper Body Blood Flow Restriction Training

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Upper Body Blow Flow Restriction Training | Week 75 | Movement Fix Monday


Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is a great way to build muscle mass using metabolic stress instead of micro-damage. You can improve recovery and stimulate growth on rest days without loading your joints and creating a lot of mechanical stress. These techniques are currently used in the military and professional sports. We will be seeing them come to the mass fitness industry (starting with competitive recreational athletes first) soon.

The Idea

Muscle growth can improve essentially in two ways: Mechanical damage and metabolic stress.

Mechanical damage occurs when you lift a lot of weights for a certain number of reps, break down the muscle a bit, and it grows back strong.

Metabolic stress you can think of as being chemically stimulated. Essentially you build up certain metabolic end products and those can stimulate growth.

The cool thing about BFR is you can get the metabolic stress without the mechanical damage. This is hugely significant! It means you can build without breaking down first.

How does it work?

BFR works because when you put these straps around your arms, you prevent return of blood from your arms back to your heart. This may sound scary, but when done correctly, the risk is minimal. You still get blood going INTO your arms, but you aren’t letting it escape.

This does a number of things. It can lead to the build up of metabolitescause muscle swelling, and increases in blood growth hormone.

How to use it

I highly recommend that you both watch the video AND download Dr. Novo’s e-book. He has a great free e-book on his website that lays it all out in a very clear and nice format.

You can download that by visiting his website and filling out the pop-up box HERE

What we did in the video was fill the cuffs around my arms to around 100 mm Hg, making sure I still had a pulse at my wrist.

I then used very light weights, around 30% of my 1RM bicep curl, and performed 30 curls. Then I rested 30 seconds and did 3 more sets of 15 reps with 30 seconds rest.

What do you do after the BFR?

Stay tuned to next week’s Movement Fix Monday post to see guidelines for maximizing your recovery AFTER the BFR sets, which by the way are really hard as you can see me sweating in the video (although it was also like 99 degrees in Nashville that day).


BFR can be a nice addition to a solid training program. It can help aid in recovery and growth via metabolic stress and hormonal changes without requiring mechanical damage. Bodybuilders have been doing this for years and now it is being studied and implemented in professional sports and will soon, in my opinion, reach the recreational masses who are looking for performance gains without adding huge volumes that break you down.

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this helpful. We have 2 more parts coming in this 3 part series: how to recover after the session and BFR usage for lower body.

Thanks again to Dr. Mario Novo for sharing his knowledge with us.

Oh and I also want to mention, the FHT program that I am doing does incorporate some BFR sets into the overall program for exactly the reasons mentioned above and in the video. Make sure to check out FHT here to learn more.


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