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Blood flow restriction – A new way to use blood flow restriction training

Welcome to my high intensity blood flow restriction training self experiment.

Where I will gain a half inch of arm muscle size in only __ days. Below I document the  entire process for you to see, learn and apply.

I’m making these large gains in a short period of time with hypoxia training. Or more specifically with high intensity unilateral blood flow restriction circuits. Where I apply blood flow restriction and palm cooling to the resting arm via an All Natural PED strength sleeve. While the opposite arm performs high intensity circuits with weight in the 8-12 rep to failure range.

History

The last time I did high intensity blood flow restriction circuits, I gained one inch of arm muscle size in only 1 month. I kept track of my progress from 11-7-13 to 12-6-13 on my facebook page and you can also see my tweets from those dates.
I’m obviously only n=1, but the sustained gains from 13 arm circuits was SUBSTANTIAL. I went from 15 3/8 inches to 16 3/8 inches in one month or in only 13 high intensity circuit workouts.

Diet

This testing will take place at my current weight, which fluctuates between 175-180 lbs. And I’ll utilize a normal diet. I will not increase the amount of calories I consume to artificially increase my arm size through an increased body mass index. I posted my pre-work pictures to Facebookand Twitteron 4-6-14 to help show my body composition at the beginning.

Disclaimer

Blood flow restriction training is NOT for everyone. Please consult with a medical professional before performing. If you have any of the conditions listed here under #6, or here then do NOT practice blood flow restriction training.

Your arms may appear slightly discolored after using blood flow restriction. Please note that when you apply the restriction, you should never lose feeling in your arms or get that tingling sensation. Immediately loosen the wrap or wraps if you do. You want moderate restriction. Which equates to about a 5 on a 1-10 scale with 10 being as tight as possible.

Circuit 1 (3-29-14)

Introducing high intensity unilateral blood flow restriction circuits. Where I restrict my rest arm using an All Natural PED strength sleeve and lift weights in the 8-12 rep to failure range with my free arm. Completely backwards from how you typically apply blood flow restriction training with low loads and intensity.

Applying blood flow restriction backwards allows for higher intensity workouts while removing almost all of the pain and discomfort when you perform these workouts.

I’ll always post before and after pictures. These pictures will help confirm my story. And I’ll add comments when I see trends in the data, as I test different variables. Hopefully I can inform people of a more practical way to use blood flow restriction while helping to advance the discussion.

Picture stats – All pictures and stats from the right arm only. The muscle cell swelling that you see in the before and after pictures leads to sustained growth. While science can’t confirm what causes the muscle growth with 100% accuracy. Muscle cell swelling most likely plays a significant role. [1,2]

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 1/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 3/4 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 11/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(photo)

Observations – The 11/16 of an inch gain from this circuit was more then I typically experienced. I don’t know if this was from the long layoff or if it was just a random case of noise. Typically, I would gain 8/16 of an inch, or one half inch immediately post workout due to the muscle cell swelling. So, maybe a break in using blood flow restriction could be beneficial if size gains tapper off.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a bicep to tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/4 inches.
  • And I check in at 17 3/8 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 10/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(photo)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Time under restriction was roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds for the first two circuits and roughly 3 minutes and 30 seconds on the last two circuits.
  • Restriction first applied on right arm during circuit 1. Last applied on left arm during circuit 4.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs: supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 144 total reps performed.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm.
  • Warmed up and cooled down with tricep cable push downs to failure.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 3 minutes and 30 seconds per arm

Circuit 2 (4-2-14)

Take two on the high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This one took place between 7:41-8:06 PM. I just want to point out the amount of time it takes to complete these workouts. It should take you only roughly 20 minutes, as I do extra steps (such as logging data) that you can skip. But I just want to emphasis how quickly and easily you can get bigger arms.

Sustained gain of 2/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 4 days from circuit 1.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 6/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – Only 6/16 of an inch of muscle cell swelling jumps out at me here. Started circuit 1 with smaller arms and somehow finished with more muscle cell swelling then from circuit 2. Even though I performed the exact same workout with similar time under restriction, while the total rep volume actually increased.

Why did this happen?

The problem occurred because the right arm (pictured above and below) performed its first circuit before I applied blood flow restriction to it. While it also ended with blood flow restriction, but without performing another circuit after it. Going back to circuit 1, the left arm performed its first circuit before I applied blood flow restriction to it. While it also ended with blood flow restriction, but without performing another circuit after it. Since I rotate starting arms on every new circuit workout. The pictures captured the problem.

The main takeaway?

Please note that this applies to high intensity blood flow restriction training only. You want to start your blood flow restriction before you start your circuits. To maximize muscle cell swelling, you want to induce metabolic stress before your circuit. When you make it harder on your body before performing an exercise. Your body doesn’t like it and responds in ways to better protect itself for future bouts. Therefore, using blood flow restriction before a circuit leads to greater sustained gains of muscle mass for your arms.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a bicep to tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/4 inches.
  • And I check in at 17 3/8 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 10/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Time under restriction was roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds for the first two circuits and roughly 3 minutes and 30 seconds on the last two circuits.
  • Restriction first applied on left arm during circuit 1. Last applied on right arm during circuit 4.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 149 total reps performed. 5 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm.
  • Warmed up and cooled down with tricep cable push downs to failure.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes per arm.

Circuit 3 (4-5-14)

And on and on we go with with another bout of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This one took place from 11:56 PM to 12:28 AM. I changed the routine of this circuit to address the problems encountered in Circuit #2. So, I warmed up with a set of tricep cable pull downs to failure and then restricted the starting arm for 4 minutes and 30 seconds before beginning the actual circuit. This of course added an extra 4 minutes and 30 seconds to the workout’s duration.

Total sustained gain of 3/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 7 days from circuits 1 and 2.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 1/4 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 3/4 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – Back to the standard 1/2 inch of muscle swelling immediately post workout. The left arm started this circuit, so we must wait for another workout to document the changes in applying blood flow restriction prior to starting the circuits.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement. In the below pictures, I changed the measurement to measure the top of the tricep. I’ll use this measurement going forward.

  • I check in pre-workout at 15 3/4 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 7/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 11/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Time under restriction was roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds for all of the circuits.
  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 149 total reps performed. 0 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes and 30 seconds per arm.

Circuit 4 (4-6-14)

This time I got in a quickie with only two sets of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. A first for me and some more practical uses for you. This workout took place between 8:34-8:49 PM. I applied blood flow restriction before starting the circuit for 4 minutes and 30 seconds, which added to the workout’s duration.

Gain of 5/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 8 days from circuits 1-3. Please note, gains from circuit 3 maybe currently inflated due to muscle cell swelling in the pre-workout pictures below.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/8 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 5/8 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/4 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – My first time ever collecting data on a two set blood flow restriction circuit using only 4 exercises. The muscle cell swelling stayed consistent with the same rate increase as my 4 set circuits. If these gains stay consistent in future workouts. Then these short workouts should help promote the practicality of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits even more.

With two workouts in two days. I wanted to address muscle cell swelling. As recent research shows that after a workout, the muscles can stay swollen for up to 52 hours. [3] [4] So, please keep that in mind going forward when I perform back to back workouts with no rest days in between.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 15 7/8 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 1/8 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/4 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 1 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Two total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • One circuit per each arm.
  • 81 total reps performed. 2 rep increasewhen compared with the first 2 sets of previous workout.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 2.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 2 minutes per arm.

Circuit 5 (4-7-14)

Another day and another quickie. I’m back on my third straight day of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This workout took place between 10:39-10:56 PM.

Gain of 6/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 9 days from circuits 1-4. Please note, gains from circuit 4 maybe currently inflated due to muscle cell swelling in the pre-workout pictures below.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 11/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/4 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – Again, I just want to reiterate the research mentioned in the observation section on circuit 4. Which states that muscles can stay swollen for up to 52 hours post workout. With three workouts now in three days, we should question the actual data provided here. Disclosures aside, the trend kept on going with the standard 1/4 inch gain immediately post workout.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 15 15/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 1/4 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 1 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Two total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • One circuit per each arm.
  • 84 total reps performed. 3 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 2.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 3 minutes and 30 seconds per arm.

Circuit 6 (4-10-14)

The after midnight workout kicked off at 12:13 AM and ended at 12:42 AM. I went back to doing four sets of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits.

Total sustained gain of 6/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 12 days from circuits 1-5.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 16 15/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – In the top picture, I check in with the same measurement as in circuit #5 on 4-7-14. Maybe because I only completed two circuits total that day. Or maybe because of an error in measurement. As I’m not replicating the same exact spot perfectly every time. I do expect the pattern to emerge as we go forward.  Even though this pre blood flow restriction picture did not capture the trend.

On the other hand, the bottom tricep picture captured a 1/16 of an inch gain from the circuit #5 on 4-7-14. And that follows the pattern established so far.

It also picked up an extra 1/16 of an inch of post workout muscle swelling. I do wonder if my tricep cable push downs to failure pre-workout impact the end result. I will test different variables if this trend continues.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 inches even.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 9/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 85 total reps performed in first 2 circuits, 1 rep increase.160 total reps performed in all 4 circuits.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes per arm.

Circuit 7 (4-11-14)

Don’t let the dates between circuit #6 and #7 fool you. Two nights of rest before I started these high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This workout took place between 9:08-9:37 PM.

Total sustained gain of 8/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 13 days from circuits 1-6.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 9/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 inches even after post workout recovery.
  • 7/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

Observations – On record with a 1/2 inch gain in 2 weeks per the pre-workout measurements. This pace also follows the history that I documented from 11-7-13 to 12-6-13. Using all the data trends, I expect to reach roughly 1 inch in one month and 2 inches in two months. I’ll try to beat those trends, but we will see.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 1/8 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 7/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pic)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 166 total reps performed.  6 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes and 30 seconds per arm.

Circuit 8 (4-14-14)

And it goes on and on and on with more high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This one took place from 5:44-6:15 PM.

Total sustained gain of 9/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 16 days from circuits 1-7.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 5/8 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 5/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 3/4 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – A 1/4 inch more of muscle swelling then usual. I don’t know why this occurred. Maybe due to pre measurement error, which increased the perceived gain. But maybe something else contributed.

This circuit workout occurred on the hottest day of the year to date. Not saying much during winter workouts. But the perceived exertion level actually decreased compared to circuit #6 and #7. Maybe because this workout took two minutes longer to complete. Even though the reps increased slightly.

The negative pressure palm cooling sleeve really helped my endurance during circuits #6 and #7. As I struggled to get through both of them. The palm cooling sleeve should help more as the weather turns to summer. Going forward, I’ll attempt to gauge how much strength endurance the palm cooling sleeve provides. I know that palm cooling increases muscle activation [5]. But I need to compare using palm cooling and not using palm cooling with high intensity blood flow restriction circuits.  As of now, almost all of my collected data occurred using palm cooling.

It also seems to help with recovery. I do not know how to prove this in the data outside of increasing frequency and observing the total rep count. To add to the problems in collecting data, my arms rarely get sore except after a long layoff. And over time, the repeated bout effect will only make the data harder to gauge accurately.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 5/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 13/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 171 total reps performed.  5 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes per arm.

Circuit 9 (4-17-14)

And I’m back. With a new round of high intensity unilateral blood flow restriction circuits. This night cap took place between 2:14-2:45 AM.

Total sustained gain of 11/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 19 days from circuits 1-8.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/4 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 1/4 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – Back to the standard 1/2 inch of muscle swelling post workout on the bicep. And up to 11/16 of an inch of sustained gains in 19 days.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 5/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/4 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 175 total reps performed.  4 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 5 minutes per arm.

Circuit 10 (4-19-14)

The tenth high intensity unilateral blood flow restriction circuit took place between 4:08-4:39 PM.

Total sustained gain of 3/4 of an inch on the right bicep in 21 days from circuits 1-9.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 13/16  inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 3/8  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 9/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

Observations – Back to the standard 1/2 inch of muscle swelling post workout on the bicep. And up to 11/16 of an inch of sustained gains in 19 days.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 1/4 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 174 total reps performed.  1 rep decrease.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 5 minutes per arm.

Circuit 11 (4-22-14)

Just over three weeks in. Circuit 11 takes place between 7:35-8:05 PM.

Total sustained gain of 13/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 24 days from circuits 1-10.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/8  inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 3/8  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – The arm measurements in the tricep shots (below) appear unchanged or decreasing going all the way back to circuit #8. But that appears to occur because of error in my measuring. I’m going for a more straight across picture shot now. And expect more consistency going forward.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 1/4 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 182 total reps performed.  8 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 3 minutes per arm.

Circuit 12 (4-24-14)

Creeping towards the one inch benchmark in one month. Circuit 12 took place between 7:09-7:38 PM.

Total sustained gain of 15/16 of an inch on the right bicep in 26 days from circuits 1-11.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 17 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 1/2  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – On pace to gain 1 inch after 26 days. I’ll save the majority of my thoughts until the proof surfaces.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/8 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 11/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (25 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 188 total reps performed.  6 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes per arm.

Circuit 13 (4-28-14)

Proof’s in the pictures. But because of our uniqueness, no one knows how you will respond to the same workouts. Give it a go and write your own story. Circuit 13 took place between 11:05-11:36 PM.

Total sustained gain of 1 inch even on the right bicep in 30 days from circuits 1-12.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 17 1/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 9/16  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 1/2 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – After a 3 day rest period from performing high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. I finally get confirmation on that 1 inch bench mark in just a month’s time. Second time I reached this feat using roughly the same workout protocol.

With the chase for 2 inches underway. Now I start introducing some new test variables. I want to gauge the impact of the palm cooling sleeve the best I can. I don’t know how to do this exactly. But I’m going to increase the workout frequency to 5 straight days of high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. Over that stretch, we’ll see how the total rep volume responds. And I’ll chime in and complain about any muscle soreness.

I hypothesize that the rep volume will stay static or begin to decline by day 3. And that there will be no strength gains during day 4 or 5 due to the inability to fully recover. I also suspect that my ability to complain about DOMS won’t occur because of the repeated bout effect. And also because the palm cooling recovery sleeve probably aids recovery of the arms by 10-15% (just guessing). And even if it doesn’t, the fact that I think it does matters more then you might think.

After the 5 day stretch, I’ll take a beak for a few days. Then finish what I started with 2 inches on my mind and my arms. I’ll stop using palm cooling for the final stretch. I suspect the rep volume will not increase at the same rate as when applying palm cooling. And that workouts will appear harder or more taxing. And I suspect that DOMS will remain relatively unchanged or not noticeable.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 5/8 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 3/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (30 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 160 total reps performed.  Weight increased to 30 lbs on tricep kickbacks. 8 rep decreasefrom 129 to 121 overall reps when excluding tricep kickbacks.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 4 minutes per arm.

Circuit 14 (4-29-14)

Back to back workouts kicked off at 9:41 PM and ended at 10:12 PM. This one happened less than 24 hours from the last one. Three in a row to follow in consecutive days.

Gain of 1 and 1/8 incheson the right bicep in 31 days from circuits 1-13. Please note, gains from circuit 13 maybe currently inflated due to muscle cell swelling in the pre-workout pictures below.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 17 3/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 5/8  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 7/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – In the middle of five straight workouts with no rest days. Only on day 2. Reps increased and no signs of DOMS. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 3/4 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (30 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 169 total reps performed.  9 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 5 minutes per arm.

Circuit 15 (4-30-14)

The third straight high intensity blood flow restriction circuit with no rest days took place between 9:12-9:42 PM.

Gain of 1 and 3/16 inches on the right bicep in 32 days from circuits 1-14. Please note, gains from circuit 14 maybe currently inflated due to muscle cell swelling in the pre-workout pictures below.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 17 1/4 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17 11/16  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 7/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – Using a scale of 1-10 with 10 being it hurts to move type DOMS. I’d give myself a 2. In that I could feel some muscle soreness in the triceps after I straighten out my arms. Other then that, felt great. Reps increased for third day in a row. Light weights, almost time to increase the weight on the supinated curl and tricep overhead extension.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 7/16 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 9/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 2/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on left arm before circuit 1 for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Last applied on right arm during circuit 3 for roughly 5 minutes.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (30 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 176 total reps performed. 7 rep increase.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 5 minutes per arm.

Circuit 16 (5-1-14)

Performing four in a row hoping to gauge the impact of using palm cooling with high intensity blood flow restriction circuits. This one took place between 6:21-6:52 PM.

Gain of 5/8 incheson the right bicep in 33 days from circuits 1-15. Please note, gains from circuit 15 maybe currently inflated due to muscle cell swelling in the pre-workout pictures below.

Picture stats:

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 11/16 inches for biceps.
  • And I check in at 17  inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

(pics)

Observations – After receiving some feedback, decided to straighten out the measuring tape. I preferred to get the middle of the bicep and thick of the tricep, which is not a straight measurement, but I digress. I’ll do my best to keep this measurement going forward. It’s hard to accurately measure perfectly every time. But the end goal remains unchanged.

DOMS, where were you today? I’d give you a 1 on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being it hurts to move your muscles. Saying that, I completed fell of the cliff on my second circuit and never recovered. No days of rest finally caught up to my arms. As my rep total finally declined. And I started off great. But the palm cooling recovery sleeve couldn’t save me this time through.

More picture stats – From the same workout, but using a tricep measurement.

  • I check in pre-workout at 16 3/8 inches.
  • And I check in at 16 11/16 inches after post workout recovery.
  • 5/16 of an inch of post workout muscle cell swelling.

And it’s a wrap:

  • Restriction first applied on right arm before circuit 1 for 5 minutes. Last applied on left arm during circuit 3 for roughly 5 minutes.
  • Four total circuits were done using 4 exercises (30 lbs = tricep kickbacks; 45 lbs = supinated curls, tricep overhead extensions, and hammer curls).
  • Two circuits per each arm.
  • 169 total reps performed.  7 rep decrease.Womp, womp.
  • Palm cooling was also simultaneously applied to the restricted arm and by itself on circuit 4.
  • Warmed up with tricep cable push downs to failure. No cool down exercise.
  • Post workout recovery with a negative pressure palm cooling sleeve for 5 minutes per arm.

References

1-Loenneke, JP; Fahs, CA; Thiebaud, RS; Rossow, LM; Abe, T; Ye, Xin; Kim, D; Bemben, MG. “The acute muscle swelling effects of blood flow restriction.” Acta Physiologica Hungarica. 2012 July 17; Vol 99 (4), pp. 400–410. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23238542

2-Loenneke, Jeremy P; Abe, Takashi; Wilson, Jacob M.; Ugrinowitsch, Carlos; and Bemben, Michael G. “Blood flow restriction: how does it work?” Front Physiol. 2012 October 4; 3: 392. Full Text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3463864/

3-Kristiansen MS1, Uhrbrand A, Hansen M, Shiguetomi-Medina JM, Vissing K, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Langberg H. “Concomitant changes in cross-sectional area and water content in skeletal muscle after resistance exercise.” Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Dec 15. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24330190

4-Moussa, Adel. “Cell Swelling Keeps Muscles “Pumped” For More Than 52h. Size Increases of Up to 16% After a Single Leg Workout! Plus: Changes in Tendon Water & Collagen Content.” SuppVersity – Nutrition and Exercise Science for Everyone. 2014 January 4. <http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2014/01/cell-swelling-keeps-muscles-pumped-for.html>

5-Kwon, Young Sub. “Effect Of Palm Temperature On Fatigue During High Intensity Bench Press Exercise.” Med Sci Sports Exerc.2010 Aug;42(8):1557-65. Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20139781. Full Text: https://repository.unm.edu/handle/1928/9811

 

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2 Responses to Blood flow restriction – A new way to use blood flow restriction training

  1. Rick Smith August 5, 2014 at 11:27 AM #

    I just started doing BFR about two months ago…seeing some growth…and a huge improvement in my biceps tendinitis!
    Do you do any sets of BFR to failure? Or all? Also, as the loads become eaiser, do you just up the reps, or will you ever increase the weight?

    Rick

    • Peashock August 5, 2014 at 2:39 PM #

      Hi RIck,

      Typically, BFR is done using low loads. Currently, the most used model is 3 sets with reps of 30, 15, 15 and you keep the wraps on for the duration with 30 seconds of rest in between. You want to hit your target reps (30, 15, 15) with a controlled motion. If you can’t, then lower the weight. If using this model, try to find the weight needed to hit the 30, 15, 15, but realize that this is not the all be all and you can experiment with different ideas and see what works best for you.

      Now, I used BFR backwards and used it with high intensity unilateral circuits where you restrict the resting arm only and perform with the non-restricted arm. All my sets (4 total per circuit) of BFR were to failure (targeting 8-12 reps). When I get stronger and start doing more reps outside of my 8-12 target range, then I up the weight.

      For this round of testing/article, I was using a negative pressure, palm cooling sleeve, and it seems to have helped me build strength (where my rep total would increase on back to back circuit days, maybe active recovery?), but I need more data and to compare it without the palm cooling device to say for sure. My hypothesis is that it does help make this circuit easier and allows you to add more volume and reps by increasing muscle activation.

      But I’m biased considering that I make the palm cooling sleeve. Just full disclosure on my end.

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