Can a Specialized Training Method Used by Olympians, Help Solve the Potentially Serious Issue of Muscle Loss After 40? Olympic Physician, Thinks So.
It is well documented, but astounding that physically inactive people can lose as much as 3-5% of their skeletal muscle mass each decade after age 30, also known as Sarcopenia. Strength and muscle loss with aging, is indeed, a well-known and common condition characterized not only by loss of muscle mass, but loss of function and balance and may compromise activities of daily living, or ADL perpetuating more and more health problems.
High intensity exercise and significant resistance weight training, along with a ton of supplements and pills can help curb the early signs of sarcopenia; however, supplements are expensive and high-intensity workouts can become too difficult to actually do at the level needed to facilitate gains, and can be overly time consuming.
Cutting Edge Exercise Modality to Defy Muscle Mass: A well-researched, somewhat secret modality used by Olympians and Physical Therapists for decades to quickly build muscle, strength, power, and lean body mass is now making its way into mainstream workout sessions - called Blood Flow Restriction Training or BFR. BFR has been proven to have significant increases in muscle mass even in populations, including boomer and senior populations. This is great news in the fight against osteopenia and sarcopenia and the lifestyles these diseases significantly alter. The easiest way to avoid muscle loss is to continuously build muscle. As you age, BFR is an ideal process to continuously build muscles as you age.
"Blood Flow Restriction Training or BFR, is a catalyst to garner more benefits from lighter exercise in order to build muscle, strength and increase lean body mass.”— Sports Scientist, Olympic Physician, Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD
Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD is an international BFR expert, Sport Scientist, and Clinical Physician who lectures, teaches, and authors BFR certification courses explains, “In my years of investigating the applications, mechanisms, and controversies of BFR, I have found the phenomenon to be a game changer that can be added to any current workout a person is doing. BFR is a catalyst to garner more benefits from normal exercise to build muscle and strength.”
“According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to elicit gains in strength and muscle growth, we need to work out at a level of 70% of our one rep maximum (Hughes et al, 2017). To some, that is unattainable. Many cannot even get to that level, much less work at the level for an extended time, but to reap the benefits of exercise, it is necessary. BFR solves the problem.
"By adding BFR to your workout, similar, if not better, gains in muscle strength and size can be attained at 20% of your one-rep max. (Loennek, 2017). BFR, using safe equipment and following guidelines can mitigate so many issues compromising strength, muscle, and balance,” continues Stray-Gundersen.
Fitness icon, Kathy Smith agrees. “I have been involved in the fitness industry for over 40 years, and one of the frequently asked questions in the Fitness Over 40 community, is ‘how do I defy muscle loss?’ BFR is the answer and I think it will revolutionize the industry.”
BFR will stimulate more motor units with exercise and impact fast twitch muscle fibers, which are negatively impacted with sarcopenia. All of this can be performed very safely for older adults, while still getting the benefits that are typically only obtained with high intensity exercise. BFR provides an opportunity to minimize muscle loss with age and allow maintenance of function. This is also just looking at the local muscular impact let alone the hormonal benefit.
What is BFR?
BFR is an exercise technique that manipulates the body’s circulatory system, and when combined with exercise, produces rapid gains in strength and fitness using lightweights, and in a very short period of time. BFR is a game changer for any level of fitness, for recovery, muscle growth, strength, power, performance improvement, and lean body mass. You can do BFR anytime, with any type of exercise and get results in less time than traditional exercise.
Sounds too good to be true, but science says it works and, in less time, than traditional exercise, using only 20% to 30% of what is typically needed to increase muscle mass. B Strong BFR bands fight muscle loss by putting pressure on the veins directly beneath them in your arms and legs, creating a kind of valve. When one exercises, that pushes the blood past the valve back toward the heart.
The uniquely designed patent-pending bands safely slow down the delivery of oxygen so that the working muscle cannot keep up, creating a bit of a "crisis" in the muscle. The result of this 'crisis' actually tricks the brain to elicit and release significant amounts of growth hormone which helps rapidly improve the size and strength and power of muscles, build new blood vessels, actually strengthen bone, and get leaner due to an anabolic state which is breaking down fat without a long arduous exercise session.
Does it Work: A 2017 study by researchers in Sao Paulo involving 23 men and women between the ages of 51 and 70 found that while high-intensity weight training produced the best results, BFR training with weights weighing one-fourth as much produced substantial gains in both strength and muscle mass. BFR “constitutes an important surrogate approach to high-intensity resistance training as an effective training method to induce gains in muscle strength and mass in elderly,” wrote Carlos Ugrinowitsch and his colleagues.
Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD, sports scientist and co-founder of B Strong BFR Bands, a unique form of Blood Flow Restriction training, has used this well-researched method of training to stay ahead of the game and defy muscle loss. When following proper protocols, and safe equipment BFR can be a game changer in developing significant strength gains using light weights and in short sessions even more effective than lifting heavy weights.
"In my 30 years of maximizing human performance at the highest level of sport, I have never seen a more profound way to gain strength, power, and lean body mass, than with BFR," says sports scientist, Olympic Physician, Jim Stray-Gundersen, MD.