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It seems like these days, tickets to the gun show are always on sale. There is no shortage of guys out there attempting to add some serious mass to their arms and fill in those sleeves. That being said, there are plenty of guys out there who are getting frustrated with the lack of results they are seeing from their arm training. With so many workout modalities out there, nothing seems to be working. Then they’re introduced to occlusion training and their head explodes.
What is it about occlusion training that seems to be a gamechanger for many? When used correctly, the amount of size you put on your arms can be quite impressive. But what exactly is this wizardry I speak of and how does it work? That’s exactly what we’re going to go over (David Blaine not required).
For starters, there are several names for this style of training. Obviously, one of them is occlusion training like what we have been calling it, but the other names for this training are blood flow restriction (BFR) training and hypoxic training.
Have you ever been to the gym and saw someone with what appeared to be cuff, band, or even ACE wrap around a body part? While you may have thought they were nursing an injury, the fact is they could have been utilizing occlusion training.
During occlusion training, a band/cuff/or wrap is used to tightly restrict blood flow out of a specific muscle. While it’s possible to use this training technique with nearly all muscle groups, arms and legs are great muscle groups to implement occlusion training with.
When using occlusion training as part of your muscle-building protocol, you can use dedicated occlusion training devices or simply grab a pair of knee wraps if you wanted something a little cheaper (since they are probably already in your gym bag).
With the device or wrap, what you're going to want to do is apply it "high and tight" on the body part you're trying to occlude. You can think of the technique similarly to putting a tourniquet on to stop bleeding.
How you physically apply the device or wrap is incredibly important. Too tight and you’re going to find your limbs going numb and tingle. Too loose and you’re not going to effectively implement this training protocol. That said, it’s better to err on the side of being a little loose than way too tight. The goal is to wrap the device or wrap tight enough to stop the flow of blood out of the muscle you are targeting. Blood is still able to enter the muscle through arterial flow. This process has some advantages which are explained below.
Let’s be honest, a good set of arms is incredibly impressive. When your sleeves look like they are about to tear (and not because you’re wearing a “smedium” shirt), you’re going to turn some heads. Occlusion training is a great way to pump up your arms and add some sizeable gains.
Speaking of “pump,” when you use this style of training in the gym, you may find you have the most intense pumps you’ve ever experienced. We’re talking about pumps that you’d swear your skin is going to tear open at any moment and your sleeves are going to split at the seams. This is from blood swelling the muscle and not being able to leave.
But there are some advantages to using occlusion training during your weekly workouts. Here are three reasons to implement this training style.
Here is what's great about occlusion training – you don't need to go heavy to see amazing results. In fact, you can see results by using as little as 20% of your one-rep max (1RM). That said, the best results seem to have been shown when using around 40% of your 1RM during workouts.
When implementing a weight at 40% of your 1RM, it has been found that you are able to recruit the most fast-twitch muscle fibers from this style of training. The more muscle fibers you can activate and cause microtears in, the greater your ability to add quality size to the muscle when those fibers are able to recover properly and come back bigger and stronger than before.
Additionally, due to the fact that you’re not only activating more muscle fibers using occlusion, you’re also increasing the metabolic stress (buildup of metabolites) within the muscle.
Longevity is important for success in the gym. The longer you can exercise without banged-up joints, the more and better results you can achieve over time. Unfortunately, many people like to push extreme amounts of weight which can lead to joint pain or worse, injuries. Through occlusion training, you can get amazing results without punishing your joints with heavy weights all of the time.
Step right up and get yourself a front-row seat! Better yet, join in!
A workout of this caliber is hard and heavy. You can do something such as a biceps curl for three sets of 30 reps with around 20 seconds of rest between sets. Then for your triceps, you could use something like a triceps pushdown on the cable machine and do three sets of 30 reps with 20 seconds of rest between sets. All in all, your arm workout should be around 10 minutes when using occlusion training.
While occlusion is a great way to add some serious mass to not only your arms but the whole body, you still need to focus on your nutrition and proper supplementation. To get the most out of your training, it would be wise to utilize an amino acid supplement that includes essential amino acids such as GAT Sport Flexx EAAs + Hydration. This will not only help you recover faster between sets (and post-workout), but it will also help you stay properly hydrated and replace important minerals that you may have lost through sweat.
Finally, you want to finish your workout with a quality protein shake to help kickstart the recovery process and get vital nutrients shuttled out to the muscles to start repairing the torn down muscle fibers. GAT Sport Nitra Whey is a delicious 100% isolate blend that is fast-digesting. In addition to having 25g of protein per serving, it also contains 150mg of patented Nitraflex CFB and 250mg of Tribulus.
Take occlusion training for a ride and experience this intense training style for yourself!