How To Get Bigger Muscles With Occlusion Training


If you're a seriously hardcore trainer, then the chances are you use techniques such as eccentric reps and drop sets, with the goal of breaking down muscle fibres and forcing them to respond with growth. However, one strategy you might not have considered, is OCCLUSION TRAINING - a science-based intensifier that uses restricted blood flow to boost anabolism. Check out the theory of how to get bigger muscles with occlusion training, and whether it's safe...


Occlusion training is a method of preventing  the return of venous blood to a muscle. Simply put, this means that blood can flow into a muscle but it can't easily escape, causing it to build-up in greater concentration. To perform this type of training, apply the following guidelines, using a strap to carefully restrict blood flow:

- Strap a muscle group by tightening it at the top of the muscle (e.g. at the top of your biceps).
- Only use wraps applied at 60-70% maximum tightness for safety!
- Try 3-4 sets of an exercise to muscle failure using 20-30% 1 Rep Max.
- Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets (keep the muscle wrapped).
- Once completed, remove the wraps and stretch for 5-10 minutes.
- Use X-PLODE HARDCORE™ and BCAA INTRA HARDCORE™ to get a quality pump and flood muscles with amino acids.

Research has shown that by using this training strategy, healthy trainers can safely build muscle and boost strength using loads as low as 20% 1 Rep Max [1].

The lack of blood flow and oxygen, forces muscles to utilise fast-twitch type I muscle fibres, which are generally reserved for use during very heavy lifting. These fibres have the most potential for hypertrophy [2]. What's more, regularly utilising this training method has been shown to increase fast-twich fibre concentration, potentially enhancing the capacity for growth even more [3]. Scientists speculate that restricted blood flow boosts levels of GH, protein synthesis and other substrates associated with muscle hypertrophy [4].


Blood Flow Restriction Training isn't meant to replace standard weight training – it's an intensifier that can be used to periodically increase muscle stimulation, much like drop sets and eccentric reps. As an example, try 1 occlusion workout per week for 4 weeks, then take a break. Alternatively, add it to the end of your regular arms workout, as a hardcore finisher. Be warned – the lactic acid build-up makes occlusion training a hardcore strategy that needs a 'no pain no gain' mindset to handle!

If the idea of using wraps doesn't appeal, then an effective alternative is to perform some super slow sets, squeezing your muscles hard at the peak of each rep. This approach forces blood to pool in your muscles, in a similar way to occlusion training. Try it out using super sets for your triceps and biceps.

[1] Loenneke JP and Pujol TJ. The Use of Occlusion Training to Produce Muscle Hypertrophy. Strength & Conditioning Journal. 31(3): 77-84, June 2009.
[2] Takarada et al. Effects of resistance exercise combined with moderate vascular occlusion on muscle function in humans. J Appl Physiol 88: 2097–2106, 2000.
[3] Kawada S and Ishii N et al. Changes in skeletal muscle size, fiber-type composition and capillary supply after chronic venous occlusion in rats. Acta Physiol 192: 541–549, 2008.
[4] Takarada Y et al. Rapid increase in plasma growth hormone after low-intensity resistance exercise with vascular occlusion. J Appl Physiol 88: 61–65, 2000.


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