Occlusion training is simply a way of restricting blood flow in the veins of a working muscle in hopes to kick-start some larger gains in muscle size and strength. For example, you can wrap an elastic band around the top of your leg before doing your squat workout. It sounds crazy, and a little bit scary, but there's definitely something to it.
An article in the Military Times reported that one form of occlusion training, called Kaatsu, is "a revolutionary new training system" from Japan that is blowing fitness researchers' minds. Does that sound too good to be true? A little, right? Well, let’s take a closer look.
What is Occlusion or BFR Training?
During this workout, a specific type of tourniquet (similar to what a phlebotomist uses on your arm when you are giving blood) slows down the movement of the blood that is flowing back to your heart. This allows the limbs that are doing the workout to become engorged with blood.
This specific type of veinous occlusion significantly increases the concentration lactate in your blood, at lower workout intensity or weight. This, in essence, simulates the feeling of a much harder workout in the muscles while also tricking the brain into thinking the body is performing a very difficult workout. As a result, your pituitary gland (a tiny organ found at the base of the brain) releases more growth hormones (reportedly up to 170 percent more) along with hormones that are directly related to muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) including IGF-1, MTORC1, and myostatin.