Though the practice of blood flow restriction formally came into existence in the late 1960s, it wasn’t until three decades later that sophisticated research began to emerge. Since the late 1990s, hundreds of peer-reviewed papers have been published demonstrating the efficacy and safety of BFR training. Due to this large volume of available BFR literature, several authors have published systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which examine data from multiple independent and high quality studies to determine overall trends. Below, we’ve provided links to relevant systematic reviews / meta-analyses by category.
Magnitude of Muscle Strength and Mass Adaptations Between High-Load Resistance Training Versus Low-Load Resistance Training Associated with Blood-Flow Restriction: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
“Regarding the hypertrophic response, results revealed similar effects between HL [high load] and BFR-RT [blood flow restricted resistance training]”
“Low-load blood-flow-restricted training appears equally effective of producing gains in maximal voluntary muscle strength compared to HLT in 20- to 80-year-old healthy and habitually active adults.”
“BFR training compared with exercise under normal blood flow conditions could positively influence both aerobic capacity and athletic performance. Differences in young and older subjects were discussed. BFR showed to be a promising and beneficial training to elicit improvements in aerobic capacity (measured in VO2) and performances.”
“Although BFR prescription parameters and exercise interventions varied, the majority of included articles reported BFR training to produce favorable or non-detrimental effects to the cardiovascular, endocrine, and musculoskeletal systems. This review also found mixed effects on psychosocial outcomes when using BFR. Additionally, this review found no detrimental outcomes directly attributed to blood flow restriction training on the test subjects or outcomes tested. Thus, BFR training may be an effective intervention for patient populations that are unable to perform traditional exercise training with positive effects other than traditional distal muscle hypertrophy and strength and without significant drawbacks to the individual.”
“The literature appears to support that BFR can lead to improvements in strength, muscle size, and markers of sports performance in healthy athletes. Combining traditional resistance training with BFR may allow athletes to maximize athletic performance and remain in good health. Additional studies should be conducted to find an optimal occlusive pressure to maximize training improvements.”