As US Army veteran and IFBB Pro, Jeremy Potvin is recovering from a partial distal bicep tendon rupture with a technique known as Blood Flow Restriction training or BFR to get back into flexing shape, M&F takes a closer look.

“Blood Flow Restriction training safely prevents low-oxygen blood from leaving the muscle while allowing oxygenated blood to travel to that same muscle,” explained Potvin in an informative Instagram post on June 3, 2024. “This brings nutrition to the injured area and helps it grow stronger.” Famously, Potvin developed a passion for bodybuilding while serving in Iraq and has since appeared at five Mr Olympia events since 2016. Unfortunately, 2024 dealt a blow to the Men’s Physique competitor however, when he ruptured his bicep tendon while out bowling just days before his official Olympia prep could begin.

What is Blood Flow Restriction Training?

Blood Flow Restriction training was discovered in the 1970s by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, who developed this method to maintain muscle mass while wearing a cast following a leg break. These days, it is done using a specifically designed pneumatic strap or cuff on the injured limb to restrict the return blood flow of deoxygenated blood, whereas occlusion is the act of completely stopping the blood flow both ways. An advantage of BFR training is that it releases metabolites associated with intense training, increases the heartrate, and activates our Type II fast-twitch muscle fibers. The injured limb is only required to lift lighter weights to achieve these results. “I’ll be incorporating this from now on in my arm and back days to help promote recovery,” explains Potvin.

Does Blood Flow Restriction Training Work?

A huge systematic review in 2021 “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.”

What does that mean? Well, simply put: Blood Flow Restriction training wasn’t found to produce any negative outcomes in the review for those participating in terms of cardiovascular, endocrinologic, musculoskeletal, or psychosocial outcomes. A number of studies have backed up the theory that low-intensity BFR training is a comparable training stimulus to high-intensity resistance training, BFR has even elicited a greater increase in free testosterone concentrations than those not using this method, offering a potential explanation for the increased muscle-mass that is gained by many who have executed BFR training correctly. While further research is ongoing to determine what other factors are at play with BFR, it seems that Potvin is laser focused on his recovery, and may just have found a way to get himself back on stage sooner rather than later. We wish him a speedy return to bodybuilding competition!

Follow Jeremy Potvin’s progress on IG!