Ever wonder if it’s possible to build muscle mass by lifting less weight? And if there was, would it be something you might want to try? If the answer is yes then strap yourself in for a an effective technique known as occlusion training. 

Occlusion training is the act of causing a blockage of blood to the muscle groups being exercised with the use of cuffs, bands, or wraps.  The term “occlusion” has a literal definition of “a closure or blockage.”

The main benefit of occlusion training is that it actually allows the body to respond to low level intensity exercise – best used for fat loss – in the same way it does to moderate intensity exercise best used for muscle gain. This means you are able to get the same muscle building benefits while lifting lighter weight as you would by lifting heavier weight.

For muscle growth during conventional training, you need to use heavy weights (over 65% of your 1RM). However, occlusion training with lighter weights (20 -50% of 1RM) has shown to achieve muscle & strength gains comparable to conventional training with heavier weights (around 80% 1RM).

How It Works to Increase Muscle Growth

Muscles are made of two types of fibers: Type 2 & Type 1 fibers, Type 2 fibers are the ones which grow easily and make you look big. But Type 2 fibers are only recruited when you go to failure, or when you use heavy weights (>80% 1RM).

When lighter loads are combined with occlusion, Type 2 fibers are recruited way early in the set, just like when you are doing a heavier weight, so they get naturally bigger.

The benefits of occlusion training are that it increases growth hormone and IGF-1. It can also increase your 1 rep max.

How To Perform 

  • Wrap the strap around the top of the muscle you’re working (quad, bicep, etc.).
  • Make sure it’s wrapped tightly (this may feel a bit uncomfortable at first).
  • Using a light load, begin your set.
  • Try not to loosen the straps between sets as it will keep the blood trapped in that particular muscle.

Mehmet Edip, is a fitness model, writer, and competitive bodybuilder who contributes regularly to a variety of top international fitness magazines and websites. He is currently a Powertec ambassador and former Gaspari UK athlete.  
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