Step Three: Occlusion Training
Occlusion Training is where you wrap around a device to apply pressure towards the proximal (top) of a muscle in order to restrict blood flow to the muscles, for instance wrapping therabands around the top of the thigh whilst performing a single leg leg press.
Various studies have found that the restriction of blood flow reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the working muscle, this fatigues the slow-twitch muscle fibres, therefore, more fast-twitch fibers are activated despite a low external weight load.
Impact: The fast twitch muscle fibres are activated to increase functional mass favourable for fast contractions – needed for explosive actions such as a punch.
Where have we used this before?
We used Occlusion training to help amateur boxer Callum Beardow gain 2 kg of muscle mass during rehabilitation training following shoulder surgery.
Due to time spent off training due to recovery from the surgery, Callum has seen a rapid decrease in muscle mass. Standing at a modest 5”10, Callum’s muscular build is vital for him competing at 81 kg. Therefore, our main objective was for him to regain this skeletal muscle mass as quickly as possible.
Considering the amount of soreness and strain on tendons that may occur from weight training, Callum was restricted in how much external load in the initial stages of rehab. Therefore, we opted to prescribe Occlusion Training as this is a great way to increase functional mass without exposing an athlete to heavy weight training.
The biggest improvement was 8% increase in arm muscle mass, this was important to protect his shoulders when returning to training.