A while back I was in Pensacola Florida visiting Dr. Ken Ford, the founder and director of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition to work on a story about the ketogenic diet for Outside Magazine. Ford is a thought leader in the field of nutritional ketosis as well as a number of other fields, including artificial intelligence, robotics and many topics related to longevity, human resilience and human performance.

During my day at IHMC, he asked me what I knew about blood flow restriction training. I’d never heard of it. He explained to how it was a technology he was confident would be extremely helpful to those wanting to quash some of the muscle-wasting that happens when a human being ages. Fundamentally, it allowed someone who couldn’t might break to pieces lifting heavy weights still get the strength, power and hormonal benefits of that lifting a heavy weight triggers. Rather than trying to hoist barbell loaded with heavy weights you could use a light dumbbell to stimulate similar effects.

My personal interest right now is in one of the possible opportunities BFR has: helping fully recover from an injury. As I’ve written about before, I have two weak spots that have just about driven me crazy over the last 10 years: My left achilles tendon and muscles that stabilize my right knee. The question is: Will BFR help me not just manage these injuries but allow me to regain full (or nearly full) mobility, strength and power? This will be a feature in an upcoming issue of LAVA Magazine, as the U.S. Ski Team has been raking in a host of benefits from using (Be) Strong.

After Dr. Ford’s introduction to it, I went looking for BFR gear on Amazon and was freaked out by some of the cheap contraptions that looked like little more than tourniquets. I called Ford to get some context: I was right to be freaked out. If you get into BFR training, invest in the right stuff, like (Be) Strong or KAATSU.

The potential benefits of BFR for triathletes go beyond the rehab angle I’m exploring. Listen to this discussion with  Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen to get a read on what the future may hold for this. Additionally, find a good log of the science here and also a list of links at the bottom of this page (research mentioned in the STEM-Talk podcast).

Episode 34: Jim Stray-Gundersen explains how blood flow restriction training builds muscle and improves performance



Rapid increase in plasma growth hormone after low-intensity resistance exercise with vascular occlusion

Effects of resistance exercise combined with moderate vascular occlusion on muscular function in humans

— Repetitive restriction of muscle blood flow enhances mTOR signaling pathways in a rat model

Use and safety of KAATSU training: Results of a national survey

Blood flow-restricted exercise in space

— Proliferation of myogenic stem cells in human skeletal muscle in response to low-load resistance training with blood flow restriction

— Blood flow-restricted strength training displays high functional and biological efficacy in women: a within-subject comparison with high-load strength training

— Applications of vascular occlusion diminish disuse atrophy of knee extensor muscles