Occlusion training is very controversial. Cutting off the blood supply DURING exercise doesn’t exactly sound like a great idea. Depriving your muscles of oxygen and reducing their ability to shed metabolic waste products under physical stress can’t be good for you- can it?
Cook, et al 2013 took 20 semi-professional European rugby players. 10 had a blood occlusion cuff inflated to 180mm Hg inflated intermittently throughout their workout. This was done as a cross over study so everyone had the opportunity to train with the cuff.
Training consisted of 3 weeks of 5 sets of 5 reps of squat, bench press, pullups and repeated sprint ability. Along with these measures, leg power, salivary testosterone and cortisol were also measured.
Pullups showed no difference in results after 3 weeks. The experimental group averaged a 3.5kg increase over the control group in squats and 2.1kg in bench press. Sprint time was reduced by 0.03 secs compared to 0.01secs. None of these numbers are huge. Power on the other hand demonstrated a major difference; 168W vs 68W! Salivary testosterone was .84 compared to control’s .61 and cortisol was .65 vs. .20.
This would suggest that a micro-cycle of occlusion training, pre-season might in fact be a worthwhile investment. Consider your average footballer and how many squats, lunges and sprints he must complete. For every extra watt of power and every extra kilogram lifted pre-season, they will be better prepared in season and have fewer chances of getting injured. Interested in trying this- buy a blood pressure cuff and experiment. Have a spotter on hand to help you out and use your head- this is not for beginners nor did the athletes wear the occlusion cuff the ENTIRE workout. Train hard.