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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tourniquet Training for Intermediate Bodybuilders

Among the many tools employed by bodybuilders looking for a change of pace or means to break through the proverbial wall is a method called tourniquet training. Tourniquet training involves tying an elastic band around an extremity of the body, and then training the muscle group. The change in blood flow to the region, coupled with tightening effect on the muscle group being trained, does have some effects. But are they desired, are they beneficial, and are they safe in the long run?

The science behind it

When the blood flow to a region is cut off, several things happen. Inflammation occurs. Cells are damaged. Above all, localized anabolic hormones are released. There are even studies that show there are positive effects upon myostatin levels.

These things are all good for muscle building, and are actually the goals every time we pick up a weight - to literally "tear" the muscle fibers so that they may grow back stronger (and bigger!).

Me! thod

The key to successful tourniquet training is to use LOW intensity. Tie off a muscle group, particularly in the extremity, such as around the bicep or thigh region. Complete a 10 to 20 repetition set. Untie the tourniquet and allow blood to flow back into the region. Stretch and massage the muscle area. There may be some tingling or numbness. After all, you are cutting off blood flow; much like when you lie on your arm and it falls asleep. Wait 2 to 4 minutes, then complete another set in this manner. Use it as a supplemental tool to your standard training, perhaps 3 to 4 sets at the end of that muscle group's workout.


Training using tourniquets can be dangerous, and put the bodybuilder at risk for maladies associated with blood flow blockage, including strokes. Muscle tissue can die as well. The ensuing swelling, numbness, and tingling in the tied area could lead to other unknown long term injuries, or at the very least, keep you out ! of the gym for a few days, hindering progress.

Reward! s

In the short term, bodybuilders have found that tourniquet training does lead to a temporary boost in growth in a particular muscle region, as well as localized swelling. It will be impossible for the bodybuilder to determine exactly the cause of physical change in the region - it could be growth, it could just be ruptured muscle cells. The end result could be new muscle, or it could be a damaged muscle group which will take time to heal. There are advocates of this training method who believe it works wonders in breaking plateaus, and there are trainers and physicians who strongly recommend never employing this method, as any attempt to block blood flow to a muscle group should be forbidden, in their book. Do your research, analyze your goals and needs, then determine if tourniquet training is a tool you'd like to add to your training regimen, or one you'd like to leave at home.

Dane Fletcher is the world's most prolific bodybuilding and fitness expert and is curr! ently the executive editor for If you are looking for more bodybuilding tips or information on weight training, or supplementation, please visit, the bodybuilding and fitness authority site with hundreds of articles available FREE to help you meet your goals.

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