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Can blood flow restriction workouts help you?

MAR 29, 2023

Minute 1: These forward thinking trainers are mixing things up

We were intrigued by this headline that appeared a few days ago: “What’s the Future of Fitness? We Asked 5 of the World’s Best Trainers to Find Out.” The story didn’t disappoint and raised some workout approaches that indeed go well beyond HIIT or LSD. First on the list is blood-flow restriction. By wearing pressurized bands around your limbs, athletes are able to restrict the amount of blood that reaches their muscles, simulating the experience of intense exercise while keeping impact forces low. You can find more details in “Olympic Athletes Are Into Blood Flow Restriction Training – Does It Work?” Research suggests that BFR triggers a greater adaptive response in your muscles while experiencing less inflammation, which can help prevent burnout and lower your risk of injury. Next, let’s learn about the “Benefits of Reflex Training with Reaction Pods.” Reflex training uses lights and other stimuli that indicate where you’re supposed to move, touch, or hit. By reacting to the pods, you’ll improve your reaction times while teaching your body how to move quickly in a safe and controlled manner. The last technique that caught our eye was eccentric training, where athletes focus on the lengthening portion of an exercise so that they can take on an increased resistance level. For more info, read “Eccentric Training Offers Big Bang for Your Strength Training Buck.”

Minute 2: Make your veggies more enjoyable

Research has shown that Americans could be doing a lot better when it comes to eating their fruits and veggies: “Only 1 in 10 adults eating enough fruits and vegetables, CDC finds.” We get it, as healthy as vegetables are, they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to flavor. That doesn’t have to be the case, however, because there’s a lot you can do to prepare your veggies in a tasty way, according to: “An Adult’s Guide to Finally Learning to Like Vegetables.” If you picked up your aversion to greens at a young age, we have good news. Your taste buds have likely changed, becoming less sensitive to bitter flavors found in veggies that are often the cause of our dislike. Not only that, but you can also add all sorts of flavorful ingredients to your vegetables and still reap the nutritional benefits. A bit of butter, salt, garlic, herbs, or bacon can go a long way to improving the taste. These “55 Air Fryer Vegetable Recipes” can add a satisfyingly crispy texture to your veggies as well. Salads give you a lot of freedom to tailor to your liking, adding the dressing or protein of your choice to keep things interesting. For ideas, check out: “12 Easy Ways to Make Salad Taste Amazing – Seriously.” Not only will they taste great, but leafy green salads also contain a lot of calcium, which is vital for runners and their bone health. For a deeper dive, check out: “Why Runners Need Calcium: The Importance of Calcium for Runners.”

Minute 3: How to maximize your efficiency

We’re taking it back to the 80s for this minute, because we wanna get physical. We mean that in every sense of the word, because we’ve found a stellar breakdown of a training method developed by Olaf Aleksander Bu, whose background is in physics and engineering: “How To Understand Human Efficiency and Its Impact on Triathlon Achievement.” Imagine a car that needs to travel 100 miles as fast as possible. It could go 100 mph, but it will run out of gas 2 miles before the finish. If the car travels at 98 mph, it experiences less air resistance, allowing it to travel the full distance without emptying the tank. Paradoxically, going slower allows the car to arrive in less time, and similar phenomena can occur for endurance athletes. The same basic principle applies to triathlons, running races and cycling events. Race day diet is an example of a “less is more” path to efficiency, according to: “What to Eat Before Running Any Distance (& What Not to Eat).” Consuming too much food will add weight and use energy to digest it. While it’s important to have enough calories to fuel your race, remember that there’s a point of diminishing returns, where eating more will only slow you down. Similarly, some experts believe running faster uphill will hurt your overall race performance. In “How to Run Hills Properly,” they recommend keeping your effort level consistent, rather than pace, so that you aren’t burnt out at the top with a whole lot of mileage left to run.


Minute 4: Sports are becoming pay-to-play

One of the reasons we’ve always loved running is the simplicity of the sport. Shoes, shorts, t-shirt and we’re out the door. We were disappointed to learn in this NYT story, however, that despite the low-cost nature of many sports, the next generation of athletes faces diminishing opportunities: “The Income Gap Is Becoming a Physical-Activity Divide.” Sports, like much of American society, is becoming barbelled – the wealthy have more athletic and fitness opportunities than ever before, while lower income folks are disadvantaged. We live in a time where elite private soccer clubs are charging families thousands of dollars per year and telling kids to ditch their high school teams to play in showcases around the country. 70% of kids from wealthy families participate in sports, according to the CDC, while just 31% of kids from low income families enjoy that experience. The Child Mind Institute reports this stunning statistic: “The average American child spends about 4 to 7 minutes a day playing outside and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.” We are lucky that organizations like the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston and the New York Road Runners youth programs offer track and field opportunities for young athletes of all income levels.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • One of the most enjoyable things about running is that there are an endless number of ways to approach it. You can stick to roads if you like consistency and getting to know your neighborhood, or hit the trails for scenic views. Perhaps the best way of all is to try a bit of everything, according to this new story from Canadian Running: “5 reasons new runners should try all types of running.”

  • Speaking of variety, did you know the different surfaces we choose to run on can have dramatically different effects on our bodies? If you need a cheat sheet to the pros and cons of every surface, check out this “Guide to Running on Concrete and Other Surfaces.”

  • Time and time again, we’ve seen proof that it doesn’t take a gym membership or expensive equipment to build muscle. All you need is your own body, some space, and a calculated approach. One of the most difficult but rewarding bodyweight exercises is the pullup, and “These are all the reasons you should be doing more pull-ups.” There are a long list of benefits for this move, which is why it fits right at home with “The 16 Best Bodyweight Exercises for More Muscle and Mobility.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Earlier this issue, we mentioned the most efficient ways to tackle hill running, and if you want to see that advice put into action, take a look at this video from @garyhouse_. In addition to a slow, controlled ascent, Gary suggests a mental trick known as the push-off technique. That’s when you hit the top of the hill and force yourself to continue jogging, however slowly, for 20 seconds. Oftentimes, this period will be enough for you to catch your breath and press on without stalling any of your momentum, which is exactly what you need to run a strong race regardless of the terrain. Check out the clip below to see why it’s better to push off a hill than push up one..


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