Blood Flow Restriction: The Key to Effectiveness and Efficiency in Training with Sten Stray-Gundersen

Boomer Anderson
August 19, 2020
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Blood Flow Restriction training offers an asymmetric return on time invested in exercise. Sten Stray-Gundersen shares his experience training elite level athletes with Blood Flow Restriction insights on BFR contributes to minimum effective dose training.

Who is Sten Stray-Gundersen?

Sten Stray-Gundersen, M.S. is a graduate researcher in the Clinical Exercise Physiology Laboratory in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology with emphasis on Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Physiology.

Sten has authored several studies assessing the safety and feasibility of utilizing BFR for both healthy and clinical populations. Additionally, Sten works as an Exercise Physiologist and Program Advisor for an Austin-based holistic performance center called Reach Outcomes (we are in the process of changing the name, so I may have an update for you soon), where he works with professional and amateur athletes to improving all aspects of performance.

Sten is also a Science Advisor and BStrong BFR expert for BStrong Inc, where he has worked with top-level athletes and teams ranging from the Olympic level to military personnel to the youth and collegiate levels, developing personalized protocols and programs for performance.


[4:46] The vast capabilities of Blood Flow Restriction

[9:36] Blood Flow Restriction in Power Lifting

[12:30] BFR’s impact on the nervous system, Growth Hormone, and aging

[20:12] High-level athletes and Blood Flow Restriction Training

[25:27] mTOR Overactivation

[28:49] Training routines

[35:10] High reps, Low weights, Pink Dumbells, and BFR

[37:50] Occlusion

[49:01] Stacking BFR with other workouts

[1:00:23] Bstrong innovations to the BFR training


B Strong Blood Flow Restriction - Get 10% discount on checkout with Promo Code BOOMER

Combined effects of low-intensity blood flow restriction training and high-intensity resistance training on muscle strength and size

Walking with Leg Blood Flow Restriction: Wide-Rigid Cuffs vs. Narrow-Elastic Bands

Hemodynamic and Pressor Responses to Combination of Yoga and Blood Flow Restriction

Episode Transcript

Boomer Anderson: [00:00:00]Welcome to decoding superhuman. This show is a deep dive into obsessions withhealth performance, and how to elevate the human experience. I explore thelatest tools, science and technology with experts in various fields of humanoptimization. This is your host. Enjoy the journey

today, we are talking one of my favorite subjects,asymmetric returns on exercise with Sted stray Gundersen. Instead of ourtypical sponsor out here. Let me give you a little bit of the backstory on howI came to know be strong. A very good friend of mine sent me a text message andsaid, Hey, you need to check out this device.

It is right up your alley. And I had been investigatingblood flow restriction training for a very long time. You see a lot of peopleusing it in a gym. They tie bandanas around their biceps and do all kinds ofcrazy things. And it's extremely effective. And there's a ton of science goingback well, decades on the training system.

But I wanted a device that was safe and a team that wastruly dedicated to the science. And so when this text message came, I reachedout to be strong immediately and said, Hey, I needed to try this thing. And theresults are absolutely phenomenal on days where I don't have time to work out. Iput the be strong training system on and in under 20 minutes I get an effectiveworkout and I am sweating.

So, if you want to try this out, head on over That's the letter B Use the code boomer andyou'll get 10% off. Sten stray Gundersen is my guest today. He is a researcherin the clinical exercise and physiology laboratory at the kinesiologydepartment at the university of Texas at Austin.

That first sentence is a mouthful. He's pursuing his PhD inexercise physiology with an emphasis on cardiovascular and cardiopulmonaryphysiology. Stan has authored several studies, assessing the safety andfeasibility of blood flow restriction technologies for both healthy andclinical populations. He works as an exercise physiologist and program advisorfor the Austin based holistic performance center called reach outcomes.

And he also serves as a scientific advisor and forrestriction training expert for be strong inc. There he's worked with many toplevel athletes, people that we get into on the show today and teams rangingfrom the Olympic level to military personnel, to youth, to collegiate levels,and certainly everything in between.

This is an amazing conversation that I should probably justtitle asymmetric ways to develop anabolic responses. Maybe that will be theepisode title, maybe it won't, but we talk about the biochemistry of blood flowrestriction training. Talk about why you may want to be concerned aboutocclusion and really.

That anabolic response and how to produce it using variousdifferent scenarios, both in minimum effective dose training, which you guysknow I'm very, very interested in and how to stack it with other workouts. Theshow notes for this one are decoding that's S T E N. And ifyou like this one head on over to Apple podcasts and leave a five star ratingbecause wow.

It was a doozy. Let's get onto my conversation with Stanstray Gundersen. Let's give another shout out to a listener. Shall we? Thissubject is great info. I enjoyed listening to Dan, discuss epigenetics andexploration into how it can be utilized for better health. That episode's goingway, way back. But thank you so much for the five star review.

And I really appreciate you guys digging back into thatepisode catalog, if you will, and really listening to the beginning. Show'scome a long way, but I remember those episodes. Let's move on with theconversation. Sten, welcome to the show.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:04:44]Hey boomer. Thanks for having me.

Boomer Anderson: [00:04:46]Alright, so we're gonna jump into a lot today.

And for those watching this on YouTube, we actually have thesame headset on and we may, we may get into a little bit about that headset ina second, but. Okay. Blood flow restriction. And I've had the pleasure of, uh, talking to somebody very close to you, uh, about this recently, but what can't it do?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:05:13]Yeah, so that's a good question to me because a lot of people think of the BFRblood flow restriction as this miracle tool to use in any capacity, whereveryou are, and it'll solve all your problems.

What BFR really is, is a way to tap into the existingphysiology that we have to adapt to stress. And by doing that it, or the way itdoes that is actually in a way, tricking the body into thinking that it'sundergoing massive loads or massive stress, uh, thatthen necessitates adaptation. So the adaptation can be increased musclestrength, increased muscle hypertrophy, uh, increasedblood vessel development, something we call angiogenesis, increased boneformation, all of these things that are normally associated with training.

Um, and reallywhat BFR does, is it taps into that and tries to augment any of thoseadaptations that we would normally see with heavy resistance training or highintensity training such as running intervals and things like that.

Boomer Anderson: [00:06:10]All right, queen queen delve a little bit into the mechanisms here, justbecause, uh, you know, there arequite a few biochemistry nerds that listened to this myself included, and Iwould just love to understand a little bit more about why something's as simpleas restricting blood flow leads to such a massive adaptation.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:06:29]Yeah. So, so one of the things that I, I learned just in studying BFR andcardiovascular physiology in general is just how and blood flow is blood flowis really so vital and it might be seem kind of, um,mundane to say that, but it's really profound. Um, the way that we move the way that we it'sgreat, the way that our cells actually turn over and actually perform theirfunction is through blood flow, getting oxygen, getting the nutrients theyneed, um, and then getting rid ofthose toxins and waste after, uh, energyis produced and those cells use up whatever nutrients were in the bloodstream.

And so when we disrupt that blood flow, that normal flowgoing into and out of the muscle, into and out of the organs, um, we stimulate, uh,a stress to the system and that stress. Then we adaptation any adaptationthat you're gained from anything, whether it's studying, whether it's, um, you know, even drinking, you know, yourbody gets used to these things and tries to adapt to that environment.

And so whenever we disrupt that blood flow, that's a majorstress the system and making it into that. It adapts. Um, so really what happens when you have thecuffs on is, and the reason why we use it lightweights when we use BFR is toreally recruit the fibers and muscle fibers, responsible for aerobicmetabolism, right.

They need oxygen to it in order to produce ATP in order toinitiate muscle contraction and crossbridge cycling. Okay. When we do thoselightweights, normally we can pretty much do it all day. So think of even justan unweighted bicep curl, we can pretty much do that all day. When we don'thave sufficient blood flow going to that muscle, it's further and further intotrouble and by trouble.

I mean, it's, it's using up that oxygen. It's not clearingout the waste that's associated with creating ATP and you, I ended up having torecruit more and more high threshold motor units. And those highest thresholdmotor units are innervating your type two, a and type two X fibers, which arekind of responsible for explosive power and stuff.

Stained, explosive power. Um,And so as you start tiring and fatiguing your type one fibers,things are happening. You're running out of oxygen, we're running out of bloodand you necessarily have to recruit those type two fibers. And those are, likeI said, they're interviews made by higher and higher threshold motor units.

So that's coming from the brain. Um,so the effort in, in the intent in that exercise is also increased.And so we see hypertrophy of those muscle fibers as well as some CNS, uh, developments in strength as well. So thisprocess that, that leads to lower and lower oxygen levels, then again,subsequently recruits those muscle fibers.

And that's really what we're trying to get at when we liftheavy weights or we're running maximally, we're just immediately recruitingthose muscle fibers with BFR. We're kind of getting there gradually.

Boomer Anderson: [00:09:10]Uh, you mentioned CNS, so this. Youand I were discussing before about my, uh, pasthistory of pony, my sympathetic nervous system.

Yes. When I look at. Blood flow restriction training versuslet's say no, some of the workouts that I used to do and sort of West sidesplits with power lifting. Am I necessarily pounding it as much as I am withlet's say one to three rep max or something

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:09:36]like that. So that's a good question. Um, shortanswer is, is no.

Um, so this was avery different way to actually. Recruit those muscle fibers and stimulate evenneurological adaptations, but we're not taxing the external load. The absoluteload that you're subjecting your body to is so much lower that you're not,you're not stressing your CNS all that much. Or I should say as much as aheavy, heavy weight lifting, a heavy, heavy weight.

Um, You're stilltaxing it somewhat. And, and if you use heart rate variability, we can actuallysee that your sympathetic nervous system is turned on. Um, you know, we can get a little bit moreinto the mechanism of, of some, um, nervousfibers that actually are stimulated by using BFR, but also when you're doingnormal resistance training and these things lead to a heightened sympatheticresponse.

The real key would be afar. The real key with the fr is thatalthough we're stimulating that CNS, that sympathetic response during the workout,the parasympathetic post-workout is, is actually elevated. And so notnecessarily during the workout is all that different. You're still having aheightened sympathetic response, but it's really that the fact that you didn'tactually subject your body to high external loads, that you can recover somuch, quickly, so much more quickly.

Boomer Anderson: [00:10:50]So you mentioned a couple of adaptations that happened neurological adaptationat I'm sure a few people perked up when they said that, does BFR make mesmarter or is that just like it, does it help muscles communicate better inthat sense?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:11:07]Does it make it smart, make you smarter? I think that's still, it's still akind of a, maybe that's something that could

Boomer Anderson: [00:11:12]be found in the lab.


Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:11:14]TV, TV, uh, the, okay. But, uh, it certainly helps develop neuromuscularstrength. Um, so the, the way we kindof think about that in the exercise physiology world is, um, you know, really this, this goes out toall the guys who want to look good for the beach. If they don't start training,you know, a month, a month and a half before they want to look good and, andlean out and, um, build somehypertrophy and build some muscle.

Uh, they're kindof doing themselves a disservice, really any, any gains in strength, uh, that happened within the first month oftraining are really neuromuscular. Um, andso essentially you have more myelination on your motor neurons. Um, those, those signals are being sent, uh, more efficiently and also the, the sameamount of stimulus at the neuromuscular junction, uh,elicits a higher force of contraction.

So that's, that's kind of the initial training andadaptations that occur. And then you can get hypertrophy after, you know, sixweeks and beyond of training.

Boomer Anderson: [00:12:09]Okay. Uh, I'm going to table the sixweeks and beyond of training for a second, because I want to drill down alittle bit more on the nervous system point.

Sure. How does that work? Because you mentioned that yes, Iam taxing my sympathetic nervous system, but is there an asymmetric responsewith the parasympathetic nervous system afterwards when you uncuff yourself orif you don't mind going into that a little bit.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:12:32]Yeah. So, you know, and this is still a little bit up to discussion.

Um, you know,there aren't too many papers out there looking at specifically parasympatheticand sympathetic responses. So I want to be careful here and, and just in letpeople know that this is purely speculation. Okay. Um,So the way that I've, I've kind of tried to think about it isbecause you have the external though of being low, your parasympatheticresponse after the workout is just, is going to occur faster than it otherwisewould when you're subjecting your body to actual muscle damage and, and.

Um, high loadstress on your joints. So it's, it's, it's your body kind of picks it up as twovery different things, um, and allowsyour body to recover faster, to get you into parasympathetic state. Um, but so something to kind of like teaseapart here is we have our sympathetic responses and, you know, You have aferret neurons going up to the medulla and then being processed there through aparent neurons, you then have a sympathetic output.

And that includes increased heart rate, increased,increased, sweating, um, increasedblood pressure. The list goes on. What happens when we have a blood flowrestriction bands on is as we're doing that. We're stimulating that sympatheticresponse, but it's more so to do with the restriction of blood flow rather thanthe actual external loads.

And so as soon as we remove that blood flow restriction, allof a sudden your body is working very, very well. And you can recover that muchfaster. Hope. I hope I answered that question adequately. Yeah, absolutely.

Boomer Anderson: [00:14:00]Well, look, I put you on the hot seat there because it's something that I've,I've kind of wondered because we're going to get to frequency of traininglater.

Sure. But there's. My traditional thinking around training,especially in the power lifting world, is that you need a little bit more of abreak than you may need for a

blood flow restriction.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:14:21]Before we go on, I want to, I want to kind of tease apart two things too. Soneuromuscular development and motor neuron recruitment and myelination of thosemotor motor neurons is completely separate from the sympathetic response.

Okay, so you, so you have motor neurons, somatic, motorneurons, going to your muscles and they're innovating those and causing themuffling attraction, but you asked you also have your non-UK nervous system andthat gets split into your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. Andso they're kind of two separate things.

They, they play with each other a little bit. Yeah. Butthey're very distinct, um, pathways.

Boomer Anderson: [00:14:53]Awesome. Uh, let's before we getinto, uh, a lot of things that you'vedone with athletes, et cetera. The other use cases of this because, uh, blood flow restriction training to me, uh, I've seen bodybuilders use it. I've seen alot of people and maybe not necessarily in the right ways, you know, tyingwhatever cloth around their biceps, but other use cases aside from just gettingswol, what are some of the things that you've seen in your experience in termsof using this maybe in a physical therapy sense?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:15:26]Yeah. So the way I like to think about BFR is it's an augmentation of whatevertraining you're normally doing. So what happens with a given workout? Is weeither maximally or we submit, can we stimulate, um,a series of hormones that are released in response to the, themagnitude of stress that, that worked out in Dubai?

So on Sundays when we have it interval day or, or, or onerep max day where we're building up to a limit, max, uh, it's a maximal day. You're probably not going to get alot more augmentation of that adaptation and adaptive response with the use ofVFR. However on the days where you're not, you have a more moderate intensityday or even an easy day, you can use BFR to maximally stimulate that anabolicresponse from those exercises.

And so we can get in a little bit, uh, into how that it actually works, why youcan up the frequency of your given workouts a little bit later, but that's kindof the gist is. Um, we normally havethis ceiling of, of our anabolic response to a given workout. And BFR is kindof a way to make sure that we're, we're closing in that gap.

And we kind of reaching that asthma tote on, on, on thatcurve. Um, and it does this by trickingthe body into thinking that it's a maximal stress and our response is tomaximally adapt. Um, so that's kindof the gist of why, um, we're seeingit can work for hypertrophy, but also if your focus is physical therapy, um, aiding in that healing response.

So doing, doing a fatiguing set of exercises, which youreally normally can't do if you're, if you're really all that injured, um, helps that body adapt. Exercise in generalis anti-aging it's it's, it's a robust healing adaptation or causes robusthealing adaptations. Um, it buildsbetter blood vessels, which again, coming back to the idea of blood flow, beingso vital, more blood blood vessels equals more higher rates of healing andhigher rates of fitness.

Boomer Anderson: [00:17:17]And let's talk about growth hormone because growth hormone to me, uh, And I think there's been studies on thisas sort of like looking at it from an epigenetic age perspective and sort ofreversing that epigenetic age with BFR. I could, in theory, induce significantamounts of growth hormone. Is

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:17:34]that yes.

Yes. Okay. Um, sojust to back up here, because I think it can confuse people. BFR doesn't elicita higher amount of growth hormone than you would normally produce with amaximum exercise session.

Boomer Anderson: [00:17:47]So if I don't produce growth hormone, A high level of growth hormone. Normallyit's not like you're adding, let's say SARMs or something to the equation.

It's not a, it's not like a replacement for. Or it's not a,in addition to

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:18:02]your work. Yeah. The way that we kind of talk about it is an endogenousproduction of growth hormone versus exogenous, right. Or exotic. Yeah.

Boomer Anderson: [00:18:12]That's probably what I could say. Right? Like that's probably,

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:18:16]that's kind of how we break it, break it down.

And so you only have so much indogenous growth hormone thatyou can actually release. Yup. However, especially for people who, like yousaid, who are maybe getting older and have less endogenous production ofBrooklyn on the other side of that point is that a lot of times they're notable to get to an intensity that would elicit a maximal and dodginess ofrelease of growth hormone.

Um, and so this isa good way, an easy way, or I shouldn't say easy it's. It's still pretty toughwhen you have the bands on pretty damn difficult.

Yeah. It's a faster way of slightly more effective way forthat population. Let's say to illicit a maximal growth hormone release.

Boomer Anderson: [00:18:54]And so when I think about other use cases like sarcopenia, which is a hugeproblem in the elderly and then osteopenia, osteoporosis, these all seem very,very logical and it contributes to bone density as well.


Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:19:09]Yes. Uh, and there's the, the verdictis still kind of out on that. Um, whetherit increases bone density, but in a few of our case studies that we've lookedat, I have seen increases in, in bone density. And actually, interestinglyenough, this was in a woman who was osteoporotic. Um,so she was actually able to increase her bone density during, uh, an aggressive, I think it was two, two dayVFR session over over three weeks, um, whichis almost unheard of, um, Withsomeone who's off of your product, you mentioned sarcopenia.

Um, so that's ahuge problem for our, our population right now, uh,particularly the baby boomer population, which is the majority ofour population. Um, and. And actuallyin Japan where this kind of originally developed, they use that as a standardactives for, for dealing with symptoms of sarcopenia, dealing with symptoms ofosteopenia and osteoporosis as well.

Um, so reallyit's, I think in my opinion, it's just a matter of time before, uh, American clinicians really are able to seethis and are exposed to this enough to see the true benefits of it and reallystart implementing it for their patients.

Boomer Anderson: [00:20:12]So we were on one end of the spectrum with the physical therapy side of things.

Now you've had some experience with some pretty damaged highlevel athletes. How does a high level athlete? Yeah. And how does it contributeto their

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:20:26]training? Yeah. So when we talk about high level athletes in general, um, it's totally variable. So everybody hastheir, their specific exercises. They like, um, levelof training that they like.

Uh, and so it's,it's going to be, there's no kind of one stop shop answer for, for that. Um, what I've yeah. It's typically seen asonce, especially once someone is kind of established at the elite, well, saythey're in their thirties. Um, they're,they're kind of, they're just maintaining. They've kind of done the hard workthe past 30 years and are just looking to maintain their level, um, and, and do that in an efficient way.

And so a lot of the times they'll, they'll use this as acomplete replacement for their normal strength training. Um, and part of the reason they like that is,you know, as they're getting a little bit older, they tend to get a little bitmore sore from heavy lifting. They, um, Theyjust feel that they don't feel the need to do that type of lifting anymorebecause they feel just as strong using VFR.

Um, I've also seenif we kind of look looking a little bit more on the younger side and eliteathletes, uh, using it in conjunctionto their strength training sessions, but also, uh,for example, some, some Olympic downhill skiers have been using itwhile they're on the slopes. Um, forvery brief.

Boomer Anderson: [00:21:34]Like, is that just one run?

Or, because that, to me seems you're on the slopes and theseguys aren't exactly on the greens, right? Like they're, they're, they're takingsomething that's a little pretty steep in a squat that seems extremelyfatiguing. So is this their entire training session or is it just like you getdone your run on unclip and then go back up?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:21:55]Yeah. So, so it totally depends a little bit. It's a little bit variable. Um, Some days. So, so what will happen is somedays, uh, those, those skiers will doa normal interval session. Maybe cut that in half and then do two or threesessions with the bands on. So they've kind of stimulated that initialadaptation that they want.

And they're trying to augment it with a little bit of extraBFR in that very sports specific manner. Um, I'lltry to believe. If someone's coming back from injury, they may start, they maystart on a less steep or less intense, uh, youknow, groomer run, uh, and be able touse the bands and really get the same, a very similar feeling of fatigue thatthey get when they're on that ice sheet, going at a 45 degree angle down theslope.

And so it's, it's a safe way to kind of gradually get backin while maintaining the relative intensity of that exercise.

Boomer Anderson: [00:22:42]Okay. Okay. So. All right, let's go back to some of the, some of these Olympicstyle athletes are that high of a level when they're combining this in theirworkout, is it pre or post or is that completely out athlete dependent?

And I guess maybe go through a use case on when you, youjust kind of mentioned pre why you would do it, but post, why would you dosomething like this?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:23:05]Yeah, so it's a good question. And. Just like all exercise in general. It's,it's very athlete dependent. Um, wehave our principles of, of training and we have our principles of, you know,the rates of adaptation and that in that time course micro measle macrocyclesright.

Um, at the sametime, it is going to be athlete dependent. However, I have seen a lot ofsuccess with athletes using this as a warmup routine. And, you know, again, alittle bit, this hasn't really been looked at literature at quite as much, butwhat we have noticed is, um, just alittle bit more appropriate section after you do a warmup routine with thebands, there's something about that.

Getting blood flow into areas that take a little bit moretime to actually get perfused with that blood. Um,I think part of it has to do with. Reaching an optimal muscletemperature, a muscle will contract optimally when it's, when it's heated up.Literally warming up is, is, is a thing in exercise, physiology world.

And doing that with BFR gets you there a little bit quicker.When you have blood flow going into an area, it's the best way to heat up amuscle. And so it kinda that, that resistance or that restriction forces bloodinto areas where it would otherwise take more time to actually, um, get into. Um,and part of that reason is, is, uh,uh, a balance between your vasodilating and vasoconstrictingcapacity and the muscle, um, and itsability to kind of, um, uh, dilateand actually get blood flow into, into muscle fibers themselves.

Um, so that's kindof the pre, uh, Oh, good way to talkabout the post is again, coming back to that idea of kind of reaching youranaerobic, uh, or your anabolicsealing further. Um, so if, again, ifyou were to use this after a day of moderate intensity exercise, um, you kind of maintain the, you know, theactual cost of that, of that exercise is.

You know, it's slightly catabolic versus one. That's veryintense where you're going more catabolic. You have to dip down further intoyour stores to then build up what BFR does is on those small days, you have asmaller, smaller catabolic response, but then you have just as much of ananabolic response over time, chronically that can lead to augmentations inperformance and muscle definition and, um, andcomposition as well.

Boomer Anderson: [00:25:08]Based on what you said, does that mean, like, let's say I'm training for abodybuilding competition, which I'm not, but let's say you are, would it bebetter than to have it post just to basically maximize your anabolic responsein every workout?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:25:23]Yes. I think me for bodybuilders where the goal is to build as much muscle asfast as possible.

I think that's probably the best way to do it. Go throughyour normal workout. Um, With theidea of inducing hypertrophy, getting a nice pump from that workout. Um, and then, and then really polishing itoff. We call it, topping it off with a VFR workout where you're going to geteven more of a pump. You're going to get more cell swelling.

You're going to, you're going to stimulate M Tor and muscleprotein synthesis even more so, um, thanyou otherwise would. Um, again, youknow, talk about diminishing returns when you get to the upper echelons of, ofthat maximal ceiling of an anabolic response, how much more is going to giveyou? That's that's really the question.

Um, that's, that'skind of what each athlete and each training needs to ask themselves. Um, So if you're already kind of doing that,you know, maybe that it's BFR can provide that extra one or 2%, which ends upbeing the deciding difference between high level athletes and high levelbodybuilders.

Boomer Anderson: [00:26:17]Yeah. Mr.

Olympia in second place. Right.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:26:20]Exactly. And I, you know, although I'm not saying that that's going to be thekey difference, it's one of the many aggregate gains that you can, um, that you can add to your training. So it'shelped get you there.

Boomer Anderson: [00:26:30]You mentioned M tour and that's a fairly trendy were pastor.

Yeah. The longevity world. Is there any concern with thisthat when you're looking at older people, um, Iguess, uh, on the one hand you'rebalancing this delicate you're on this delicate balancing act between, uh, avoiding sarcopenia and over activatingthem tour. Is it a concern that you could over activate them tour if you dothis too much?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:26:58]So, and I, I see where you're going with that because over activating and canlead to cancer, right? Yeah. Cancer cells. So the thing with exercise, that'sreally interesting. It's, it's a major regulatory, um,stimulus for the body. Uh, andso thinking about M tour, that way, it it's, it's a little bit different, um, with exercise and again, I'm a little bitspeaking off the copier.

Um, cancer's notmy expertise, so I, I wanna kind of. Iterate that before I go on. Um, but having said that normally we think of,um, oxidative stress, uh, you know, super oxides, also stimulatingmTOR, um, because basically I'mtowards a response to, uh, juststress. And one of those stresses is oxidative. Um,so that can come from food.

It can come from environmental factors. Exercise is a veryacute, um, flood of basicallyoxidative stress, but. In, in, um, certainwithin, within certain limits, right? It would be it's bad for you to beexercising 24 hours a day. It would not be good for any part of your system,but really short bouts of exercise can be really positive for, um, adapting the body.

And so. MTOR with regards to cancer is a little bitdifferent of a mechanism than a mTOR being activated by exercise per se. Sothat was kind of a long winded answer to answer your question, but yeah,

Boomer Anderson: [00:28:16]it was very helpful cause it was just like something that came top of mind. I'mlike, well I'm tour.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:28:21]Okay.

Yeah. And so really, so can lead to cell proof with group liberation. Um, but exercise itself is a great regulator of, of allcells and so, okay. So you can have that self-reflect proliferation rather. Um, but you can also have exercise inducingapoptosis, which is essentially trying to, uh, getrid of damaged or uncontrolled celebrate.

Boomer Anderson: [00:28:44]Um, what about it allows you and Iguess maybe I should clarify this before I go ahead and make this statement,but can you train with this seven days a week or do I need to take a break?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:28:53]So, yeah, I would say it depends for you, someone who trains pretty regularly. Uh, you can get away with training seven daysa week, and theoretically there's nothing stopping anybody from training that,that frequently, um, again, gettingback to the idea of a minimal effective dose.

Do I think it's required to train seven days a week.Probably not. But the nice thing is, is, is you can, uh, so, and those days might look different. It might, youmight, I have a little bit more intense session, three days out of that atseven I'm in a little bit lighter stuff, on four of those seven days. Uh, butyes, you can do this every day.

There won't be any negative consequences associated with it.I will say when starting out, it's kind of a better idea to limit it to threeto four times a week. Your body kind of, it's a big stimulate. It's a bigstress. So yeah. Um, it, it's betteranytime you're introducing any new training system or, or methodology, you justwant to gradually go into it.

You don't want to jump in headfirst. Uh, so, so that's kind of the caution I would,I would kind of give out, but yes, uh, becausewe're not inducing a whole lot of muscle damage. We can up the frequency oftraining by a lot.

Boomer Anderson: [00:29:57]Do you have in that elite athlete level, do you have people that use this everysingle day of the week or that actually work out every single day of the weekor because recovery is so important to this so important, sometimes recoveryequals the stimulus, right.

And so when you have an elite level athlete, are they usingthis once, twice a day, seven days a week, or is it just more looking at like,how much is this person sleeping?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:30:23]Uh, so again, with anything else,it's going to be a little bit dependent. Right. Um,but those will be level athletes on their training phase, whateverphase they're in, um, of the year,they can use the seven days a week, one to two times per day.

Um, and actuallyjust as a way for me to stay in shape and stay healthy. I use this every day aswell. And I have, I've used this every day for the past, probably two and ahalf years. Um, probably more liketwo years. Um, and again, so notevery day looks the same. It's not like I'm. Maximally exerting myself everytime I put the bands on, but even a little bit of stimulation of growth hormoneand that, that kind of thing will help just me feel better throughout the week.

Um, the otherthing that people tend to notice when they start using BFR is they sleep a lotbetter. Yeah. And so for people who have trouble sleeping this, even just doinga light intensity workout with fr can help them fall asleep. And part of thathas to do with growth hormone. Part of that has to do with just the regulatoryelement of exercise itself, um, stimulatingenergy and kind of having that kind of up and down effect of the, of thenervous system as well.

Boomer Anderson: [00:31:23]Fascinating. And if, if there hasn't been a study on that, I would love toparticipate in that. Cause that would be, yeah. Fantastic thing to run. Um,

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:31:33]we, yeah, exactly. I think there needs to be way more research on how thisaffects sleep, because especially for athletes, um,what we've noticed, uh, youknow, and for us, it's kind of interesting that the scientific world, a lot ofthe time, the researchers already know whether or not something works and it'sjust a matter of creating a study in order to actually get at that answer.

Um, and see if itactually does work on paper.

Boomer Anderson: [00:31:55]Yeah. I've had a few strength training coaches on the podcast before, and theyalways like to comment that science catches up with strength training. I'm notsure if that's actually true, uh, butit's kind of it who knows.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:32:08]Right. Well, so that's actually a good conversation to have just real brieflybecause you know, that that is somewhat true.

Uh, A lot ofstrength, coaches, a lot of just coaches in general, right? Whether it'srunning triathlons, things like that, we'll implement things that they knowwork and have worked over the course of their careers in history. And. Whatends up happening is we as researchers then take that and say, okay, this seemsto work for them.

Let's see if it works in the lab in a very controlledsetting. And sometimes it does. And sometimes it doesn't. Um, the other thing to consider is forsomething to significantly be affected, it has to have a substantial increase.And for athletes, one to 2% increases are substantial. Uh, but they may not be statistically significantwhen we're looking at in a lab.

Um, and so. Sportstend to be kind of on the cutting edge of whatever methodology is being put outthere. Um, and it could be 15 yearsahead of the research of the science. Um, textbooksare usually about a decade behind where the clinic, where the research is. Andso if you're ever reading a textbook, they're great.

And you should realize that there was a lot of work thatwent into all of that text. Um, butat the same time, they're going to be. They're great for kind of getting afoundational understanding of the physiology or of that science, but they'renot on the forefront of that research. Then we have. And then we have, uh, uh, uh, not analysis, which are anywherefrom six to eight years behind the current research.

And then we have the current literature, uh, recently published studies, which areanywhere from two to three years behind where the cutting edge is. Then you getto the conferences and that's when ideas are shared. So like, uh, HPSM every year, uh, you get to meet with other researchers andyou get to talk about what they're doing in their lab and it can help inspireand kind of.

Dear people on or off course. Um,and then you have kind of the sports world right there, which is onthe cutting edge and looking at this in real time.

Boomer Anderson: [00:33:54]And that's just because people are really pushing the bounds and willing to doalmost everything in order to take it to that next level. Is that right?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:34:02]Exactly. Yeah. I mean, performance is, is the goal and, and winning is thegoal. So when you have that huge incentive, people are going to be looking at.

Boomer Anderson: [00:34:12]the other side of minimum effective dose training is maximum recovery. And sohow do I ensure maximum recovery? Well, for me, a lot of that comes throughphoto biomodulation. There are numerous devices that I have in my little homegrown lab here, but my go-to for now over a year has been Vielight neuro alpha.

It helps me sleep. It helps me meditate better. And it helpsme relax, which if you know me, that is something that I've come a long way on.If you want to try yours head on over to That's V I E L I G and use the code boomer on any one of their devices and they will giveyou 10% off.

Let's get back to my conversation with Sten stray.

The idea of low weight, high reps is something that candidlyI've struggled with. And, uh, it justsort of seems counterintuitive to me. Yeah. Let's start with, uh, the idea of, can I use blood flowrestriction training in. Uh, kind ofmax max out workouts. Like, could you, in theory do that and maybe as acorollary of that question, why is high reps low weights better?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:35:41]Sure. Um, So it depends. So what thegoal is for that training, what we, what we define as an effective trainingsession, because on one day it could be, I just want to feel a little bitbetter. I want to feel like poppy and springy and ready to explode on otherdays. It's like, I just want to be crushed by this workout.

Um, and so, sothat kind of plays a part, but put simply. When we do low weight and high reps,we're getting at gradually recruiting those muscle fibers. Like I kind oftalked about at the very beginning of this. So we're, we're really using ourlight intensity or our type one fibers to do the aerobic work rather.

And then more aerobic work as we go down the line of musclefibers. The reason why we want to use lightweights with the BFR is we're ableto actually induce that. If we were to do lightweights without BFR, it wouldtake so many more reps to get the adaptations that we're looking for, that itjust it's impractical.

And it's much easier to lift up something heavy, immediatelyrecruit all of your muscle fibers and put it back down. Right. Um, the reason why we wouldn't necessarilywant to do it with the bands is it kind of gets away from that the benefit ofusing the bands. So whenever we have a high intensity or heavy load day, Youtend to be pretty sore from that.

And the reason why you're sore is the actual muscle fiberdamage. So, you know, you have these micro tears, you have some leakage ofpotassium and calcium, which CRE and another oxide that create an inflammatoryresponse. And really it's that inflammatory response, not lactic acid thatcauses muscle soreness, right.

And with BFR, especially when you start getting used to it,you don't have that muscle damage because we're using lightweights. And so itjust allows you to increase the frequency of training because you're notcausing that damage. And so coming back to that kind of, that chart, where wehave this catabolic cost to the training and then an anabolic response, we arenow just dipping in slightly and still maintaining that anabolic response.

So that's, that's kind of the emphasis of why we wouldn'twant to lift heavy with the bands. Um, Iwould say that be strong is probably one of the very few bands that you canlift heavy with. Um, because we'renot a occluding arterial flow in flow to the muscles. Let's,

Boomer Anderson: [00:37:49]let's talk about occluding. Cause I think this is a point where we haven'tdelved too much into it because it is a danger.

Do you mind explaining what that exactly means and what canhappen if you actually do a clue?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:38:05]Yeah. So essentially what, what we mean by, uh, byocclusion training is, um, you havetwo sources that are two forms of blood, or I should say, um, it's all, it's all the same blood, butit's going through two different, uh, we'llsay

Boomer Anderson: [00:38:16]two and some people it's not the same blood, but

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:38:21]right.

So you have your venous blood flow and you have yourarterial blood flow, right? You're oxygenated is arterial or deoxygenateddesaturated is your Venus. Um, andyou have the arterial flow coming from the heart, going into the muscle itself.Yeah, the venous flow coming out of the capillaries that are better in themuscle itself.

And they're there. They actually have these one way valvesthat we can talk about in a sec, and they're going to take the de saturatedblood. And that has toxins in it as well from, from the muscle contraction. Andthey're going to take it back to the heart, um, goingthrough the lungs and then back out through the arteries.

When we talk about blood flow restriction. At least as itwas described originally in Japan. And what breed based on uses is venousocclusion. So we're restricting the blood flow out and that's causing adisruption of the blood of the normal blood flow circulation in general, whenwe place. And occlusion pressure on the arterial side.

And let me back up a little bit, the reason why we're ableto do that and not affect the arterial side is because the artery is have afifth, uh, layer of smooth musclethat kind of protects them, causes vasoconstriction, causes vasodilation inorder to kind of control blood pressure. That's the main way that we are ableto control blood pressure and, and they have a little bit of that, but it'smuch, much less.

You can look on yourself, you can come collapse orsuperficial veins very easily. And so with a relatively low pressure, we justocclude the venous side of things while maintaining arterial flow. So bloodpressure, cuffs, rigid system, it's harder to do that. And so you end up. Uh, the way that it's kind of been used inpractice as they go up to an arterial occlusion pressure, and then they backoff from there anywhere from 40% of that occlusion pressure to 90% of thatequation pressure.

Um, and that isfine and safe and effective as long as you're being supervised. And you're kindof, your blood pressure is being monitored and you're in a clinical setting. Um, it becomes an issue and perhaps dangerouswhen you're not in that clinical setting or not being supervised and you're onyour own doing your own workouts.

Um, and, andagain, you know, I don't want to just, we have people from using those becauseI think they're very, they can be very effective and especially for youngerpopulations, like. Completely safe. Um, however,for older populations, and if that's especially people who aren't used to, ordon't really understand, uh, cardiovascularphysiology or, uh, people who arejust kind of trying to use this as a way to just increase their fitness, um, I would proceed to those with a little bitof caution.

Um, and the reasonfor that is, and w you know, w we can kind of, um,stipulate on this, but, uh, it'snot really well charted out. Really what's happening when you restrict your,your, um, arterial side is you're nowmessing with the flow into the muscle and you can make that muscle ischemic. Sothere's no more blood going in that muscle.

And while you're contracting on an ischemic muscle, that cancause really, really bad damage. And so something that can happen with that issomething called rhabdomyolysis, which is actually,

Boomer Anderson: [00:41:08]I'm familiar with that.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:41:10]You already have, you had it

Boomer Anderson: [00:41:12]minor, minor forms, not to the point where I had to go to the hospital oranything.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:41:16]Right. So, so that, that can happen with. When you are occlude the arterialside, because you're literally making them off of ischemic, low, low blood flowand low oxygen, and you're getting in trouble and you can start creating evenmore damage. I don't think that also happens. So I think, you know, think aboutwomen, heart attack occurs.

Yes. The aschemia that you're creating in the cardiac tissuein the mind, in the myocyte or a cardiomyocyte rather, um, That ischemia is not necessarily what doesthe most damage to the heart? When you have a heart attack, it's actually thereprofusion of blood flow. As you release, as they clear out that blockage youall, all of a sudden you get this rush of super oxides and oxidative stressthat causes inflammation and damage.

Um, so one of thethings that can happen when you include your art. Arteries Indian blood flowrestriction is actually that reprofusion now because that muscle was superischemic. It's created all these ox, super oxides within that. And then you geta rush of even more oxides into that area. And that's when you create kind of apositive feedback loop of, of damage to them vessel or that vessel and themuscle.

And so we try to avoid that by using, using a system thatpurely tries to attack or kind of limit the venous outflow. Okay. And before wemove on, one thing I wanted to kind of clarify is the reason why we're able toinclude the venous side and not the arterial side is through something calledthese, these one way valves in the veins themselves.

And so as we have this thing called the skeletal musclepump. So as, as we're sitting there not doing anything, blood flow is, is notgetting past that Venus blockade, not getting past the dam. That's affectinghow much blood is coming in from the arterial side, by the way. So once you hita kind of a threshold where those, those two pressures are equal, you'll starthaving some venous flow going, going across that band, but you're also slowingdown the arterial flow without actually contracting the vessel itself.

You are still getting a little bit of arterial restriction,but it's because of the dam is being backed up. Not because you're compressingthat, that artery itself. Um, and soeach time you actually can tract. Your muscles contract and forced blood, youknow, all of a sudden your, your pressure here is increased.

And all that blood has to go is one way because of these oneway valves and that forces the blood. Yeah. Half the bucket. So if you're, ifyou're at home and you're thinking about this, um,you may, you may experience that you, your, your blood pressurefeels better in your arms when you're actually doing, doing the exercise,rather than just sitting there.

Sometimes when you're just sitting there, you're like, Oh myGod, my arms are about to explode. And then you start doing the exercises andthat feeling goes away. What's happening is your muscles are actually forcingthat blood past the band, um, intermittently.So you're still getting a restriction of blood flow, but you're able to getthat out intermittently, um, and, andin a safe way.


Boomer Anderson: [00:44:00]Okay.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:44:01]Pretty cool.

Boomer Anderson: [00:44:03]Aside from giving everybody else a moment to digest that. Like I, I need toadjust that a little bit. Let's let's take it over into like the practical sideof things, because we have a lot of people here, not practical, that's thewrong word, but like the, um, how wewould use this in everyday life.

And we have a lot of people here, uh, using this. Or they just don't have that much time. Right.As I've mentioned to you before kind of two populations, you have the actualpeople who are trying to be superhuman. And then the people who are like, okay,what the minimum effective dose, what does a workout look like for this?

Uh, for people whoare in that minimum effective dose camp? Because you and I both, uh, we were chatting earlier about timeconstraint, right? And how times, like, Hey, you may only have 20 minutes in aday or less. What does a workout look like would be strong.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:44:57]Yeah. So the way, the way I think about my non-negotiable for the day, right?

My nonnegotiable workout. If I'm super busy, you always havefive minutes, right? Yep. And so what I, what I typically do is a littlecircuit, um, I'll put on all fourbands. Um, I'll do, I'll do a maximumof Philips maximum number pushups, max, number of air squats. Then I'll dothat. I'll I'll cycle through that three times.

And about five to seven minutes, I am completely toast. Um, but have gotten my workout in for the day.Um, so that's kinda how I use it.It's almost like a Tabata type, um, sessionwhere it's really high intensity, but body weight. So your actual loads arestill pretty low. Um, and, and thatway you're, you're able to, to boost.

A huge amount of growth hormone. You're able to get thatanabolic response in a really short period of time. Um,I don't want to fool anybody out there. It is still a very hardworkout in that seven minutes, but you're you're and, and the other thingyou're doing when you do that is you're stimulating a massive epoch.

So something we excess post exercise, oxygen consumption,right? So to replenish that huge oxygen debt that you've just created in yourmuscles, you invent burn more calories. After the workout's done. So just whileyou're sitting here working, you're actually burned. Your resting metabolicrate is higher and you're burning more calories, just sitting there to replaceall of the energy that you just used up.

And how

Boomer Anderson: [00:46:11]long, how long has that window of epoch afterwards?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:46:14]Uh, so this is, this is something,again, we need to look more into. Um, butyou know, after a given exercise session, it can last up to 24 hours. Um, I wouldn't, I wouldn't say that that'swhat's happened, happens every time. Um, butyou do, uh, you know, and especially,you know, we have acute responses to this and we have chronic responses tothis.

And so if you're using this every day, you're kind of.Always stimulating that response, getting that out there, um, and getting the maximum adaptations thatyou can, um, versus an acuteresponse, which, you know, can last from five hours to 24 hours, depending onthe intensity of the training.

Boomer Anderson: [00:46:48]Okay. And I did cut you off there in terms of just

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:46:50]talking.

Okay. Yeah, we're

Boomer Anderson: [00:46:53]good. Yeah. So when we're talking minimum effective dose. Okay. That, that wasfive to seven minutes. Right. But if somebody were to take this and run thispretty much every day and say, this is my exercise, um,what kind of training splits would you look for? I look at, forsomebody who's more than an executive role, is it okay or lower?

Is it full body? Every seven, all seven days. How would, howwould you want to split that up?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:47:19]Yeah, that's a good question. So the way, the way I would, I would say it is, um, start out gradually. So if you're justgetting this equipment, um, maybestay three days a week, start titrating in one more day, one more session aday.

Um, kind of overthe course of two to three weeks. Once you've gotten pretty. Used to thisstuff. That's when I would put on all four bands. So again, um, maximal efficiency, uh, use of time, um,to invoke the most maximal adaptation, um,put on all four bands, the more muscle mass that you're actuallyare, is actually restricted is.

Likely going to yield a higher, um,additive adaptive response. Um, andso I recommend putting it on yeah. Or bands I'm doing a series of core basedexercises. Um, so those core basebase exercises can be push-ups. They can be pull-ups they can be even squatswhile you're actually engaging your core or have a weight, uh, you know, a 30 pound weight in your hands.

Um, That is what Iwould say would be most effective for someone in, in kind of an executiveposition. Um, the other thing that I,that I've found, and just before this, this podcast, I just did a very quick, uh, two and a half to three minutes, um, in squat session, just to kind of feel,get a little endorphin rush, um, feelready and focus for this interview.

Um, and so I wouldrecommend for those executives right before a meeting to do this, uh, put the bands on. You know, again, thegoal is not to get a huge amount of fatigue. It doesn't want to make, you don'twant to make you hypotensive or hypoglycemic. Cause it was such a hard workout,but you just kind of turning everything on and making you a little bit more, um, sharp and, and, uh, able to articulate what you want to in a presentationor meeting.

Boomer Anderson: [00:48:52]And okay. Now I want to transfer over into some of the more annoying questionsthat I asked you before four, we actually have hit record, uh, more in terms of if we're going to try andpush that superhuman limit in terms of, you know, both, uh, cognitive capacity, but also physicalcapacity stacking workouts.

And using this device, we've touched on some of this alreadyin terms of the before and after, but. Okay. The element of cardiovascularexercise that you did mention that people do use this downhill skiing, but howwould you sequence, for instance, a cardiovascular exercise may be just forexample, like a, uh, a longer runwith a be strong training session.

Should it be before or after? Um,and maybe you can throw out some variables in terms of things peopleshould, should consider.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:49:44]Yeah. So I think in order to kind of answer that, I need to provide a littlebit of context. So most people think of training as like, okay. Hard work inresults out. But really what is the goal of that exercise session?

What is the goal of your training program in general? Is itto build power? Is it to strength? Is it to get bigger and develop morehypertrophy? So these are all quite, is it too, I'm getting a little bitbetter. Is it it's an increase, your VO two max. So to, so each, eachcomponent, each phase of training, each focus of the training is going to isgoing to elicit or necessitate a little bit different application of VFR, um, to go to your cardiovascular question.

Um, what I woulddo. So there's, there's various goals of different types of trainings. Sogenerally speaking, the longer runs are really to develop the structure of themuscle and the tendons in the, in the lens, in order to be able to handle thevolume of training that is normally associated with running.

Um, people tend tothink of like, of running a line running along slow distance as, okay. I'm tappinginto fat burning, right. If they keep their heart rate within a certain range,that's their fat burning, um, range. Um, and so for that, it's a little bitdifferent for, for elite runners and competitive runners.

The reason why they would do long slow distance is really todevelop that muscular structure and coinciding with attendance. Um, The way that, um,they induce metabolic stress, which is really what you're getting atwith BFR. You're, you're really enhanced their increasing intensity ofmetabolic stress. Um, that's sort ofsaved for more interval training based days or, or even, um, Uh, you know, fartlek, so, uh, longer speed intervals, uh, or versus shorter speed intervals.

And, um, that's,that's where BFR can kind of augment, um, thoseadaptations. So I would say if you're going on a long run, do that long run,maybe cut, cut it at about 75%. So if you're on a 10 mile run, stop at sevenand a half miles, put the bands on for that last two and a half. Um, so that's going to do a couple things.

You're going to get all the applications that you did fromthat long run, but then you're also going to induce a little bit more metabolicstress than you otherwise would by putting the bands on, um, I wouldn't recommend, and I've done this,so I know I wouldn't recommend putting them on and running 10 miles.

Um, Partlybecause, uh, you're, you're probablynot getting too much more bang for your buck if you're doing that, versus justkind of saving it for the last two and a half miles with that 10 mile run. Um, and the other thing is you can actuallyget pretty sore with that. Yeah. Um, andthe reason that is it's a, it's a relatively ecentric motion running, right.

So you're, you're lengthening the muscle as it's contractingand that can create terrace more easily. Um, andso when you have a pressurized system, while you're doing that, those microterrorists. Attempt to make it a little bit worse. Um,so, so kind of keep that in mind when you're, when you're doinglaundry.

Boomer Anderson: [00:52:23]Would that be the same as sprinting? Because like you probably, should you wearthis with sprinting, I guess is the question

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:52:30]again, kind of that's the other end of the spectrum. And what I tell people isI would perform all your explosive movements, uh,without the bands at high, as high velocity as you possibly can.

And then if you want use the bands to get if a cheek signalto augment what you just did. Um, butI, but there's not a, in my mind, there's not a huge benefit to using the bandswhile doing maximal sprint training. Now, having said that if you're at like75% or 70% or 60% of your max speed, that's where I think you can actually, um, make your muscles think that you're atmaximum speed and you're can do some of those adaptations without incurring alot of stress in high intensity on your actual system.

So coming back to the idea of lighter weights, higher reps, um, In the form of, of running, you know,sprinting versus versus not sprinting.

Boomer Anderson: [00:53:18]Yeah. Just as an aside, I have a bike back there, which does take you tomaximum levels when it comes to bike sprints. And I did put the be strong bandson, and this was nobody's suggestion, but my own and try to max out on thosesprints and wow.

The next day was, uh, Yeah,the fun experience. It was just like, wow, I need a Walker kind of thing.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:53:39]Yeah, exactly. And, and again, you know, there's, there's nothing wrong withthat, but again, you always have to come back to what is the goal and focus ofyour training, um, and, and that kindof thing. And, and Hey, if you want to, if the goal of your training is to feellike a bag of sand after it.

Cause I know guys who are like that, I just want to feelsomething, um, that's a good way todo it. And, and I don't know if I want to ask you a little bit about thattraining session because. Um, did younotice that you were, you got to take faster or that, that fatigue was just

Boomer Anderson: [00:54:04]more intense? Um, both in the sensethat if you look at it, because the device, which is behind me actually mapsout your fatigue.

And so you can see, like the max point I hit was actuallylower than what my typical one

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:54:18]in terms of wattage. Yeah.

Boomer Anderson: [00:54:21]And then the fatigue towards the end of the 22nd sprint was significantlyhigher. Then what it typically would be. And so, uh,And I assume that all just has to do with the blood flowrestriction.

Right. And

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:54:35]exactly. Yeah. And that's actually, so you bring up a really good point. Yourwattage is an assessment of your power, right? And you weren't able to get tothe same waters with when you did without the bands. So that's kind of what I'mgetting at. When I say it's kind of save the bands for, after you do yourmaximum power output, because you still want your, you want your body to beused to stimulate or, um, being ableto generate that much power.

Um, but you alsocan use the bands to kind of augment that whatever process you're doing. Um, uh, and that's why, so, so there's kind ofa titration process with how you think about how to titrate these strong or BFRinto your workouts. Um, and so one ofthe things that we think about with power training is you want to elicit thatmax power.

Um, but you don'twant to, you want to minimize that cost associated with it. So as soon as thatpower starts coming down, Uh, youwant to throw the band on because you've done, you've done the power work. Nowyou're trying to get the muscle to fatigue in a lifted, maximal anabolicresponse.

Boomer Anderson: [00:55:28]I love the analogy that you've come back to again and again, with thatcatabolic cost in the anabolic response, because it isn't an asymmetriccatabolic cost versus a anabolic response.

And that's the beautiful way of putting it, uh, coming back.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:55:43]So just to elaborate a little bit on that, that's, that's generally how we tryto think about. Um, a training statefor a given athlete. If they're constantly being broken down, broken down,broken down, it's really hard for them to bounce back up.

Yeah. Um, and so,especially at the elite level, that's as coaches, that's what we try to try to.Uh, titrate in and balance thisprocess and, and VFR allows us to kind of, it's almost like a little cheat fora hack for coaches, because it allows us to have that anabolic response withoutas much cost. And that's really the fundamental balance.

You know, it's going to be different when you're workingwith a youth athlete, who's still developing versus an athlete that they're atthe top of their game. It's really just a matter of balancing that, those twoprocesses.

Boomer Anderson: [00:56:23]I love it. And I could throw it in my luggage, which is just fantastic.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:56:27]Exactly.

Boomer Anderson: [00:56:29]Coming back to just BFR in general. So blood flow restriction has been aroundfor how many years now.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:56:35]So the guy, uh, dr. Sato, who firstcame up with it, uh, wasexperimenting with these, uh, about50 years ago. Um,

Boomer Anderson: [00:56:42]why has it taken so long to become, um, it'snot even mainstream now, but like why is it taking so long to get to thispoint?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [00:56:51]Yeah, it's a good question. It's something I kind of asked myself a lot. Um, so. First of all, it was originallydeveloped in Japan. And honestly it is quite widespread. They're using it. Alot of hospitals, a lot of professional athletes are using it. They even havebeauty shops where, um, you know,older, older women can go in and yeah.

And kind of just talk and, and, and, and do lightweightexercise. And they think it's invigorating and things like that. So it's prettywidespread there. Um, What ended up,ended up happening with a BFR, which of the States is there's a little bit oflost in translation. Yeah. Uh, whereat first kind of started developing is, um, bodybuildersstarted seeing, um, people using katsuin, in preparation for shows and, you know, European bodybuilders would kind ofgo up to them and be like, so what's this all about?

And, and some of the Japanese bodybuilders didn't wanna giveit up. Like, I don't understand you, you know, it's okay. Like I can't, I can'tconverse. And so they really wanted to kind of keep it secretive forthemselves. Cause they thought it was such a cool bio-hack. Um, and so the European bodybuilders juststarted wrapping targets around their arms, um, anddoing it that way.

So th so actually in the bodybuilding world, I'm sure peopleare like, kind of laughing right now because they're like, Oh yeah, we've beendoing that, you know, 30 years ago. Um, andso. So it kind of went from that to then started being incorporated into theresearch. As more studies are coming out of Japan and the things that wereavailable to those researchers were things like blood pressure cuffs, which,you know, wide rigid systems that don't allow for that skeletal muscle pump toreally push that push the Venus path.

The Venus vaccae that we were talking about earlier, um, and. Also years before this back to 19,thirties and forties, they had, um, experimentswhere they would do, uh, post-exerciseaschemia limit, limit schema, where they would exercise. They were trying tobasically try to identify, um, uh, somethingcalled the mechano and Metabo reflex for exercise pressor reflex, um, which is, uh,through a ferret neurons.

You get feedback through your central nervous system. Um, they get integrated and you have anincrease in sympathetic output too. Basically optimally deliver blood flow. Um, that's kind of where it went to. That'skind of where people's minds just went to. Is this a clues occlusion, uh, post aschemia experiments.

Um, and so that'swhat people started doing. And then, uh, itkind of picked up speed when it was used on veterans, where they were going upto an occlusion pressure and backing off, but it's in that process, it kind ofthe traditional techniques and protocols kind of got lost in the, in, in thatpath. Um, and so the original katsu.

Is really getting at, um, Venusocclusion, not arterial quizzing specifically, um,in order to elicit, uh, thatfatigue state. Whereas now the literature has kind of gone to, okay. Let's useblood pressure cuffs to very accurately assess blood pressure, um, at these, during. You know, differentpositions in order to restrict arterial flow, going into the muscle.

There's a, been a little bit of a disconnect in that, inthat whole kind of journey of coming to the United States. Um, why, if not getting, not as much traction,um, I think it's just a matter oftime. I think people still, um, youknow, this as much as anybody coaches really like to, uh, depend on, on what coaches in the pasthave done.

And so they they're very averse to. I'm going after newtechniques. And, and I would say like, again, the, the kind of a younger generationof coaches is picking up on this. And I think, um,I certainly in the circles that I'm in, um,everybody BFR is kind of exploding in popularity. Um, so I think it's just really a matter oftime before it really starts picking up into the mainstream.

Um, but I thinkthat that kind of story of how it came over gradually, it definitely plays apart in, in why it's not really literally exploding right now.

Boomer Anderson: [01:00:23]And in terms of the be strong device itself, when you look at the, theinnovations that were made around it, that prevent the occlusion and some ofthe other, is it specifically the air tube or is it something because you seethe bodybuilders that just basically take a bandana or something and tie it astight as they possibly can.

Uh, theinnovations that you guys made on the device in order to just make it that muchbetter. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:00:50]Yeah. So. So we'll say the device was really designed with the original costume,um, protocol in mind. So reallytrying to stay away from any arterial occlusion while maintaining or whilemaintaining Venus, uh, restriction orocclusion.

Um, when you, whenyou tie a bandana or like a real Lastic band around your arm, you can have an effectiveBFR session. The problem is. You don't know how that's changing day to day.There's no, there's no pneumatic actual pump. That is, that is telling you whatyour pressure is for that day. You're really going off subjective feeling.

Um, and on top ofthat, there's going to be areas where the band is tighter and looser. Um, it can pinch nerves and, and, and arteriesand things like that. And it can be dangerous, but I will say. If you've hadexperience with this and bodybuilders out there who are doing this, um, while I don't know, I certainly recommendit.

It can't be accepted, so I don't want to take that away. Um, But what really makes B strong stand outis, uh, is this barrel system. Um, and with Kaatsu you actually have, theband itself is elastic. Um, it's,it's kind of an elastic material, whereas, uh, whenwe, when we don't have any air inflated in the band here, it's, it's notelastic.

Right. As soon as we inflate air, if I can find it, I mean,what's that?

Boomer Anderson: [01:02:06]Yeah.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:02:16]So it seems we inflate the air. These barrels will start to inflate. Okay. So acouple of things are happening. First of all. Think about this on your, on yourarm. These bands are now kind of pressing into your tissue because due to fluiddynamics, your, your blood is going to be eventually going to be able to pushdown on this air in order to get past it.

So a couple of things happen, you get that constriction andkind of compression of a tissue, but then all of a sudden this becomes anelastic band. And I heard people who can't really see this, um, to, to try this on their own. You actuallyhave plasticity in the band now. Um, andthat's, that's kind of what separates, um, viewsof bandanas or blood pressure cuffs from, from this design, because we're ableto have a semi semi elastic non elastic band that provides enough restrictionto re restrict the venous side, but stays away from arterial occlusion.

Boomer Anderson: [01:03:11]Where do you think blood flow restriction training is going in the future? Andif you're able to hint on what you guys have going on, sort of the researchdevelopment side, I'm sure. The listener base.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:03:23]Yeah. So I'm kind of two parts to that. Um, Ithink, uh, at least in the circlesthat I've, that I've seen here in Austin and some, some of the performancecenters and, and certainly in the PT realm, uh, VFRis, is almost at this point standard procedure.

Um, So I, I think,you know, in the next five years, this is going to be, uh, must have for every gym and every PTclinic out there. Uh, just, just tobe able to keep up with other PT clinics and gyms that do have it. Um, I think the real expertise is going to behow to actually implement that because there's a, 1,000,001 ways to actually dothat.

Um, so that'sgoing to be kind of the limiting factor, I think, um,But, yeah, so I, I, I'm very optimistic about the, uh, future of VFR, um,whether that's be strong or other products in general, um, as a way to really help, uh, the population get fitter and stronger. Um, you know, another, another applicationthat's kind of gets into the research that, uh, thatI'm going to do.

But another application is for clinical population. Sopeople with type two diabetes, um, Peoplewho are aging, uh, even people whohave musculoskeletal or neurological diseases, such as, you know, ms. Uh, this is a great way for them. Normallythey can't really do exercise period, or it's very, very hard for them.

So this is a great way for them to be able to get moving andactually, maybe start that process of rehabilitation or rehabilitation. Um, so one of the studies that we did, uh, at UT was, and this is unpublished. So, um, I can't speak too many details about it. Um, but we were pre having cancer patients forsurgery.

Okay. Um, there's,there's a very strong correlation between muscle lean, body mass and rates of, um, uh, or lower rates of mortality post-opfor cancer patients. And so our goal was to build up these cancer patients, getthem some good lean body mass in order to be able to handle the surgery better.Um, and so that was, that was oneapplication they couldn't have done.

They couldn't have increased their lean body mass, um, really with a normal training sessiontraining program. Um, mainly becauseit would just be so taxing and, you know, they can't lift heavy weights, so itwould be with my weights anyway. So we were thinking of a way to, uh, induce a similar response usinglightweights they can handle, um, ina more efficient and effective way.

Um, some otherstudies that we're doing, I've mainly looked at the safety aspects of, uh, and really the human dynamic or your bloodpressure responses during a BFR session. Um, Andin my study, we were looking at really different between, I mean, wide rigidcuts and narrow elastic cuss for the wide rigid.

We used a cough called the Hokinson cuff, which are pretty, uh, uh, normally found in, in labenvironments. It's essentially a blood pressure cuff, um, rapid inflation, so you can have reallyprecise control. And then we use be strong as kind of a narrow elastic, um, component. Um,To compare it against and I'm getting the same walking.

Actually the, the wide rigid cuff was actually, yeah, 160millimeters of mercury. The be strong bands were pumped up to 300 millimetersof mercury, even. So with that large difference, uh,we saw major increases in blood pressure when using it the widerange of tests and. You know, while that may not seem like a huge finding,pretty, pretty obvious.

Um, it does haveimplications for use of VFR in clinical populations or an unsupervisedsettings. Right? So again, that's what I said earlier. I think that, um, wide rigid blood flow restriction, youknow, occlusion training that comes up can be effective where we're stillgetting at the. The, the idea of tricking the body into thinking it's doinghigh intensity high blood work.

Um, but it needsto be monitored very carefully in order to make sure you're not going to causeany adverse reaction.

Boomer Anderson: [01:06:44]So if you're a person who's already predisposed to high blood pressure sittingat home by themselves, it's probably not the best idea to tie off your arms.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:06:54]Exactly. However, DFR and predictably be strong in.

And even in top two, I would say, um, Great way to, uh, totry to treat hypertension, um, andexercise in general because, uh, youknow, and a lot of people will say, well, isn't it dangerous to increase yourblood pressure when you're already hypertensive? Well, yes, if that, if that'ssustained for 24 hours, but little bouts of increased blood pressure actuallyhelp you lower your blood pressure, desensitize your.

Bear re uh, Barrowreceptor. So have you have a little bit lower blood pressure in general? So, um, you know, that's, that's something to kindof clear the air a little bit with when it comes to exercise. Yes. The actual, uh, event of exercise is very stressful on thebody, but really it's that stress that then leads to adapting to be morehealthy, um, for the other 18 hoursin the day.

Brilliant. Stan. This is been an absolute pleasure and damnmy head hurts education. Uh it's it'sit's great. I want to transition now into a final few questions. Uh, what is your top trick for enhancingfocus?

Well, I think that's very relevant to what we're discussingtoday.

Boomer Anderson: [01:07:58]I wonder cause you did something beforehand, so

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:08:01]yeah.

Yeah. So I, um, wheneverI'm feeling a little bit sluggish, um, likeif I'm just feeling like my adrenals are kind of like loaded and just feelingmaybe inflamed, I'll put the bands on and just do a very short, uh, two and a half minute kind of flush. Andso it'll be one exercise. Again, not looking for fatigue necessarily, but justkind of getting my body turned on that helps.

Um, I'm also, um, I'm also, uh,I practice meditation quite a bit. Um,and actually I've experimented with having the bands on andinflating and deflating while I'm meditating. Um,and that actually I've noticed, especially with comparing that withsome breath work, um, is actually areally nice, um, way to focus andkind of, kind of kick those thoughts that you're trying to get out of yourhead.

Or, you know, as they say with meditation, you kind of let thosethoughts, those anxious thoughts, or whatever thoughts are having kind of floataway.

Boomer Anderson: [01:08:50]Walk me through this because you've just, you've seated two of my favoritethings, right? Like meditation, three of my favorite things, breath, work andlove the restriction.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:08:59]Yeah.

Boomer Anderson: [01:08:59]How are you? Are you you're manually inflated during this meditation session?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:09:05]Yes exactly. So what would I do? I I'm lucky enough to have, uh, more than one pump. So I have two pumps inmy hand and, um, I'll usually juststart with, uh, with my arms. I'llhave all four bands on, but I'll start with my arms.

I'll inflate. Um, again,kind of, uh, be kind of in a meditativestate working on box breathing. Um, sowhether it's two, two, two, or four, four, um, itkinda just depends on how I'm feeling that day. Um,but I'm working on that and working on diaphragmatic, breathing,breathing through the lower end of my stomach from my eyes.

And I should say, um, inflatingstaying in flight for about 30 seconds, releasing the pressure for about fiveto 10 seconds, inflating for about 30 and kind of using that as a way to inducethat meditative, um, kind of, kindof, uh, Response or, or statemeditated state rather, um, peopletend to think of like, okay, focus on your breath, counting, count out thisway.

I can kind of focus on my blood flow. Right. And, and reallynarrow my focus into that. And then I noticed if I do that for about 10minutes, um, after I just feel veryclairvoyant and ready to. To tackle the day. Wow. Um,so you kind of finished that protocol. Uh,after I do about five inflation deflation sessions on my arms, I'mgoing to be down at my legs and do the same with my legs.

Um, and then, andthen I'll deflate everything, take the bands off and, and sit there for anothertwo to three minutes.

Boomer Anderson: [01:10:20]Benefits of being a part of the company. Right. You can have the extra.Exactly. Exactly. I'm going to try and figure out how to run it with, with onepump. But, uh, what's what excitesyou most about the health world right now?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:10:33]Yeah, good question. Well, I think what excites me the most, especially beingon the kind of the research part of things is realizing how much we don't know.Um, I think that's a, you know, maybean antiquated statement of, uh, themore that you dive into something of a given topic, the more you realize thatyou don't know.

Um, it's very truewhen it comes to physiology and health. Um, soI just, you know, if the prospect of learning, uh,so much more about the body and, um, howmuch I've learned in this short time, just in terms of how important, forexample, blood flow is to your whole system, not just your cardiovascularsystem, but to your, um, your abilityto think your cognitive function, um, yourmetabolism and the way that you actually, um, degradeand break down nutrients, absorb nutrients.

It's also connected. And so I would say like the most, uh, that's the. Kind of the coolest nerdiestaspect of physiology for me is just how integrated the system is. Um, and, and I think that's studying thatintegration is going to be where the health, uh,health department health institutions kind of ended up going

Boomer Anderson: [01:11:28]book, which has most significantly impacted your life.

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:11:33]That's a good question. Um, so Irecently read, um, 12 rules for lifeby Jordan Peterson. Um, and, uh, and I've listened to the audio book aswell. I was, I was recently in a car ride and I kinda listen to that the wholeway down and, uh, had some really,really good stuff in there. And almost, almost to a point where.

All these things I've kind of already known, but he does areally good job of articulating them in a, in a palatable way. And, um, really helps you, uh, it's kind of people would call it a selfhelp book, but I also like to think about it as almost like a, um, Life hypothesis book or life, uh, like goal kind of book.

Um, it's a goodway to look at life and, and kind of take responsibility for your actions and, um, and take reins of your own life ratherthan kind of blaming other people or kind of having this victim mindset andthings like that. So that's definitely kind of informed a lot of my, um, you know, uh,ideals and, and, and things like that.

Boomer Anderson: [01:12:26]Where can people find out more about you and be strong?

Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:12:30]Yeah. So, um, I'm a little bit hardto find on the internet, but, uh, youcan, you can look. Hi. Yeah, I'm hiding. No, not unintentionally. Um, but, uh, theycan, they can to find out more information. Um, ifthey look up a UT, um, kinesiologydepartment, uh I'm I'm in there.

I I'm right now I'm in a clinical exercise physiologylaboratory at UT. Um, I was in thecardiovascular aging research lab. Um, sothat's kinda where my main focus is. Um, butI also, I, uh, I'm working with acompany called reach outcomes right now. So, uh,it's a performance center. We're looking to kind of integrate allthe aspects of performance.

So anything from recovery to sleep nutrition, I thinkstrength, conditioning, physical therapy, all of that under one umbrella. Um, that's if they want to kind of look. Lookme up on there. Um, anybody in theAustin area, if you're looking to enhance your performance or have a little bitmore direction, that's another good place to kind of find out more informationabout me, um, in terms of be strong, um, I'd kind of, uh,direct people to our website.

Be Uh, wecan find out there's tons of information that we've, that we posted on there. Um, whether it's from the mechanism to how youcan use this in your own applications, to how to put the bands on as simple askind of understanding what the bands are, are all are all about. Um, you can find a lot of information there.

Boomer Anderson: [01:13:37]Um, awesome. Stan, thank you so muchfor joining. This has been an amazing education and I really appreciate it.


Sten Stray-Gundersen: [01:13:43]it's been an honor. Thanks for having me on Boomer. I hope we can do somethingin the future.

Boomer Anderson: [01:13:47]Absolutely. Tell the superhumans, listening out there have an Epic day. Andwhen you're watching this subscribe to YouTube channel, because you're going towatch videos like this all the time.

Thank you, Stan. Appreciate it. No I love when you find ashortcut to something and blood flow restriction training with the be strongdevice has been a shortcut to an anabolic response for me. And for many people,I hope you enjoyed this conversation. And if you're looking for really any ofthe information discussed in this episode, head on over to and please share it on your various social media champions,tag, decoding superhuman. And let me know what you think of the episode, and ifit grabbed you in a good way, please head over to Apple podcast and leave afive star review because all of those maybe really help super humans have anabsolutely Epic day.


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