Ep 20. Improve your Rowing performance by using this simple BFR intervention.

Hi there and welcome to this month's episode.

In this article review I look at a recent paper that investigated the use of Blood Flow Restriction cuffs whilst rowing at low intensities to improve aerobic (VO2max) capacity in elite rowing athletes. There is growing evidence in using Blood Flow Restriction during low intensity exercise (i.e. jogging, cycling and now rowing) whilst performing sport specific movement to improve performance parameters.

The other interesting point in this article is that they used elite athletes. The ability to improve performance in elite athletes is difficult and therefore the results that they showed in this article provides a great reason to look towards finding ways to incorporate BFR into athlete's training programming.

So whether you are a rower or an athlete looking to improve your aerobic I feel that there is definitely a place for including Blood Flow Restriction into your training. As per the article, it BFR was added during their low intensity exercise sessions making it an easy addition to your own training. 

For more information about BFR or to purchase your own set of occlusion training cuffs please come over to my website www.sportsrehab.com.au.

Thanks for listening.

For more information on the article:

Lowintensityrowingwith bloodflowrestrictionover5weeksincreases V̇O2max in eliterowers: A randomized controlled trial.

J Sci Med Sport.2020 Mar;23(3):304-308. Epub 2019 Oct 15.



The present randomized controlled intervention study examined the effects of practical bloodflowrestriction(pBFR) on maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) during lowintensityrowing.


Thirty-one eliterowerswere either assigned to the intervention (INT) or control (CON) group, using the minimization method (Strata: Gender, Age, Height, V̇O2max).


While INT (n=16; 4 female, 12 male, 21.9±3.2 years, 180.4±8.7cm, 73.6±10.9kg, V̇O2max: 63.0±7.9ml/min/kg) used pBFR during boat- and indoor-rowingtraining, CON (n=15, 4 female, 11 male, 21.7±3.7 years, 180.7±8.1cm, 72.5±12.1kg, V̇O2max: 63.2±8.5ml/min/kg) completed the identical training without pBFR. pBFR of the lower limb was applied via customized elastic wraps. Training took place three times a week over5weeks(accumulated net pBFR: 60min/week; occlusion per session: 2-times 10min/session) and was used exclusively at lowintensities (<2mmol/L). A spiroergometric ramp test (V̇O2max; 30-40W/min increase) on rowing-ergometer and one-repetition maximum test of the squat exercise (SQ1RM) was employed to assess endurance and strength capacity.


Significant group×time interactions (ηp²=0.26) in favor of INT were found for V̇O2max (+9.1±6.2%, Effect Size=1.3) compared to CON (+2.5±6.1%, ES=0.3). SQ1RM (ηp²=0.01) was not affected by the pBFR intervention.


This study revealed that 15 sessions of pBFR application with a cumulative total pBFR load of 5h overa 5weeksmacrocycle remarkably increased V̇O2max. Thus, pBFR might serve as a promising means to improve aerobic capacity in highly trained eliterowers.

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