Another BFR Success Story: Mark Wahlberg

Among the many roles that Mark Wahlberg has played throughout his career, fitness icon is definitely one of them.  While he may not have the fitness clout of Dwayne Johnson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg has definitely embodied the fitness lifestyle and has built a quality physique even as he closes in on his 5th decade.  Inspired by a recent Instagram post from the man himself (currently with 1.1 million views), featured an article on Mark Wahlberg’s use of blood flow restriction training!

The article explains that Mark Wahlberg has had several “wacky intricacies” in his training regimen over the years, including 2:30am wake ups, 90-minute showers, and cryotherapy chamber treatments to name but a few.  So is BFR the real deal or is it simply another one of Wahlberg’s fitness “hacks?”

The article explains that at first glance, BFR training seems like, “either pseudoscientific or flatly unsafe.”  It goes on to explain that with BFR training, “the idea is to partially limit blood flow (venous flow is blocked, arterial flow is able to pass through), so that blood cells have no choice but to collect around the muscles you’re trying to target. This puts the entire area under significant stress, which leads to an increase in blood lactate concentration, which leads to swelling.”  

The article highlights that BFR training, “is a total efficiency play. When you put muscles under that sort of duress, they’re approaching each exercise with a disadvantage. Lighter weight is more challenging to get up. Fifteen minutes of lifting can lead to fatigue. And therein lies the appeal.”  The ability to lift lighter loads while maintaining a training effect can, according to the Inside Hook, help with longevity in the Iron Game because, “our bodies struggle to keep up as we age.” 

The article also mentions that BFR training has implications in physical therapy.  “In fact, that’s why most studies on occlusion thus far have focused on physical therapy: it allows athletes rehabbing from surgery to get back in the gym earlier and actually see gains.”

The article concludes by saying, “You don’t have to replace your other workouts with BFR — it’s simply an alternative strength-training option, or even an additive, if you want to briefly put the straps on after completing a more traditional lift.”

Is this type of publicity good or bad for blood flow restriction training?  Does mainstream coverage create inflated hype when fed to a culture infected with and craving “the next best thing” or the “secret training method used by Hollywood stars?”  Is that not the same mechanism by which Kinesio Tape and cupping exploded after the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, respectively?  This led to a generation of athletes, patients, and practitioners using non-evidence-based techniques and hoping for a pot of gold, only to be left with colorful body art and absurd circular bruising.  Much like K-Tape and cupping, my fear is that mainstream media coverage of BFR training will cause people to focus on methods rather foundational principles of exercise and muscular adaptation such as adherence, progressive overload, sleep, nutrition, hydration, stress management, etc.

That being said, I’m actually quite optimistic.  I think this type of publicity is good.  It will no doubt help introduce people to BFR training, which will spark an interest.  In 2021, once an interest is sparked, the searching starts…Google, social media, Facebook groups, forums…you name it!  Why is that a good thing?  BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THE BFR PROS COME IN!  With the support of our growing community and devotion to consistently producing authentic evidence-based content, WE CAN BE THAT LANDING PLACE!  Imagine a young trainee reading the Inside Hook article or Mark Wahlberg’s Instagram post, then after a quick search, stumbling on our Facebook group , Instagram page, or BFR course!  What an impactful time in a person’s lifting journey to be exposed to quality resources like that!  

We can make a difference and we can be leaders in our field, but we need your help!  Spread the word!  We’re here and won’t stop until our job is done.  Who’s with us?

Link to Inside Hook article:

Link to Mark Walhberg’s Instagram post:

****Remember, the use of BFR training should not be based solely on a success story.  The decision to use BFR, or any treatment for that matter, should be based on the pillars of evidence-based practice.

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