In this article, I’m going to share the best blood flow restriction bands, cuffs, devices, and all the other equipment you’ll need to get started. I’m going to help you figure out which BFR equipment is worth considering.
Over the years, I have tried many different BFR bands and BFR cuffs; some were great, and some were terrible. Everything I recommend in this article is something I have tried and that we personally use every day at Champion.
Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. But there are many quality options in blood flow restriction devices that you should consider for a variety of budgets and uses.
Keep reading to learn more about how to choose the best BFR bands, or click below to skip down to my recommended cuffs:
- Blood Flow Restriction Training
- How to Choose the Best Blood Flow Restriction Bands and Cuffs
- My Recommended BFR Bands and Equipment
- Additional BFR Equipment
- The Best BFR Cuffs and Equipment
- Learn More About Blood Flow Restriction Training
Blood Flow Restriction Training
Blood flow restriction training continues to grow in popularity. It’s no wonder considering that the science of blood flow restriction training continues to show great results in enhancing strength and performance in a low-load environment. Using BFR bands and BFR cuffs to enhance strength with less loading makes blood flow restriction training a really exciting tool for injury rehabilitation, training, and sports performance.
As the popularity of BFR training continues to rise, we’re starting to see more and more blood flow restriction equipment come to market. We now have a large variety of options of BFR equipment, BFR bands, BFR cuffs, and other BFR devices.
Unfortunately, this has led to a ton of poor quality BFR equipment.
If you want to learn more about blood flow restriction training, I have an entire BFR training online course where I discuss the science, application, and different equipment options in a ton more detail.
How to Choose the Best Blood Flow Restriction Bands and Cuffs
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best blood flow restriction bands and cuffs. Choosing the best BFR equipment will depend on how you intend to use the cuffs.
Will you be using them just for yourself? Are you a physical therapist looking to use blood flow restriction therapy with your patients? Are you a fitness professional looking to use it with a variety of clients? Do you plan on using them on both the upper extremity and lower extremity?
These are all important things to consider when choosing the best blood flow restriction cuffs:
- The size and width of the cuffs
- The material of the cuff
- The durability of the cuff
- The mechanism of applying pressure
- The ability to accurately measure pressure
- The Cost of Blood Flow Restriction Cuffs
The Size and Width of the Cuffs
One of the first things I consider when choosing BFR equipment is the size and width of the cuffs.
This may seem obvious, but if you use the BFR cuffs exclusively for the upper or lower body, you’ll want to get a BFR cuff that is the right length. Many upper body BFR cuffs are shorter and won’t be long enough to use around the leg.
But length isn’t the only factor.
The width of the cuff is also important and will change the comfort and amount of pressure needed. Narrow cuffs will require a greater amount of pressure to be effective. This can often be less comfortable.
The Material of the Cuffs
Blood flow restriction cuffs come in a variety of materials.
Some are elastic, and some are rigid. If you want to measure pressure accurately, I prefer a rigid cuff.
Some are easy to clean and waterproof. This may be important if you plan on using the BFR cuffs on multiple people and need to clean and sanitize them.
The durability is often associated with the material of the cuffs. However, many people don’t realize that many of the BFR cuffs on the market now have poor durability.
If you find a really great deal on BFR bands or cuffs on Amazon, it’s probably too good to be true.
I’ve played with so many different BFR devices and have found that many of them have poor velcro, material that rips, or even valves that separate from the cuff.
I’ve wasted a decent amount of money trying some cheaper BFR cuffs that were inferior quality.
The Mechanism of Applying Pressure
There are several ways to apply pressure during blood flow restriction training.
Most BFR straps apply pressure by simply tightening around the limb. You pull tighter to create more pressure.
Most BFR cuffs use air to inflate a cuff around the limb. You pump in more air to the cuff to create more pressure.
While these two mechanisms may seem similar, I actually think this is one of the most important factors in choosing BFR devices.
I have no problem with people using BFR straps on themselves. This is very simple and effective at applying pressure.
However, I really recommend that you select a BFR cuff rather than a BFR strap so that you can have a method of accurately measuring the amount of pressure applied.
The Ability to Accurately Measure Pressure
One of the most important factors when performing blood flow restriction training is the amount of pressure applied. This is super important for both the effectiveness and safety of BFR.
If you want to be as safe and effective as possible, you’ll want to be able to measure BFR pressure accurately.
If you want to be as consistent as possible and provide reliable results, you’ll want to measure BFR pressure accurately.
Measuring the amount of pressure applied will allow you to determine the optimal limb occlusion pressure.
That is why I recommend the pneumatic BFR cuffs that use air to inflate. Most of these include either a hand pump or an automated pump that can measure the pressure being applied, which will allow you to set the specific limb occlusion pressure.
The Cost of Blood Flow Restriction Cuffs
Last but certainly not least is the cost of blood flow restriction cuffs. While the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind, I do think that there are a variety of different price points.
You do not have to use super expensive equipment to get started using BFR. You can get BFR straps that cost as little as $10. I don’t want the cost of using BFR to be a factor holding you back from using BFR.
But, you probably want to spend a little more to get a higher quality BFR cuff.
Just like anything else, there are low-budget options, middle-of-the-road options, and high-end luxury options.
My Recommended BFR Bands and Equipment
I’ve tried a ton of different BFR cuffs, bands, straps, and other equipment. Here are some of my favorites right now. I’m sure there are other great options out there, including some high end premium options, but each of the below is something I personally have used and recommend. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these options.
- SmartCuffs BFR Cuffs
- B Strong BFR Cuffs
- Airband BFR Cuffs
- Edge BFR Cuffs
I’m also very thankful to many of these companies for offering my readers a discount or coupon on their BFR cuffs.
SmartCuffs BFR Cuffs
First up is my current favorite among BFR cuffs, the Smart Cuffs by Smart Tools.
The original smart cuffs were good. They were very comfortable and came with a hand pump to inflate the cuffs.
But the newest edition of the SmartCuffs is even better!
These cuffs come with an automated pump. The device automatically inflates, measures the occlusion pressure, then can inflate to a pre-determined percentage of limb occlusion pressure.
That’s amazing. And it works great. This was a feature you’d only find in the really expensive devices that cost thousands of dollars.
My clients report that these are some of the most comfortable bands to use as well.
There are two versions of the SmartCuffs. The regular version is affordable and a great option for personal use.
For those that want to invest a little more into BFR cuffs, the Smart Cuffs Pro has even more options at a still very affordable price for professional use.
The Pro version of the SmartCuffs allows customizable occlusion pressure, the ability to keep the pump connected and auto-regulate the pressure to ensure it remains consistent throughout your session, a new ischemic preconditioning mode that I think might be a great new recovery technique for my athletes, and the ability to use it on multiple people.
B Strong BFR Cuffs
I’ve been using the B Strong BFR cuffs for many years. That alone tells you something about the durability of these cuffs.
B Strong makes a great cuff that is comfortable, durable, and easy to clean.
The unique feature of these cuffs is the way it inflates. Rather than just having one large bladder or air in the cuff, the B Strong cuffs have several air pockets. This makes the cuff really comfortable.
Because of this unique feature, it’s really hard to occlude the limb fully. This makes these a great option for those that prioritize safety during BFR training. But, it also makes it hard to determine an exact limb occlusion pressure, which could be a negative factor if the precise measurement of occlusion is important.
Since these BFR cuffs do not automatically measure the pressure, you’ll also need to buy the additional BFR equipment (see below) to determine occlusion pressure, so there is a little added expense if you value that.
Airbands BFR Cuffs
Airbands have a really unique feature that I like. Each Airband has an automatic pump attached to the band, meaning there are no wires or external pumps.
The Airbands connect to an app on your phone to automatically inflate, measure limb occlusion pressure, and inflate to the desired pressure. That’s really cool and super easy to use.
They’re also comfortable and so far have been durable. I may be slightly worried about the long-term durability because it’s all one unit. You can’t just easily replace one band or pump if something goes wrong.
But so far, I’ve enjoyed using these and have not had any issues. They can be used professionally, but I think this could be one of the best BFR cuffs for personal use.
Edge BFR Cuffs
The Edge BFR Cuffs are worth checking out for those looking for a more affordable option.
These cuffs are really comfortable, are built with a nice material that is waterproof, and come with a hand pump to manually inflate the cuffs.
These are less than half the cost of many other options but have fewer features and will require you to buy some of the below BFR equipment to measure limb occlusion pressure accurately.
But if your budget is a concern, these are a great starting point.
For those looking for a more budget-friendly set of BFR cuffs, The Edge BFR cuffs are a great option. Their single bladder design and material are comfortable and easy to clean. You will need a doppler or pulse oximeter to measure LOP%.
Use coupon code REINOLD10 for 10% off.
Additional BFR Equipment
Some of the equipment above comes with everything you need to inflate, measure pressure, and determine an accurate limb occlusion pressure. That makes them convenient options.
But if you have other BFR cuffs that don’t measure pressure, you can still buy additional BFR equipment to do this.
Two options include a handheld doppler ultrasound or a finger pulse oximeter.
The handheld Doppler ultrasound is an accurate way of measuring the distal pulse as you inflate the cuffs. This is fast and accurate, though it typically costs a little over $100.
Lately, I’ve been playing with a simple finger pulse oximeter to do the same thing at a much lower price point. You do need to be careful. Most of the pulse oximeters you find online do not have continuous reading, so they do not work for BFR training.
But the below model should work. It’s a little slower in response and likely less accurate than a handheld Doppler, but again if budget is your primary concern, I’d be OK with going this route.
The Best BFR Cuffs and Equipment
There you go, that’s my list of some of my favorite BFR cuffs and tools to use to perform blood flow restriction training.
There are many options depending on your needs and budget, but with all these quality tools to choose from, there’s no reason not to start using BFR.
I’m sure there are other great tools out there, but you can’t go wrong with any of the above BFR equipment.
Learn More About Blood Flow Restriction Training
For those who want to learn even more, my friend Dan Lorenz and I have a comprehensive online course teaching you how to get started with blood flow restriction training.
We cover the history, science, application, and many ways we use BFR for injury rehabilitation, training, and recovery. Plus, we go into way more detail on how to pick the best BFR cuffs to sue.
- Learn more about my online blood flow restriction training course