Hormones & BFR - Insulin Growth Factor 1. What is it? Why is it important and how BFR can help.

Episode #48

Welcome back to BFR Radio and this short mini-series on hormones & BFR.

In particular one of the mechanisms as to how & why BFR works is the increase in acute anabolic hormones. Since we talk about, I thought I’d go into a little more detail about each hormone, why it is important and the types of BFR sessions that are associated with increases in these anabolic hormones.

The general flow of these episodes is to summarise the importance of these hormones, mechanisms behind how it gets activated and how BFR can be used to activate these useful hormones.

The last episode looked at Growth Hormone and today's episode we look at Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). Although the more known action of IGF-1 is to stimulate protein synthesis (muscle growth), it is both GH & IGF-1 that is proposed to act in concert to stimulate protein synthesis.

There are other important functions of IGF-1 signalling and in particular, they are both critical for proper development and function of many major organ systems.  There is very strong evidence for neuroprotective effects of IGF-1 in different situations, including aging.

As I delved deeper into why IGF-1 is important to us, I started to realise that it was more about increasing muscle size but rather the positive effects as we age. In particular the role that it plays in cognitive function, learning and memory tasks.

So although we typically see BFR as a way to increase muscle mass and strength, for ageing populations incorporating BFR into physical activity has implications that go beyond this. I go through a couple of studies and in particular one involves a 91-year old gentleman with sarcopenia. Its a simple study, but the outcomes are pretty amazing.

I bring in quite a few papers for this episode and probably a few too many to mention.

The papers from the studies though are:

Endocrine responses to upper-and lower-limb resistance exercises with blood flow restriction. 

Madarame et al. (2010). Acta Physiologica Hungarica

Strength training with blood flow restriction–a novel therapeutic approach for older adults with sarcopenia? A case report.  Lopes et al.   (2019) Clinical interventions in aging


If this review of hormones and BFR training, has sparked your own interest in starting an exercise regime, get in touch with me through my website or socials (@chrisgaviglio). The sports rehab tourniquet brand of BFR cuffs can also be purchase from my website and you can find it at sportsrehab.com.au

And lastly, before I go, a couple of favours from me to you:

If you know of someone who would benefit from this episode, please share it. And, if you’re enjoying the podcast please give it a rating on iTunes

Thanks for listening, see you in a couple of weeks  and remember to keep the pump.