May 19, 2022

Chris Hemsworth’s toned arms are some of his most distinctive attributes, especially given its prominence in his Marvel film role as Thor.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Hemsworth revealed his method for achieving those results, noting that blood flow restriction was a critical technique for achieving the arm definition of a Nordic God.

Hemsworth shared a video of Australian trainer Ross Edgley strapping blood flow restriction bands on his arms before a weight lifting exercise. Hemsworth next performed dumbbell curls, and the device caused his arm veins to bulge dramatically.

“By restricting blood flow and oxygen, the muscles are forced to work harder in a shorter period of time, and a bunch of other ‘sports sciency’ stuff happens,” Hemsworth said in the caption. “Basically, it’s one of the most uncomfortable training methods I’ve experienced but part of the puzzle in growing Thor’s arms to look like the legs of a racehorse.”

Blood flow restriction is intended to assist in muscle development without using extremely heavy weights, but it can also aid in recovery and increase endurance. Athletes at this year’s Tokyo Olympics likewise made extensive use of the tactic.

To restrict blood flow in your arms, you tightly wrap them in an elastic band. This causes blood to pool in the arms and lactic acid to build up.

“It’s very useful for training around an injury that doesn’t allow for heavier loads to be used,” personal trainer Harry Smith previously told Insider. “Blood-flow restriction training forces you to use much lighter loads than you usually would as the restricted venous return traps blood in the muscle, limiting its range of motion to an extent and causes a huge build-up of metabolites and lactic acid.”

This approach enables bodybuilders and anybody else interested in increasing the size and shape of their biceps and triceps to do so without the hazards associated with higher weights.

“The trapping of the blood is going to trap lactic acid,” Zachary Long, Director of Physical Therapy at Carolina Sports Clinic. “As you’re exercising, you’re building up more and more lactic acid… the growth hormone release that occurs in response [to that] is actually higher than what we see with heavy resistance training.”

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However, restricting the blood flow to grow muscle and improve arm aesthetics may have some unpleasant side effects.

“This ‘inflates’ the muscle, effectively stretching it. This sensation is excruciatingly unpleasant and, as a result of the swelling impact, may encourage muscle hypertrophy,” said Smith.

Additionally, the procedure should not be employed by individuals who have high blood pressure, varicose veins, or deep vein thrombosis.