What is it?
There are three scientific principles at the heart of the Vasper:
– cooling; and
– high intensity interval training.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these.
The use of compression on the Vasper is not to restrict blood flow to the muscle itself, but to reduce blood flow from the muscle. The reduced blood flow from the muscle, leads to a build up of metabolites (e.g. lactic acid), the waste products produced by your muscle cells when engaged in exercise. The compression means that you get a higher concentration of these metabolites than most people could possibly accomplish in exercise without the compression.
The higher concentration of these metabolites has two brilliant benefits. The first is that when the cuffs are released at the end of the Vasper session, high levels of metabolites flow through your blood stream. These metabolites act as a signal to your brain that you require more muscle mass for future work outs. In response, your brain releases a cocktail of anabolic hormones to encourage muscle growth.
A second brilliant benefit is that once the cuffs are released the blood swiftly pumps the metabolites out of your muscles. This build up and then quick dissipation means that there is none of the soreness after a Vasper session that one might expect.
Blood-flow restriction training (“BFR”) has been shown to be effective independent of the Vasper.
A meta-analysis looking at the results of twenty different studies found that BFR training was both “more effective and more tolerable” than low-load training
A separate study reported that BFR training produced: “a rise in growth hormone that is higher than levels found with higher intensities”. The authors go on to say that this presents an opportunity for BFR to be used for patient populations that would not be able to exercise at greater intensities, e.g. the elderly or those rehabilitating an injury.
However, as there is greater focus on longevity, there is a strong argument that we should all be looking to find ways to get more benefits from exercise, with lesser intensity. This entails less wear and tear on joints, allowing us to thrive for longer and reducing the potential for injuries.
Beyond the role of BFR in rehabilitation, a controlled study looked at the effects of BFR in semiprofessional athletes. Not only did it find that greater improvements were observed in the BFR group, but it also noted that lower-body occlusion resulted in increases in bench-press strength, suggesting that BFR has a systemic effect.
So, taken together, there is good evidence that BFR can promote gains in strength and muscle size without having to train at the higher intensities that can be more wearing on the body.
The cooling element of the Vasper serves two purposes.
Firstly, the cold helps to reduce any inflammation. The cooling on the Vasper is particularly welcome as the lactic acid builds due to the compression element.
Secondly, the cooling allows you to have a far more efficient work out. The body is always seeking homeostasis and it tightly controls its temperature. During an intense work out, your body temperature rises and your body dilates the blood vessels at the surface of your skin so that it can dissipate the extra heat. However, when your blood is being sent to the surface of your skin, there is necessarily less carrying oxygen to your muscles for them to continue powering through your work out.
The cooling of the Vasper, particularly around your muscles, allows a greater volume of your blood to continue to flow to the muscles. Therefore your muscle cells have more oxygen and can continue to fire. Thus, you can push yourself harder than would physiologically be possible in the absence of the cooling.
Another benefit is that the cooling means your blood temperature does not increase as much as it would do in a normal exercise session. The lower temperature allows your blood to hold more oxygen and transport it to the muscles.
There is plenty of exciting research on the benefits of cold exposure. For more on this, check out our page digging into the science behind cryotherapy [insert link if possible].
In terms of cooling and exercise performance specifically, a review article has confirmed that “increasing body heat is a limiting factor during exercise”. A further study demonstrated that athletes that warmed-up while wearing a cooling vest were able to then perform better when running.
The conclusion from a an overview article on the effectiveness of cooling interventions was that applying cooling to reduce “thermal strain” is an effective strategy to improve performance, exercise capacity and recovery.
So, it is already well-established that cooling can mitigate inflammation, and there is evidence that a cool performance is a better performance.
High Intensity Interval Training
Hight Intensity Interval Training (“HIIT”) has been around for a while now, and most people are familiar with its benefits. By exerting yourself harder, for a shorter period of time, you can get better results than by doing lower intensity exercise for longer.
There is an evolutionary argument for this style of training as well. Historically, our ancestors are unlikely to have gone on a long run for hours for no real reason. But when hunting they could track an animal (walking) before chasing it down (sprinting). The reverse situation is also true: sprinting away from a predator required a short-term but all out effort.
The American College of Sports Medicine states that HIIT has been shown to improve:
• aerobic and anaerobic fitness;
• blood pressure;
• cardiovascular health;
• insulin sensitivity (which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy);
• cholesterol profiles; and
• abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass.
Not only has it been shown that HIIT allows you to get a work out done, achieving the same weight loss, in a shorter period of time; but some studies have found that HIIT led to a greater reduction in abdominal fat than an aerobic-based exercise program.
It has even been shown that high-intensity interval training can activate mitochondrial biogenesis: the process by which your body creates more mitochondria, “the powerhouses of your cells”.
Putting it all Together
When you combine the principles mentioned above, you get incredible results.
Studies done on the Vasper have consistently shown that participants see an increase in anabolic hormones, such as IGF-1 and testosterone, while simultaneously seeing a decrease in cortisol levels. This is not easily done: often increased training demands cause the body additional stress, and so cortisol levels increase. Levels of anabolic hormones decrease with age, so exercise that increases them can have value for anyone interested in longevity.
A further study found that a Vasper session caused an increase in the circulation of stem cells. Stem cells have long been the great hope of many forms of regenerative medicine. Increasing circulation of them within the body is preferable to more invasive and expensive procedures to extract, isolate and then re-inject them.
In healthy volunteers, it was found that the Vasper led to improvements in the function of existing blood vessels, and the creation of new ones. Damaged blood vessels can contribute to the risks of strokes, vascular Dementia, and cardiovascular disease. The Vasper’s role in improving existing vessels, and promoting the growth of new healthy ones is very exciting.
A study on veterans found that Vasper sessions improved sleep quality. As sleep is fundamental to all other aspects of health, it is worthwhile improving it where possible, and optimising it as much as possible. It was noted that the Vasper could also be helpful for: “other individuals with insomnia, post-traumatic stress, chronic fatigue, and depression”.
Managing blood sugar spikes is important for longevity and health optimisation, not just the avoidance of diabetes. Vasper use in diabetics was found to contribute to a reduction in the markers of diabetes and to assist with weight loss.
The Vasper system is awesome for:
• accelerating recovery, without pain;
• increasing lean muscle mass;
• reducing body fat;
• improving fitness levels;
• improving sleep; and
• decreasing cortisol levels.
Moreover, as the system is basically no impact it can be brilliant for helping in the rehabilitation of injuries. You’re seated throughout so that there is no unnecessary strain on joints.
It can be adapted to either be used as a tool for enhancing recovery from other training, or as a training modality in itself. The software allows for each work out to be tailored to the individual, so that the same machine can provide a good work out to a Navy SEAL and a 95 year old grandmother. The pressures of the compression cuffs and the resistance that you’re working against can all be tweaked to ensure that you meet your appropriate limit every time: whether you’re having an active recovery day, or this is your tough work out for the week.
Another element of the Vasper that is less widely known is the grounding. The foot pedals are metal and are grounded to further reduce any inflammation from the work out.
Whatever your goals, the Vasper can help you reduce inflammation, gain strength, and improve fitness. It should be a staple in everyone’s routine. To find out more about the benefits of Vasper, or to book a session in our Wimbledon studio, contact us: