I love giving obscure training gear and methods a try, so I instantly jumped at the opportunity when I was offered to test the Hytro Genesis t-shirt. After all, the Hytro Genesis promises "scientifically proven results in just 2 weeks" and "accelerated muscle growth", all the while putting less strain on muscles. Too good to be true? I was determined to find out.
The Hytro Genesis uses blood flow restriction training (or BFR for short) to do its magic. Have you heard of BFR before? No? You're not the only one. This type of training flew under the radar for decades and only recently gained traction in mainstream media, thanks to athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics saying they used it for their training.
As the name suggests, BFR restricts the blood flow away from the muscles, saturating them with hormones and putting them under stress, all of which is instantly released when you loosen the cuffs (and therefore tension). This is said to affect not just the restricted limb but also the muscular and hormonal system as a whole.
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If this is all true, how come BFR is not used more widely already? According to Dr Warren Bradley, blood flow training expert and founder of Hytro (opens in new tab), it's because BFR cuffs are fiddly to use and maintain, which is also the main reason why he founded his company in the first place.
The Hytro Genesis shirt is said to make BFR training more convenient by eliminating inflatable cuffs and replacing them with "hi-tech fasteners and robust elastane straps", which can be adjusted quickly using one hand only. Essentially, you get all the benefits of BFR training and none of the drawbacks.
The t-shirt design also ensures that the cuffs are always in the right position, something I was curious about as the Hytro Genesis comes in standard sizes. I'm 6"1' and used a medium t-shirt and seemed to fit me well (I'm buy no means a mass monster so bear that in mind).
How I tested the Hytro Genesis t-shirt
Generally speaking – and especially at the beginning – you use lighter weights when working out using BFR. Your arm muscles are under more stress so that they can lift less, but it doesn't mean they don't work hard. As a matter of fact, despite the lighter weights, you can actually accelerate muscle growth using BFR.
To test the Hytro Genesis, I followed the advice (opens in new tab) given by Hytro: I did 4-5 exercises per session, four sets per exercise, following a 30-15-15-15 rep pattern. The weights were 30% of my 1 rep max, at least at the beginning. I timed my session using a running watch, the Coros Vertix 2, to be precise, as I was also testing that at the time. I used the sixth cuff setting (out of 12) as that felt tight enough for the workouts.
My initial thought was, "surely these weights won't be heavy enough", but not surprisingly, by the 30th rep, even 30% of your 1 rep max feels quite challenging to push (or pull).
There were a few exercises where I couldn't quite finish the first long set – overhead press and bent over row in particular – but once I got used to the BFR sensation – took me a few sessions – things were back to normal. I even ended up using heavier weights during the last three sets of each exercise by the end of the training period.
Thanks to timing the workouts with a watch, they lasted around half an hour each. The arms, especially the delts, almost always felt sore by the end of the workouts, but not in a bad way. However, the target muscles didn't always feel quite as worked as if I just did a 'traditional' strength workout, but even I admit, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Where is my pump?
One of my main concerns about the Hytro Genesis was the fastening method used. The cuffs are secured using narrow strips of Velcro-style patches, which doesn't seem the most reliable way to go about this.
Sure enough, the cuffs popped off a couple of times during certain exercises (especially the aforementioned bent over row and overhead press) no matter how hard I tried to massage the connection point before the exercise. I feel a bra-style clip would do a better job in keeping the cuffs in place.
But to be honest, this wasn't my biggest issue with the Hytro Genesis.
No, what I missed the most was seeing my 'pump' during the workout. The 'pump' is a state when your muscles are all swollen after a workout. The pump is the weight lifter's reward for putting the effort in, and in theory, the Hytro Genesis further emphasises this effect by keeping the blood in the muscles for longer.
However, the lovely – albeit thick – fabric and the non-muscle fit style of the t-shirt takes away the pleasure of looking at your muscles during the session, as vain as this sounds.
Hytro Genesis t-shirt: verdict
It's hard to tell if working out in the Hytro Genesis t-shirt had a significant effect on my body. My arms don't look much bigger than before I started my training and it's almost impossible to verify how well BFR enhances growth hormone distribution without blood tests.
That said, I will continue using the Hytro Genesis t-shirt for training going forward to complement my standard weight training. Even if it boosts hormones and helps recovery just a little bit, there is no reason why I shouldn't spice my workouts with BFR training.
The Hytro Genesis t-shirt is available to buy now at Hytro (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of £99.