, Volume 44, Issue 8, pp 1037-1054
Date: 09 Apr 2014

Hypoxia and Resistance Exercise: A Comparison of Localized and Systemic Methods

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Abstract

It is generally believed that optimal hypertrophic and strength gains are induced through moderate- or high-intensity resistance training, equivalent to at least 60 % of an individual’s 1-repetition maximum (1RM). However, recent evidence suggests that similar adaptations are facilitated when low-intensity resistance exercise (~20–50 % 1RM) is combined with blood flow restriction (BFR) to the working muscles. Although the mechanisms underpinning these responses are not yet firmly established, it appears that localized hypoxia created by BFR may provide an anabolic stimulus by enhancing the metabolic and endocrine response, and increase cellular swelling and signalling function following resistance exercise. Moreover, BFR has also been demonstrated to increase type II muscle fibre recruitment during exercise. However, inappropriate implementation of BFR can result in detrimental effects, including petechial haemorrhage and dizziness. Furthermore, as BFR is limited to the limbs, the muscles of the trunk are unable to be trained under localized hypoxia. More recently, the use of systemic hypoxia via hypoxic chambers and devices has been investigated as a novel way to stimulate similar physiological responses to resistance training as BFR techniques. While little evidence is available, reports indicate that beneficial adaptations, similar to those induced by BFR, are possible using these methods. The use of systemic hypoxia allows large groups to train concurrently within a hypoxic chamber using multi-joint exercises. However, further scientific research is required to fully understand the mechanisms that cause augmented muscular changes during resistance exercise with a localized or systemic hypoxic stimulus.