Effects of exercise intensity and occlusion pressure after 12 weeks of resistance training with blood-flow restriction
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We compared the effects of different protocols of blood-flow restriction training (BFRT) with different occlusion pressures and/or exercise intensities on muscle mass and strength. We also compared BFRT protocols with conventional high-intensity resistance training (RT).
Twenty-six subjects had each leg allocated to two of five protocols. BFRT protocols were performed at either 20 or 40 % 1-RM with either 40 or 80 % occlusion pressure: BFRT20/40, BFRT20/80, BFRT40/40, and BFRT40/80. Conventional RT was performed at 80 % 1-RM (RT80) without blood-flow restriction. Maximum dynamic strength (1-RM) and quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) were assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks.
Regarding muscle mass, increasing occlusion pressure was effective only at very low intensity (BFRT20/40 0.78 % vs. BFRT20/80 3.22 %). No additional increase was observed at higher intensities (BFRT40/40 4.45 % vs. BFRT40/80 5.30 %), with no difference between the latter protocols and RT80 (5.90 %). Exercise intensity played a role in CSA when comparing groups with similar occlusion pressure. Muscle strength was similarly increased among BFRT groups (~12.10 %) but to a lesser extent than RT80 (21.60 %).
In conclusion, BFRT protocols benefit from higher occlusion pressure (80 %) when exercising at very low intensities. Conversely, occlusion pressure seems secondary to exercise intensity in more intense (40 % 1-RM) BFRT protocols. Finally, when considering muscle strength, BFRT protocols seem less effective than high-intensity RT.
KeywordsOcclusion training Strength training Muscle hypertrophy Occlusion pressure Exercise intensity Muscle strength
One-repetition maximum dynamic strength
Blood-flow restriction training
Confidence intervals of the effect size
Magnetic resonance imaging
The authors are grateful to Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP)—process number: 2014/05320-6 and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for financial support. HR, CU and VT are supported by CNPq (307023/2014-1, 304205/2011-7 and 310823/2013-7, respectively).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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