European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 10, pp 2089–2096 | Cite as

Muscle fatigue in response to low-load blood flow-restricted elbow-flexion exercise: are there any sex differences?

  • Goncalo V. MendoncaEmail author
  • Afonso Borges
  • Carolina Teodósio
  • Pedro Matos
  • Joana Correia
  • Carolina Vila-Chã
  • Pedro Mil-Homens
  • Pedro Pezarat-Correia
Original Article



This study aimed to determine whether men and women display a different magnitude of muscle fatigue in response to high-load (HL) and low-load blood flow-restricted (LLBFR) elbow-flexion exercise. We also explored to which extent both exercise protocols induce similar levels of muscle fatigue (i.e., torque decrement).


Sixty-two young participants (31 men and 31 women) performed dynamic elbow flexions at 20 and 75% of one-repetition maximum for LLBFR and HL exercise, respectively. Maximum voluntary isometric contractions were performed before and after exercise to quantify muscle fatigue.


Men and women exhibited similar magnitude of relative torque decrement after both exercise protocols (p > 0.05). HL was more fatiguing (∆ torque output: 11.9 and 23 N.m in women and men, respectively) than LLBFR resistance exercise (∆ torque output: 8.3 and 15.4 N.m in women and men, respectively) in both sexes, but this was largely attenuated after controlling for the differences in volume load between protocols (p > 0.05).


These data show that torque decrement in response to LLBFR and HL dynamic elbow-flexion exercise does not follow a sexually dimorphic pattern. Our data also indicate that, if performed in a multiple-set fashion and prescribed for a given volume load, elbow-flexion LLBFR exercise induces similar levels of fatigue as HL acute training. Importantly, this occurs similarly in both sexes.


Acute adaptation KAATSU Resistance training Sexual dimorphism Strength Elbow flexion 



Analysis of covariance


Analysis of variance


Arterial occlusion pressure


High load


Low-load blood flow restriction


Maximum voluntary isometric contraction


One-repetition maximum


Author contribution

GM, AB, PMH and PPC conceived the research. AB, CT, PM, GM and JC were involved in data collection. GM, AB and CVC wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


This work was supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal (PTDC/DTP-DES/5714-2014).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The study complied with the principles set forth in the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Faculty´s Ethics Committee (CEFMH No. 4/2017).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuromuscular Research Lab, Faculdade de Motricidade HumanaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.CIPER, Faculdade de Motricidade HumanaUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Polytechnic Institute of GuardaGuardaPortugal
  4. 4.Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health and Human Development (CIDESD)Vila RealPortugal

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