New applications of blood flow restriction training

Project: Funded by Internal Resources

Project participants


Research Objective

It was previously assumed that there is a minimum intensity threshold for resistance training that is at about 60-70% of the individual one repetition maximum (1RM). However, there is a growing body of evidence that low-intensity resistance training is also able to induce muscle mass and strength gains, when blood flow is restricted during the training. Since previous investigations mainly focused on the application of BFR during low intensity resistance training programs, it was the aim of the present project if other training stimulus also benefit from a reduced blood flow.


We investigated the effect of BFR on the acute endocrine response and circulating muscle damage markers to a single bout of (i) eccentric or (ii) high intensity (80% 1RM) contractions of the knee extensors. We further applied BFR during a (iii) six week, isometric electro-myostimulation (EMS) program of the upper arm and thigh muscles and searched for structural and functional muscle adaptations. Finally we examined if (iii) BFR is able to improve the 100 m dash time, when applied during a low intensity sprint interval training.

Key Findings

BFR during eccentric knee extensions induced a premature muscle fatigue. However, the exercise induced release anabolic hormones and muscle damage markers did not differ between the restricted and the unrestricted condition. After high intensity knee extensions (80% 1RM) we observed higher human growth hormone responses, when compared to the low intensity protocol (20% 1RM). By contrast, only the low intensity group presented an exercise induced increase of serum testosterone. The application of BFR during the six week EMS training revealed that this additional stimulus improved some of the functional (strength) and structural (hypertrophy) adaptations measured. Similarly, the sprint interval training resulted in significant improvements of the 100 m dash time only in the BFR group. Further, it was observed that the rate of force development only increased in the BFR group. In summary, BFR training seems to elicit positive effects on different training stimuli, other than low intensity resistance training.
Life span01.05.1431.12.15

ID: 1596764

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