Influence of relative blood flow restriction pressure on muscle activation and muscle adaptation

Brittany R Counts, Scott J Dankel, Brian E Barnett, Daeyeol Kim, J Grant Mouser, Kirsten M Allen, Robert S Thiebaud, Takashi Abe, Michael G Bemben, Jeremy P Loenneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to investigate the acute and chronic skeletal muscle response to differing levels of blood flow restriction (BFR) pressure.

METHODS: Fourteen participants completed elbow flexion exercise with pressures from 40% to 90% of arterial occlusion. Pre/post torque measurements and electromyographic (EMG) amplitude of each set were quantified for each condition. This was followed by a separate 8-week training study of the effect of high (90% arterial occlusion) and low (40% arterial occlusion) pressure on muscle size and function.

RESULTS: For the acute study, decreases in torque were similar between pressures [-15.5 (5.9) Nm, P = 0.344]. For amplitude of the first 3 and last 3 reps there was a time effect. After training, increases in muscle size (10%), peak isotonic strength (18%), peak isokinetic torque (180°/s = 23%, 60°/s = 11%), and muscular endurance (62%) changed similarly between pressures.

CONCLUSION: We suggest that higher relative pressures may not be necessary when exercising under BFR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-45
Number of pages8
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016


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