PURPOSE: Our laboratory recently demonstrated that post-exercise blood flow restriction attenuated muscle hypertrophy only in females, which we hypothesized may be due to alterations in post-exercise blood flow. The aim of this study is to test our previous hypothesis that sex differences in blood flow would exist when employing the same protocol.
METHODS: Twenty-two untrained individuals (12 females; 10 males) performed two exercise sessions, each involving one set of elbow flexion exercise to volitional failure on the right arm. The experimental condition had blood flow restriction applied for a 3 min post-exercise period, whereas the control condition did not. Blood flow was measured using an ultrasound at the brachial artery and was taken 1 and 4 min post-exercise. This corresponded to 1 min post inflation and 1 min post deflation in the experimental condition.
RESULTS: There were no differences in the alterations in blood flow between the control and experimental conditions when examined across sex. Increases in blood flow [mean (standard deviation)] were as follows: males 1 min [control 764 (577) %; experimental 113 (108) %], males 4 min [control 346 (313) %; experimental 449 (371) %], females 1 min [control 558 (367) %; experimental 87 (105) %], and females 4 min [control 191 (183) %; experimental 328 (223) %].
CONCLUSION: It does not appear that the sex-specific attenuation of muscle hypertrophy we observed previously can be attributed to different alterations in post-exercise blood flow. Future studies may wish to replicate our previous training study, or examine alternative mechanisms which may be sex specific.