Very-low-load resistance exercise in the upper body with and without blood flow restriction: cardiovascular outcomes

J Grant Mouser, Kevin T Mattocks, Scott J Dankel, Samuel L Buckner, Matthew B Jessee, Zachary W Bell, Takashi Abe, Jeremy P Loenneke

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16 Scopus citations


It is proposed that, at very low loads, greater blood flow restriction (BFR) pressures might be required for muscular adaptation to occur. The cardiovascular and hyperemic response to very low loads combined with relative levels of BFR is unknown. Ninety-seven participants were recruited and assigned to 1 of 4 exercise conditions: 15% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM) without BFR (15/00), 15% 1RM with BFR at 40% of arterial occlusion pressure (AOP) (15/40), 15% of 1RM with BFR at 80% of AOP (15/80), and 70% of 1RM without BFR (70/00). Participants performed 4 sets of unilateral biceps curls. Blood pressure was measured before and after exercise; brachial artery blood flow was measured before exercise, following the second set, and 1 min following exercise. Systolic blood pressure increased following exercise in all conditions (+10 (11) mm Hg, P < 0.0005). Diastolic pressure increased in all but 70/00 (+2 (11) mm Hg, P = 0.107). Brachial artery blood flow increased following the second set of exercise in all but 15/80 (+43.4 (76.8) mL·min-1, P = 0.348). One minute following exercise and cuff deflation, there were no differences in blood flow between conditions (P > 0.05). Similarly, artery diameter was increased in all conditions except 15/80 (+0.002 (0.041) cm, P = 0.853) following the second set, and increased in all conditions by 1 min following exercise (P < 0.05). In conclusion, exercise-induced hyperemia is blunted with increasing pressures of BFR. There is a modest increase in blood pressure at very low loads of resistance exercise in the upper body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-292
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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