Sex differences in blood flow restricted isotonic knee extensions to fatigue

K E Labarbera, B G Murphy, D P Laroche, S B Cook
Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2013, 53 (4): 444-52

AIM: It has been shown that females have greater muscular endurance than males and that this advantage is eliminated when blood flow is restricted. It is unknown if sex differences in dynamic endurance exist during low-load blood flow restricted (BFR) resistance exercise. The purpose of this study was to investigate sex differences in quadriceps femoris fatigability during isotonic knee extension exercise coupled with a blood flow restriction.

METHODS: Ten males and ten females completed three sets of low-load isotonic knee extension exercises (20% of peak torque) to volitional failure under two conditions: blood flow restricted (BFR) and non-restricted free flow (FF). The number of repetitions, exercise volume, post-exercise strength loss and surface electromyography (EMG) were measured.

RESULTS: Females performed more repetitions than males in the FF (252±37 vs. 112±17 repetitions; P<0.01) and BFR conditions (165±29 vs. 79±8 repetitions; P<0.01). Both sexes performed ~30% fewer repetitions during the BFR condition. MVC torque decreased approximately 37% following both conditions (P<0.01) and EMG activity increased (P<0.05) during the exercise bouts.

CONCLUSION: Similar fatigue characteristics were evident in FF and BFR conditions for both sexes, and females demonstrated greater endurance, as determined by the number of repetitions completed, in both conditions. It may be beneficial to increase the relative exercise load for females in order to decrease the time under BFR.


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