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Unilateral bicep curl hemodynamics: Low-pressure continuous vs high-pressure intermittent blood flow restriction

C R Brandner, D J Kidgell, S A Warmington
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 2015, 25 (6): 770-7
25055880
Light-load exercise training with blood flow restriction (BFR) increases muscle strength and size. However, the hemodynamics of BFR exercise appear elevated compared with non-BFR exercise. This questions the suitability of BFR in special/clinical populations. Nevertheless, hemodynamics of standard prescription protocols for BFR and traditional heavy-load exercise have not been compared. We investigated the hemodynamics of two common BFR exercise methods and two traditional resistance exercises. Twelve young males completed four unilateral elbow flexion exercise trials in a balanced, randomized crossover design: (a) heavy load [HL; 80% one-repetition maximum (1-RM)]; (b) light load (LL; 20% 1-RM); and two other light-load trials with BFR applied (c) continuously at 80% resting systolic blood pressure (BFR-C) or (d) intermittently at 130% resting systolic blood pressure (BFR-I). Hemodynamics were measured at baseline, during exercise, and for 60-min post-exercise. Exercising heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, and rate-pressure product were significantly greater for HL and BFR-I compared with LL. The magnitude of hemodynamic stress for BFR-C was between that of HL and LL. These data show reduced hemodynamics for continuous low-pressure BFR exercise compared with intermittent high-pressure BFR in young healthy populations. BFR remains a potentially viable method to improve muscle mass and strength in special/clinical populations.

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