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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Oct;24(5):799-806. doi: 10.1111/sms.12087. Epub 2013 Jun 3.

Muscle size and arterial stiffness after blood flow-restricted low-intensity resistance training in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Ischemic Circulatory Physiology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


Previous studies have shown that blood flow-restricted low-intensity resistance training (BFR-RT) causes muscle hypertrophy while maintaining arterial function in young adults. We examined the effects of BFR-RT on muscle size and arterial stiffness in older adults. Healthy subjects (ages 61-84 years) were divided into BFR-RT (n = 9) or non-training control (CON; n = 10) groups. The BFR-RT group performed 20% and 30%, respectively, of one-repetition maximal (1-RM) knee extension and leg press exercises, 2 days/wk for 12 weeks. The BFR-RT group wore elastic cuffs (120-270 mmHg) on both legs during training. Magnetic resonance imaging-measured muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), 1-RM strength, chair stand (CS) test, and cardio-ankle vascular index testing (CAVI), an index of arterial stiffness, were measured before and 3-5 days after the final training session. Muscle CSA of the quadriceps (8.0%), adductors (6.5%), and gluteus maximus (4.4%), leg extension and leg press 1-RM strength (26.1% and 33.4%), and CS performance (18.3%) improved (P < 0.05) in the BFR-RT group, but not in the CON group. In CAVI testing, there were no changes in both two groups. In conclusion, BFR-RT improves muscle CSA as well as maximal muscle strength, but does not negatively affect arterial stiffness or humeral coagulation factors in older adults.

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


arterial stiffness; muscle hypertrophy; sarcopenia; strength; vascular occlusion

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