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The application of blood flow restriction during low-load resistance exercise has been shown to induce muscle growth with high or low restriction pressures, however, loads lower than 20% one-repetition maximum (1RM) remain unexplored. Fourteen trained individuals completed six elbow flexion protocols involving three different loads (10%, 15%, and 20% 1RM) each of which was performed with either a low (40% arterial occlusion) or high (80% arterial occlusion) pressure. Pre- and post-measurements of surface electromyography (sEMG), isometric torque, and muscle thickness were analyzed. An interaction was present for torque (p < 0.001) and muscle thickness (p < 0.001) illustrating that all increases in pressure and/or load resulted in a greater fatigue and muscle thickness. There was no interaction for sEMG (p = 0.832); however, there were main effects of condition (p = 0.002) and time (p = 0.019) illustrating greater sEMG in the 20% 1RM conditions. Higher blood flow restriction pressures may be more beneficial for muscle growth when very low loads are used.

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Physiology International
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