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  • Author or Editor: Jeremy Loenneke x
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Low-intensity blood-flow restriction (BFR) resistance training significantly increases strength and muscle size, but some studies report it produces exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) in the lower body after exercise to failure.


To investigate the effects of a pre-set number of repetitions of upper body concentric and eccentric exercise when combined with BFR on changes in EIMD.


Ten young men had arms randomly assigned to either concentric BFR (CON-BFR) or eccentric BFR (ECC-BFR) dumbbell curl exercise (30% one-repetition maximum (1-RM), 1 set of 30 repetitions followed by 3 sets of 15 repetitions). Maximal isometric voluntary contraction force (MVC), muscle thickness (MTH), circumference, range of motion (ROM), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and muscle soreness were measured before, immediately after, and daily for 4 days post-exercise.


MVC decreased by 36% for CON-BFR and 12% for ECCBFR immediately after exercise but was not changed 1–4 days post-exercise (p > 0.05). Only CON-BFR had significant changes in MTH and circumference immediately after exercise (p < 0.05). Muscle soreness was observed in the ECC-BFR arm at 1 and 2 days after exercise.


Low-intensity ECC-BFR produces significant muscle soreness at 24 h but neither ECC-BFR nor CON-BFR exercise produces significant changes in multiple indices of EIMD.

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Blood flow restriction (BFR) combined with low load resistance training has been shown to result in muscle hypertrophy similar to that observed with higher loads. However, not all studies have found BFR efficacious, possibly due to methodological differences. It is presently unclear whether there are differences between cuffs of similar size (5 cm) but different material (nylon vs. elastic). The purpose was to determine if there are differences in repetitions to fatigue and perceptual ratings of exertion (RPE) and discomfort between narrow elastic and narrow nylon cuffs. Sixteen males and females completed three sets of BFR knee extension exercise in a randomized cross-over design using either elastic or nylon restrictive cuffs applied at the proximal thigh. There were no differences in repetitions to fatigue (marker of blood flow) or perceptual ratings between narrow elastic and narrow nylon cuffs. This data suggests that either elastic or nylon cuffs of the same width should cause similar degrees of BFR at the same pressure during resistance exercise.

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Authors: Jeremy Loenneke, T. Abe, J. Wilson, R. Thiebaud, C. Fahs, L. Rossow and M. Bemben

To remain independent and healthy, an important factor to consider is the maintenance of skeletal muscle mass. Inactivity leads to measurable changes in muscle and bone, reduces exercise capacity, impairs the immune system, and decreases the sensitivity to insulin. Therefore, maintaining physical activity is of great importance for skeletal muscle health. One form of structured physical activity is resistance training. Generally speaking, one needs to lift weights at approximately 70% of their one repetition maximum (1RM) to have noticeable increases in muscle size and strength. Although numerous positive effects are observed from heavy resistance training, some at risk populations (e.g. elderly, rehabilitating patients, etc.) might be advised not to perform high-load resistance training and may be limited to performance of low-load resistance exercise. A technique which applies pressure cuffs to the limbs causing blood flow restriction (BFR) has been shown to attenuate atrophy and when combined with low intensity exercise has resulted in an increase in both muscle size and strength across different age groups. We have provided an evidence based model of progression from bed rest to higher load resistance training, based largely on BFR literature concentrating on more at risk populations, to highlight a possible path to recovery.

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Authors: Jeremy Loenneke, C. Fahs, R. Thiebaud, L. Rossow, T. Abe, Xin Ye, D. Kim and M. Bemben

The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential mechanisms behind the blood flow restriction (BFR) stimulus in the absence of exercise. Nine participants completed a 10 minute time control and then a BFR protocol. The protocol was five, 5-minute bouts of inflation with 3-minutes of deflation between each bout. The pressure was set relative to each individual’s thigh circumference. Significant increases in muscle thickness were observed for both the vastus lateralis (VL) [6%, p = 0.027] and rectus femoris (RF) [22%, p = 0.001] along with a significant decrease in plasma volume [15%, p = 0.001]. Ratings of discomfort during the BFR protocol peaked at 2.7 (light discomfort). There were no significant changes with whole blood lactate, electromyography (EMG), or heart rate (HR), however, there was a trend for a significant increase in HR during the 5th inflation (p = 0.057). In conclusion, this is the first study to demonstrate that the attenuation of both muscle atrophy and declines in strength previously observed with brief applications of BFR may have been mediated through an acute fluid shift induced increase in muscle size. This is supported by our finding that the changes in muscle thickness are maintained even after the cuffs have been removed.

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Authors: Riki Ogasawara, Robert S. Thiebaud, Jeremy P. Loenneke, Mark Loftin and Takashi Abe


The purpose of this study was to investigate the time course of hypertrophic adaptations in both the upper arm and trunk muscles following high-intensity bench press training. Seven previously untrained young men (aged 25±3 years) performed free-weight bench press training 3 days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) per week for 24 weeks. Training intensity and volume were set at 75% of one repetition maximum (1-RM) and 30 repetitions (3 sets of 10 repetitions, with 2–3 min of rest between sets), respectively. Muscle thickness (MTH) was measured using B-mode ultrasound at three sites: the biceps and triceps brachii and the pectoralis major. Measurements were taken a week prior to the start of training, before the training session on every Monday and 3 days after the final training session. Pairwise comparisons from baseline revealed that pectoralis major MTH significantly increased after week-1 (p=0.002), triceps MTH increased after week-5 (p=0.001) and 1-RM strength increased after week-3 (p=0.001) while no changes were observed in the biceps MTH from baseline. Significant muscle hypertrophy was observed earlier in the chest compared to that of the triceps. Our results indicate that the time course of the muscle hypertrophic response differs between the upper arm and chest.

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