Influence of relative blood flow restriction pressure on muscle activation and muscle adaptation.Muscle Nerve. 2016 Mar; 53(3):438-45.MN
The aim of this study was to investigate the acute and chronic skeletal muscle response to differing levels of blood flow restriction (BFR) pressure.
Fourteen participants completed elbow flexion exercise with pressures from 40% to 90% of arterial occlusion. Pre/post torque measurements and electromyographic (EMG) amplitude of each set were quantified for each condition. This was followed by a separate 8-week training study of the effect of high (90% arterial occlusion) and low (40% arterial occlusion) pressure on muscle size and function.
For the acute study, decreases in torque were similar between pressures [-15.5 (5.9) Nm, P = 0.344]. For amplitude of the first 3 and last 3 reps there was a time effect. After training, increases in muscle size (10%), peak isotonic strength (18%), peak isokinetic torque (180°/s = 23%, 60°/s = 11%), and muscular endurance (62%) changed similarly between pressures.
We suggest that higher relative pressures may not be necessary when exercising under BFR.