Purpose: This study investigated whether muscle hypertrophy-promoting effects are cross-transferred in resistance training with blood flow restriction, which has been shown to evoke strong endocrine activation.
Methods: Fifteen untrained men were randomly assigned into the occlusive training group (OCC, N = 8) and the normal training group (NOR, N = 7). Both groups performed the same unilateral arm exercise (arm curl) at 50% of one-repetition maximum (1RM) without occlusion (three sets, 10 repetitions). Either the dominant or nondominant arm was randomly chosen to be trained (OCC-T, NOR-T) or to serve as a control (OCC-C, NOR-C). After the arm exercise, OCC performed leg exercise with blood flow restriction (30% of 1RM, three sets, 15-30 repetitions), whereas NOR performed the same leg exercise without occlusion. The training session was performed twice a week for 10 wk. In a separate set of experiments, acute changes in blood hormone concentrations were measured after the same leg exercises with (N = 5) and without (N = 5) occlusion.
Results: Cross-sectional area (CSA) and isometric torque of elbow flexor muscles increased significantly in OCC-T, whereas no significant changes were observed in OCC-C, NOR-T, and NOR-C. CSA and isometric torque of thigh muscles increased significantly in OCC, whereas no significant changes were observed in NOR. Noradrenaline concentration showed a significantly larger increase after leg exercise with occlusion than after exercises without occlusion, though growth hormone and testosterone concentrations did not show significant differences between these two types of exercises.
Conclusion: The results indicate that low-intensity resistance training increases muscular size and strength when combined with resistance exercise with blood flow restriction for other muscle groups. It was suggested that any circulating factor(s) was involved in this remote effect of exercise on muscular size.