The effects of low-intensity resistance training with vascular restriction on leg muscle strength in older men

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jan;108(1):147-55. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-1204-5. Epub 2009 Sep 18.


The purpose of this study was to investigate and compare the effects of two types of resistance training protocols on the adaptation of skeletal muscle strength in older men. Thirty-seven healthy male subjects (50-64 years) participated in this study. Subjects were assigned to one of three groups: high-intensity (80% 1-RM) resistance training (RT80); low-intensity (20% 1-RM) resistance training with vascular restriction (VR-RT20); and a control group (CON) that performed no exercise. Subjects in both exercise groups performed three upper body (at 80% 1-RM) and two lower body exercises either with (20% 1-RM) or without (80% 1-RM) vascular restriction three times a week for 6 weeks. As expected, the RT80 and VR-RT20 groups had significantly (p < 0.01) greater strength increases in all upper body and leg press exercises compared with CON, however, absolute strength gains for the RT80 and VR-RT20 groups were similar (p > 0.05). It should be noted that the percentage increase in leg extension strength for the RT80 group was significantly greater than that for both the VR-RT20 (p < 0.05) and CON groups (p < 0.01), while the percentage increase in leg extension strength for the VR-RT20 group was significantly (p < 0.01) greater than that for the CON. The findings suggested that leg muscle strength improves with the low-load vascular restriction training and the VR-RT20 training protocol was almost as effective as the RT80 training protocol for increasing muscular strength in older men.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Contraindications
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Weight Lifting / physiology