Effects of low-load resistance training combined with blood flow restriction or hypoxia on muscle function and performance in netball athletes

J Sci Med Sport. 2013 Jul;16(4):337-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2012.08.009. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Objectives: To investigate the effect of blood flow restriction or normobaric hypoxic exposure combined with low-load resistant exercise (LRE), on muscular strength and endurance.

Design: A randomised controlled trial.

Methods: Well-trained netball players (n=30) took part in a 5 weeks training of knee flexor and extensor muscles in which LRE (20% of one repetition maximum) was combined with (1) an occlusion pressure of approximately 230mmHg around the upper thigh (KT, n=10), (2) hypoxic air to generate blood oxyhaemoglobin levels of approximately 80% (HT, n=10) or (3) with no additional stimulus (CT, n=10). The training was of the same intensity and amount in all groups. One to five days before and after training, participants performed a series of strength and endurance tests of the lower limbs (3-s maximal voluntary contraction [MVC3], area under 30-s force curve [MVC30], number of repetitions at 20% 1RM [Reps201RM]). In addition, the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quadriceps and hamstrings were measured.

Results: Relative to CT, KT and HT increased MVC3 (11.0±11.9% and 15.0±13.1%), MVC30 (10.2±9.0% and 18.3±17.4%) and Reps201RM (28.9±23.7% and 23.3±24.0%, mean±90% confidence interval) after training. CSA increased by 6.6±4.5%, 6.1±5.1% and 2.9±2.7% in the KT, HT and CT groups respectively.

Conclusions: LRE in conjunction with KT or HT can provide substantial improvements in muscle strength and endurance and may be useful alternatives to traditional training practices.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia*
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sports / physiology
  • Young Adult