Effects of resistance training combined with vascular occlusion or hypoxia on neuromuscular function in athletes

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Jul;113(7):1767-74. doi: 10.1007/s00421-013-2605-z. Epub 2013 Feb 15.


The aim was to investigate the effects of low-load resistant training combined with vascular occlusion or normobaric hypoxic exposure, on neuromuscular function. In a randomised controlled trial, well-trained athletes took part in a 5-week training of knee flexor/extensor muscles in which low-load resistant exercise (20% of one repetition maximum, 1-RM) was combined with either (1) an occlusion pressure of approximately 230 mmHg (KT, n = 10), (2) hypoxic air to generate an arterial blood oxygen saturation of ~80% (HT, n = 10), or (3) with no additional stimulus (CT, n = 10). Before and after training, participants completed the following tests: 3-s maximal voluntary contraction (MVC₃), 30-s MVC, and an endurance test (maximal number of repetitions at 20% 1-RM, Reps₂₀). Electromyographic activity (root mean square, RMS) was measured during tests and the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quadriceps and hamstrings was measured pre- and post-training. Relative to CT, KT, and HT showed likely increases in MVC₃ (11.0 ± 11.9 and 15.0 ± 13.1%, mean ± 90% confidence interval), MVC₃₀ (10.2 ± 9.0 and 18.3 ± 17.4%), and Reps₂₀ (28.9 ± 23.7 and 23.3 ± 24.0%). Compared to the CT group, CSA increased in the KT (7.6 ± 5.8) and HT groups (5.3 ± 3.0). KT had a large effect on RMS during MVC₃, compared to CT (effect size 0.8) and HT (effect size 0.8). We suspect hypoxic conditions created within the muscles during vascular occlusion and hypoxic training may play a key role in these performance enhancements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Resistance Training*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen