Concurrent improvements in aerobic capacity and muscle hypertrophy in response to a single mode of training have not been reported. We examined the effects of low-intensity cycle exercise training with and without blood flow restriction (BFR) on muscle size and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). A group of 19 young men (mean age ± SD: 23.0 ± 1.7 years) were allocated randomly into either a BFR-training group (n=9, BFR-training) or a non-BFR control training group (n=10, CON-training), both of which trained 3 days/wk for 8 wk. Training intensity and duration were 40% of VO2max and 15 min for the BFR-training group and 40% of VO2max and 45 min for the CON-training group. MRI-measured thigh and quadriceps muscle cross-sectional area and muscle volume increased by 3.4-5.1% (P < 0.01) and isometric knee extension strength tended to increase by 7.7% (p < 0.10) in the BFR-training group. There was no change in muscle size (~0.6%) and strength (~1.4%) in the CON-training group. Significant improvements in VO2max (6.4%) and exercise time until exhaustion (15.4%) were observed in the BFR-training group (p < 0.05) but not in the CON-training group (-0.1 and 3. 9%, respectively). The results suggest that low-intensity, short-duration cycling exercise combined with BFR improves both muscle hypertrophy and aerobic capacity concurrently in young men. Key pointsConcurrent improvements in aerobic capacity and muscle hypertrophy in response to a single mode of training have not been reported.In the present study, low-intensity (40% of VO2max) cycle training with BFR can elicit concurrent improvement in muscle hypertrophy and aerobic capacity.
Keywords: Aerobic exercise; Muscle hypertrophy; Muscle strength; Occlusion.