Effects of Low-Load, Elastic Band Resistance Training Combined With Blood Flow Restriction on Muscle Size and Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Aug;70(8):950-8. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu084. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


We examined the effect of low-load, elastic band resistance training with blood flow restriction (BFR) on muscle size and arterial stiffness in older adults. Healthy older adults (aged 61-85 years) were divided into BFR training (BFR-T, n = 9) or non-BFR training (CON-T, n = 8) groups. Both groups performed low-load arm curl and triceps down exercises (four sets, total 75 repetitions for each) using an elastic band, 2 d/wk for 12 weeks. The BFR-T group wore inflated pneumatic elastic cuffs (120-270 mm Hg) on both arms during training. Magnetic resonance imaging-measured muscle cross-sectional area of the upper arm, maximum voluntary isometric contraction of the elbow flexors and extensors, cardio-ankle vascular index testing, and ankle-brachial pressure index were measured before and 3-5 days after the final training session. Muscle cross-sectional area of the elbow flexors (17.6%) and extensors (17.4%) increased, as did elbow flexion and elbow extension maximum voluntary isometric contraction (7.8% and 16.1%, respectively) improved (p < .05) in the BFR-T group, but not in the CON-T group. In cardio-ankle vascular index and ankle-brachial pressure index testing, there were no changes between pre- and post-results in either group. In conclusion, elastic band BFR-T improves muscle cross-sectional area as well as maximal muscle strength but does not negatively affect arterial stiffness in older adults.

Keywords: Electromyography; Muscle hypertrophy; Sarcopenia; Strength; Vascular occlusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Resistance Training*
  • Vascular Stiffness*