Resistance training with interval blood flow restriction effectively enhances intramuscular metabolic stress with less ischemic duration and discomfort

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019 Jul;44(7):759-764. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0321. Epub 2018 Dec 19.


Increases in muscle size and strength similar to those obtained with high resistance load can be achieved by combining lower loads with continuous blood flow restriction (BFR). However, high ratings for distress have been reported for continuous BFR. Therefore, we investigated the efficacy (metabolic stress) of BFR applied only during intervals in resistance exercise. Seven healthy men performed three 1-min sets of plantar flexion (30 reps/min) with 1-min rest intervals under 4 conditions: low-load resistance exercise (L, 20% 1-repetition maximum (1RM)) without BFR (L-noBFR), L with BFR during exercise sets (L-exBFR), L with BFR during rest intervals (L-intBFR), and L with continuous BFR during both exercise and rest intervals (L-conBFR). Based on the results of the first experiment, we performed additional protocols using a moderate load (M, 40% 1RM) with intermittent (exercise or rest intervals) BFR (M-exBFR and M-intBFR). Intramuscular metabolic stress, defined as decreases in phosphocreatine and intramuscular pH, was evaluated by 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Rated perceived exertion (RPE) was also assessed. At the end of exercise, total decreases in phosphocreatine and intramuscular pH were similar among L-noBFR, L-intBFR, and L-exBFR and significantly less than those in L-conBFR (p < 0.05). In contrast, changes in these variables in M-intBFR but not in M-exBFR were similar to those in L-conBFR. Nevertheless, RPE was lower in M-intBFR than in both M-exBFR and L-conBFR (p < 0.05). The effect of intermittent BFR during exercise might be insufficient to induce metabolic stress when using a low load. However, effective metabolic stress for muscle adaptation could be obtained by moderate-load resistance exercise with BFR during intervals with less ischemic duration and discomfort.

Keywords: P magnetic resonance spectroscopy; adaptation musculaire; blood flow restriction; exercice contre résistance; intramuscular metabolism; metabolic stress; muscle adaptation; métabolisme intramusculaire; resistance exercise; restriction du débit sanguin; spectroscopie par résonance magnétique P; stress métabolique.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ischemia
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Phosphocreatine / metabolism
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Phosphocreatine