Effects of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise and Possible Applications in Type 2 Diabetes

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Feb;32(2):106-117. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2020.11.010.


Blood flow restriction resistance training (BFRT) employs partial vascular occlusion of exercising muscles via inflation cuffs. Compared with high-load resistance training, mechanical load is markedly reduced with BFRT, but induces similar gains in muscle mass and strength. BFRT is thus an effective training strategy for people with physical limitations. Recent research indicates that BFRT has beneficial effects on glucose and mitochondrial metabolism. BFRT may therefore qualify as a valuable exercise alternative for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D), a disorder characterized by impaired glucose metabolism, musculoskeletal decline, and exacerbated progression of sarcopenia. This review covers the effects of BFRT in healthy populations and in persons with impaired physical fitness, the mechanisms of action of this novel training modality, and possible applications for individuals with T2D.

Keywords: blood flow restriction training; muscle mass; muscle strength; resistance training; type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Circulation / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Resistance Training