Efficacy of tourniquet ischemia for strength training with low resistance

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;77(1-2):189-91. doi: 10.1007/s004210050319.


To investigate the efficacy of ischemia in strength training with low mechanical stress, tourniquet ischemia was utilized in low-resistance training. Five untrained subjects conducted one-legged isometric knee extension training with one leg ischemic (I-leg) and the other non-ischemic (NI-leg). Repeated isometric contractions for 2 s with 3 s relaxation in between were continued for 3 min and conducted 3 days/week for 4 weeks as training. Training resistance was 40% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of respective leg and tourniquet ischemia was applied during I-leg training. MVC in I-leg after 2 weeks (9% gain) and 4 weeks (26% gain) were significantly higher than pre-training value (p < 0.05). A significant increase in maximal rate of torque development in I-leg was observed after 4 weeks (p < 0.05). On the contrary, there was no significant changes in either of the parameters in NI-leg. As a consequence, the differences between legs for both parameters were significant after 2 and 4 weeks (p < 0.05 or p < 0.01). The substantial gain in strength and maximal rate of torque development in I-leg demonstrated the efficacy of tourniquet ischemia during low-resistance training of short duration, and suggested the importance of neuromuscular and/or metabolic activity, other than high mechanical stress, to the adapting responses to strength training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia*
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tourniquets*
  • Weight-Bearing