Preprint / Version 1

Adaptations to Low–Load Resistance Training with Blood-Flow Restriction

A Pilot Study


  • Lewis J Macgregor University of Stirling
  • Valerio Biancone



Blood flow restriction, Resistance training, strength, hypertrophy, Tensiomyography


Purpose: To assess early adaptations in strength, hypertrophy, and muscle contractile properties to resistance exercise using low loads with blood-flow restriction (BFR) compared to high loads, among novice resistance exercisers.
Methods: A convenience sample of seven healthy-active, but non-resistance trained individuals completed seven training sessions involving unilateral leg press and leg extension. One leg was trained using low-load (40% of 1-RM) with BFR, the other was trained using high-load (80% of 1-RM). Pre- and post-training: 1-RM leg press and leg extension, and MVC knee extension were measured to assess strength; and thigh circumference and volume were measured to estimate quadriceps mass. Tensiomyography was used to measure muscle stiffness and contraction velocity of vastus lateralis pre-, mid- (before the fourth training session), and post-training.
Results: Leg extension 1-RM (P = 0.001), knee extension MVC (P = 0.019), and thigh circumference (P = 0.001) and volume (P = 0.001) increased following both resistance training conditions. Leg press 1-RM (P = 0.103) and vastus lateralis stiffness (P = 0.483) and contraction velocity (P = 0.585) did not change with training. There were no differences between conditions nor interactions between condition and time for any variable.
Conclusion: Seven resistance training sessions increased strength and markers of muscle mass. Greater relative demand of leg extension exercise may explain the improved 1-RM and knee extension MVC observed, while leg press 1-RM remained unchanged. Similar early adaptations to resistance exercise may be achieved using relatively low loads accompanied by BFR. These findings may be useful in instances when exercising with higher loads is undesirable.


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