Comparisons Between Low-Intensity Resistance Training With Blood Flow Restriction and High-Intensity Resistance Training on Quadriceps Muscle Mass and Strength in Elderly

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Vechin, FC, Libardi, CA, Conceição, MS, Damas, FR, Lixandrão, ME, Berton, RPB, Tricoli, VAA, Roschel, HA, Cavaglieri, CR, Chacon-Mikahil, MPT, and Ugrinowitsch, C. Comparisons between low-intensity resistance training with blood flow restriction and high-intensity resistance training on quadriceps muscle mass and strength in elderly. J Strength Cond Res 29(4): 1071–1076, 2015—High-intensity resistance training (HRT) has been recommended to offset age-related loss in muscle strength and mass. However, part of the elderly population is often unable to exercise at high intensities. Alternatively, low-intensity resistance training with blood flow restriction (LRT-BFR) has emerged. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of LRT-BFR and HRT on quadriceps muscle strength and mass in elderly. Twenty-three elderly individuals, 14 men and 9 women (age, 64.04 ± 3.81 years; weight, 72.55 ± 16.52 kg; height, 163 ± 11 cm), undertook 12 weeks of training. Subjects were ranked according to their pretraining quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) values and then randomly allocated into one of the following groups: (a) control group, (b) HRT: 4 × 10 repetitions, 70–80% one repetition maximum (1RM), and (c) LRT-BFR: 4 sets (1 × 30 and 3 × 15 repetitions), 20–30% 1RM. The occlusion pressure was set at 50% of maximum tibial arterial pressure and sustained during the whole training session. Leg press 1RM and quadriceps CSA were evaluated at before and after training. A mixed-model analysis was performed, and the significance level was set at p ≤ 0.05. Both training regimes were effective in increasing pre- to post-training leg press 1RM (HRT: ∼54%, p < 0.001; LRT-BFR: ∼17%, p = 0.067) and quadriceps CSA (HRT: 7.9%, p < 0.001; LRT-BFR: 6.6%, p < 0.001); however, HRT seems to induce greater strength gains. In summary, LRT-BFR constitutes an important surrogate approach to HRT as an effective training method to induce gains in muscle strength and mass in elderly.

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