Low load resistance training (LLRT) with blood flow restriction (BFR) is a novel form of exercise that has been demonstrated to increase muscle mass and strength. Combined with the fact that as individuals age they lose both of these parameters, LLRT with BFR has been put forward as a method to help reverse/prevent the associated sarcopenia of ageing. This research investigated the effect the effect of LLRT with BFR on muscle strength firstly in younger people and then an older population group following 4 weeks of training. Muscle function measurements of young and old people included dynamic strength, identified as one repetition maximum (1 RM), isometric strength and isokinetic torque at a range of velocities (0.52 2.09 rad.s-1). Vascular adaptations were also measured using venous occlusion plethysmography to assess rest blood flow (Rbf) and post occlusive reactive hyperemia (PObf). The mechanisms behind any adaptations were measured following acute responses of plasma hormones and growth factors (cortisol, growth hormone (GH), insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) as well as local skeletal muscle gene expression (IGF-1Ea and MGF mRNA) to LLRT with BFR. LLRT with BFR increased (P < 0.05) all measurements of muscle strength by 13 30% in both young and older people. PObf was also increased (P < 0.05) following 4 weeks of LLRT with BFR in both population groups. Acute responses to LLRT with BFR identified an increase (P < 0.05) in GH and VEGF in older people. These are similar response to those seen in the young. Finally local gene expression of MGF mRNA was elevated (P < 0.05) 24 hours post LLRT with BFR in both young and older people. Any changes in muscle and blood flow adaptations may be as a result of increased hormones and growth factors at a circulation and local level.
Key words: Blood flow restriction, blood flow, muscle strength, growth hormone, IGF-1
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.