Andrew LeMense, Harrison Labanowski, Sam Gomez, John Lewis, Abby Fleming, Lee Winchester. University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that using blood blow restriction (BFR) cuffs can increase mean and peak velocity and power during high load (>65%1RM) bench press exercise. Past investigations, however, used methods that might not reflect a more a realistic usage of blood flow restriction such as: using high occlusion pressures, e.g., >80% arterial occlusion pressure (AOP), that may be too uncomfortable for prolonged use on the upper limbs, and or was only applied intermittently during only the sets or the inter-set rest periods. The purpose of this study therefore was to investigate the effects on power and velocity of a more moderate 50%AOP applied continuously during an acute high load bench press exercise. METHODS: 8 resistance trained males (age: 24.5 ± 4.9 yrs., wt.: 86.3 ± 10.3 kg, ht.: 180.1 ± 8.3 cm) completed 4 sets of 4 reps of the barbell bench press with 75%1RM, on two days separated by 7-14 days. One day the exercise was completed with BFR cuffs applied to both arms and inflated to 50%AOP, and a Control session without BFR. Mean and peak velocity (m/s) and power (W) were calculated by a GymAware Power Tool attached to one end of the barbell. The average value of the mean power (MP) and velocity (MV) for each set was recorded, while for peak power (PP) and velocity (PV) the highest value among the four reps was recorded. A series of two-way repeated measures ANOVAs (condition x set) with Bonferroni post hoc corrections were run for each of the four power and velocity variables. RESULTS: There were no significant (p>0.05) main effects for either ‘Condition’ (ηp2 range: 0.03-0.45) or ‘Set’ (partial eta squared (ηp2) range: 0.14-0.31), nor were there any significant simple main effects for ‘Condition x Set’ (p>0.05) (ηp2 range: 0.06-0.11). However, for MP, PP, and PV although not significantly different, the BFR condition produced greater power and velocity both on average and for each individual set compared to the Control condition, except for set 3 of PP where the control condition was greater. For MV, on the other hand, the Control condition produced higher velocities than the BFR condition. For both conditions power and velocity increased from set to set. CONCLUSION: Based on current data it appears that although BFR can increase power and velocity during high load bench press, this increase is not sufficiently large enough to be statistically different from not using BFR.

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