Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The current protocols being used for Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) exercise did not examine the effects of different Initial Restrictive Pressures (pressure applied to limb by cuff prior to inflation, IRP) during design. There are several research articles highlighting the importance of IRP and how it can create variability in results. Therefore it is necessary to evaluate the current BFR protocol against different IRP in order to determine reliability. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of different blood flow restriction setting on 1) the level of blood lactate production, 2) neuromuscular activation (the changes in motor unit activation and median frequency), and 3) fatigue response during bilateral knee extension exercise. METHODS: Thirty-three male (age= 26.63 (5.8), n=17) and female (age= 22.76 (3.3), n=16) participants performed four sets of bilateral knee extensions on four separate occasions separated by at least 48 hours. Each session was randomized into the following conditions: IRP50@FRP+20, IRP65@FRP-20, IRP50 (Control), and IRP65. During each condition, blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), discomfort/pain (DF), and blood lactate were recorded throughout the study. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) was recorded pre and post exercise. Electromyography was recorded at the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris with a focus on motor unit activation (RMS) and muscle firing rate (MDF). RESULTS: No significant difference was found between conditions for BP, blood lactate or RPE. HR displayed a condition*gender interaction (p=0.022) and a trend for a condition*time interaction (p<0.06). IRP65@FRP-20 displayed a trend for increased levels of DF (p=0.062); it also produced significantly higher decreases in pre to post MVC in both males and females (p<0.023), showing a strong trend for a greater effect in males (p=0.055). IRP65@FRP-20 further displayed greater levels of overall motor recruitment in the vastus lateralis (p=0.024) as well as greater levels of motor recruitment throughout sets 2-4 in the vastus lateralis (p<0.01) and rectus femoris (p<0.01). CONCLUSION:IRP65@FRP-20 created greater variations amongst the variables compared to the Control, despite having a lower final restrictive pressure. This suggests that the current protocol may not be the most reliable method of BFR. Further research is needed to develop a protocol that takes IRP into account.

Granting Institution

University of Texas Brownsville



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