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Blood flow restricted resistance exercise (BFR-RE) is a novel method that is effective at increasing strength and hypertrophy using much lower loads than the higher loads typical in progressive resistance exercise. However, the effects of BFR-RE on skeletal muscle fatigue, mitochondrial response, and activation are still being explored. This dissertation will discuss the impacts of BFR-RE, how it affects college-aged individuals that are trained and untrained, and the effects of BFR-RE on skeletal muscle fatigue, mitochondrial response, and activation.

The first study examined the effects of 6-weeks of low load blood flow restricted resistance exercise (LLBFR) on muscular strength, mass, and mitochondrial response. These measures were compared to low load resistance exercise (LLRE) and a control group. In the LLBFR group, there were significant increases in knee extension strength, power, and bone-free lean mass. There was an increase in leg press strength for the LLRE group and a trend to increased knee extension strength. Although there were no increases in mitochondrial response for either group, the LLRE group did see a trend. These results suggest that LLBFR effectively increases strength, endurance, and muscular hypertrophy.

The second study examined the differences between trained and untrained individuals’ muscular activation and fatigue rates during and after two different intensities of acute bouts of BFR-RE compared to a bout of HLRE. We saw significant decreases in MVIC in the trained group after HLRE and LLBFR 30sec post exercise that returned to baseline at 90sec. The untrained participants had a significant decrease in their MVIC 90sec after the HLRE condition. The trained participants had greater pre-exercise activation than the untrained participants and in the HLRE and LLBFR conditions post-exercise and remained for the 90sec mark. The untrained participants had a decrease in muscle activation at the 90sec time point for the MLBFR condition. In pooled data, muscle activation was significantly lower after all 3 conditions at 30sec and 90sec post-exercise. Our data showed that relative activation is lower in the LLBFR condition than in HLRE and MLBFR. This suggests that LLBFR may not initiate neural activation as much as HLRE or MLBFR.



Committee Chair

Irving, Brian A.

Available for download on Sunday, July 05, 2026