Objectives: To investigate the effect of blood flow restriction or normobaric hypoxic exposure combined with low-load resistant exercise (LRE), on muscular strength and endurance. Design: A randomised controlled trial. Methods: Well-trained netball players (n=30) took part in a 5 weeks training of knee flexor and extensor muscles in which LRE (20% of one repetition maximum) was combined with (1) an occlusion pressure of approximately 230mmHg around the upper thigh (KT, n=10), (2) hypoxic air to generate blood oxyhaemoglobin levels of approximately 80% (HT, n=10) or (3) with no additional stimulus (CT, n=10). The training was of the same intensity and amount in all groups. One to five days before and after training, participants performed a series of strength and endurance tests of the lower limbs (3-s maximal voluntary contraction [MVC3], area under 30-s force curve [MVC30], number of repetitions at 20% 1RM [Reps201RM]). In addition, the cross-sectional area (CSA) of the quadriceps and hamstrings were measured. Results: Relative to CT, KT and HT increased MVC3(11.0±11.9% and 15.0±13.1%), MVC30(10.2±9.0% and 18.3±17.4%) and Reps201RM (28.9±23.7% and 23.3±24.0%, mean±90% confidence interval) after training. CSA increased by 6.6±4.5%, 6.1±5.1% and 2.9±2.7% in the KT, HT and CT groups respectively. Conclusions: LRE in conjunction with KT or HT can provide substantial improvements in muscle strength and endurance and may be useful alternatives to traditional training practices. © 2012 Sports Medicine Australia.
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