Int J Sports Med 2010; 31(1): 1-4
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1239499

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

A Mechanistic Approach to Blood Flow Occlusion

J. P. Loenneke1 , G. J. Wilson2 , J. M. Wilson3
  • 1Southeast Missouri State University, Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Cape Girardeau, United States
  • 2University of Illinois, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Champaign-Urbana, United States
  • 3Florida State University, Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Science, Tallahassee, United States
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision August 17, 2009

Publication Date:
02 November 2009 (online)


Low-Intensity occlusion training provides a unique beneficial training mode for promoting muscle hypertrophy. Training at intensities as low as 20% 1RM with moderate vascular occlusion results in muscle hypertrophy in as little as three weeks. The primary mechanisms by which occlusion training is thought to stimulate growth include, metabolic accumulation, which stimulates a subsequent increase in anabolic growth factors, fast-twitch fiber recruitment (FT), and increased protein synthesis through the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Heat shock proteins, Nitric oxide synthase-1 (NOS-1) and Myostatin have also been shown to be affected by an occlusion stimulus. In conclusion, low-intensity occlusion training appears to work through a variety of mechanisms. The research behind these mechanisms is incomplete thus far, and requires further examination, primarily to identify the actual metabolite responsible for the increase in GH with occlusion, and determine which mechanisms are associated to a greater degree with the hypertrophic/anti-catabolic changes seen with blood flow restriction.


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J. P. Loenneke

Southeast Missouri State University Health, Human Performance and Recreation

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63701 Cape Girardeau

United States

Phone: 573-450-2952

Fax: 573-651-5150