Blood-flow restriction is associated with more even pacing during high-intensity cycling
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Human Performance
Purpose: This study examined the influence of blood-flow restriction (BFR) on the distribution of pace, physiological demands, and perceptual responses during self-paced cycling. Methods: On separate days, 12 endurance cyclists/triathletes were instructed to produce the greatest average power output during 8-minute self-paced cycling trials with BFR (60% arterial occlusion pressure) or without restriction (CON). Power output and cardiorespiratory variables were measured continuously. Perceived exertion, muscular discomfort, and cuff pain were recorded every 2 minutes. Results: Linear regression analysis of the power output slope was statistically significant (ie, deviated from the intercept) for CON (2.7 [3.2] W 30 s−1; P = .009) but not for BFR (−0.1 [3.1] W 30 s−1; P = .952). Absolute power output was ∼24% (12%) lower at all time points (P < .001) during BFR compared with CON. Oxygen consumption (18% [12%]; P < .001), heart rate (7% [9%]; P < .001), and perceived exertion (8% [21%]; P = .008) were reduced during BFR compared with CON, whereas muscular discomfort (25% [35%]; P = .003) was greater. Cuff pain was rated as “strong” (5.3 [1.8] au; 0–10 scale) for BFR. Conclusion: Trained cyclists adopted a more even distribution of pace when BFR was applied compared with a negative distribution during CON. By presenting a unique combination of physiological and perceptual responses, BFR is a useful tool to understand how the distribution of pace is self-regulated.