SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards - Dawson Nancekievill

Author: Andrea

Posted on Jan 11, 2023

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of: Dawson Nancekievill 

Award Received: CIHR Canada Graduate Student Master’s Award

Awarded for the project: Impact of Exercise with Blood Flow Restriction on Muscle Hypertrophy and Functional Outcomes in Men and Women

Faculty: Kinesiology

Project supervised by: Dr. Martin Sénéchal


Believe it or not, weight training with less than half the load used in traditional weight training may still lead to similar improvements in muscle mass and strength. Blood flow restriction training (BFRT) has been previously researched as an alternative form of resistance training to build muscle and improve functional health outcomes. BFRT consists of weight training at very light loads, while partially reducing the blood flow to the exercising muscles using inflatable, Velcro bands placed around the arms and legs. It is believed that by reducing the blood flow in to and out of the muscles, we put an exceptional amount of metabolic stress on the cells, not typically seen when exercising with such light loads, leading to improvement. Better understanding BFRT will allow us to better prescribe exercise in a variety of populations: post-surgery rehabilitation, high performance sport, and the combat of chronic disease.

Before I began this research, I started in the Cardiometabolic Exercise and Lifestyle Laboratory several years ago by assisting a former Ph.D. student with his project. I then assisted in implementing a province-wide exercise program for frail older adults living with Type 2 Diabetes, and now as a master’s student I am the project coordinator for the Blood Flow Restriction Study. In order to effectively implement BFRT, we need to understand how people respond to this training method. However, in studies of long-term and short-term BFRT, only 29% and 17%, respectively, of all research participants have been female. This highlights a drastic underrepresentation of females in the literature. Currently I am still recruiting adults between the ages of 19-30 years that are not regularly physically active to participate in my research. Interestingly, the hardest population to recruit so far has not been young adult females, but young adult males. There is no justification for exclusion of young women from BFRT research, and the objective of this research is to add to a slowly growing body of literature regarding how men and women respond to BFRT. The relevance of this is that it will guide future research investigating sex differences and allow for more specific prescription of BFRT in the female population.