- Based on auscultation measurements after exercise, circuit weight training in cardiac patients has been reported to provoke minimal increases in systolic pressure. Direct (brachial artery catheter) and indirect (sphygmomanometry) measures of blood pressure were compared at rest, during lifting with the legs (approximately the fourth, ninth and fourteenth repetition) and during 2 minutes of recovery after lifting with the arms and legs. Subjects performed 15 repetitions of single-arm curl, single-arm military press and single- and double-leg press exercises at 40 and 60% of the maximum load that could be lifted once on a multistation weightlifting apparatus. Indirect measures of systolic pressure at rest were 13% less than those recorded directly (130 +/- 7 vs 149 +/- 8 torr; p less than 0.01); diastolic pressures were similar using either method. This pattern was maintained during lifting with the legs at both intensities, and after exercise with both the legs and the arms. The mean systolic pressure recorded indirectly immediately after exercise was 63 torr (31%) and 76 torr (34%) less than the average peak intraarterial value recorded during leg and arm exercises, respectively. The highest intraarterial pressures were generated during the final repetitions of the set; immediately after the last repetition, both systolic and diastolic pressures rapidly decreased. It is concluded that indirect estimates of systolic pressure are significantly less than true arterial values at rest, and during and after lifting. Moreover, indirect measurements after lifting do not allow accurate conclusions to be drawn about the arterial pressures generated during lifting because of the rapid decrease in pressure that occurs after exercise.