It goes without saying that pushing heavy stacks of plates is going to have an effect on your heart rate and blood pressure. And it makes sense that the impact will vary between upper and lower body exercises as well as for unilateral and bilateral movements. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looks at these differences using 15 men with weight room experience.
Subjects performed 3 sets of 10 reps biceps curls, barbell rows and knee extensions using 80% of their 10 rep max. Each exercise was performed bilaterally, unilaterally and with alternating limbs. Heart rate and blood pressure increased significantly from pre- to post-workout. There was a greater cardiovascular response for upper body exercises compared to lower body movements and for bilateral compared to unilateral.