Kaatsu Training

Kaatsu Training

I feel like I must have been living under a rock not to have known about this until fairly recently. Kaatsu training, for those of you who are even further out of the loop than I am, involves applying a tourniquet of some sort (I believe that researchers use pneumatic tourniquets, similar to the cuffs that are placed on your arm when you get your blood pressure taken) to the proximal portion of one of your limbs to restrict blood flow (partially or fully) while you perform low intensity exercise. The interesting aspect of this type of training is that, despite the low intensity, gains in muscle mass are similar or even superior to those elicited by resistance training regimens designed to promote muscle hypertrophy.

A few of my friends that I have mentioned this to have all had similar responses: (1) they think that this type of training involves being lazy, (2) they are worried that restricting blood flow is dangerous, and (3) they recognize that the smaller forces utilized in Kaatsu Training produce gains in muscular strength, but would seemingly fail to adequately stress tendons and ligaments, thereby limiting the relevance of this type of training for athletes. I think objection 1 is unimportant, objection 2 is probably unwarranted for most healthy subjects, and objection 3 serves to show that Kaatsu Training could only serve a limited role within an athletes training regimen, if any at all.

My question to others on this board is, could this type of training serve a role in an athlete’s or bodybuilder’s training, and if so, in what capacity? I am not sure if anyone here (or anywhere for that matter) has enough information regarding Kaatsu training to be able to answer this question satisfactorily, but I am hoping that some knowledgeable individual might be able to offer some insight into the matter (or at least provide an interesting guess).

** Also, from the few articles I read concerning Kaatsu training, this was probably the most interesting tidbit:

“Another factor to consider is hormone action. Kraemer et al. (1990) have demonstrated that a sufficient amount of high-intensity exercise (approximately 6 sets at an intensity of about 80% 1RM for large muscle groups) carried out with an interset interval as short as 1 min transiently provokes more than a 100-fold increase in the plasma concentration of growth hormone (GH). Since such a dramatic increase in plasma GH concentration was not seen after exercise having a longer interset interval (3 min), it has been speculated that local accumulation of metabolites stimulates the hypophyseal secretion of GH. Our recent study with young male subjects also showed that low-intensity (20% 1RM) exercise with vascular occlusion of the lower extremities caused a 290-fold increase in the plasma concentration of GH, whereas no such effect was seen after the exercise without this occlusion (Takarada et al. 2000a). This stimulated secretion of GH may also play a part in the present effects of LIO.”

Source:

Effects of resistance exercise combined with vascular occlusion on muscle function in athletes
European Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue Volume 86, Number 4 / February, 2002
Pages 308-314
Yudai Takarada1, Yoshiaki Sato2 and Naokata Ishii1
(1) Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
(2) Sato Institute for Rehabilitation and Fitness, Tokyo 183, Japan

Kaatsu Training

Don't train your neck like that. Could be fatal.

Kaatsu Training

I've heard that it's complete baloney. Even if it could work, how do you isolate your chest or back with that type of training?

Kaatsu Training

If you look at the research on it (there's actually quite a lot!), there does seem to be a mild training effect. But like most, it's done on untrained participants. Plus, the proposed benefit is that you're getting an enhanced hypertrophy effect with low intensity exercise. Problem you don't get stronger from high reps with 20% of your max.

Kaatsu Training

I have looked at some of the research on the subject, but certainly not all of it- it is something I hadn't heard of until a couple weeks ago.

While most of the research appears to have been done on untrained groups, at least one study has been conducted on trained athletes. The results suggest that this type of training produces significant results in trained subjects and also that this type of training develops strength in addition to muscle mass. Here is the abstract:

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Feb;86(4):308-14.

Effects of resistance exercise combined with vascular occlusion on muscle function in athletes.

Takarada Y, Sato Y, Ishii N.

Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Komaba Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract: The effects of resistance exercise combined with vascular occlusion on muscle function were investigated in highly trained athletes. Elite rugby players (n = 17) took part in an 8 week study of exercise training of the knee extensor muscles, in which low-intensity [about 50% of one repetition maximum] exercise combined with an occlusion pressure of about 200 mmHg (LIO, n = 6), low-intensity exercise without the occlusion (LI, n = 6), and no exercise training (untrained control, n = 5) were included. The exercise in the LI group was of the same intensity and amount as in the LIO group. The LIO group showed a significantly larger increase in isokinetic knee extension torque than that in the other two groups (P < 0.05) at all the velocities studied. On the other hand, no significant difference was seen between LI and the control group. In the LIO group, the cross-sectional area of knee extensors increased significantly (P < 0.01), suggesting that the increase in knee extension strength was mainly caused by muscle hypertrophy. The dynamic endurance of knee extensors estimated from the decreases in mechanical work production and peak force after 50 repeated concentric contractions was also improved after LIO, whereas no significant change was observed in the LI and control groups. The results indicated that low-intensity resistance exercise causes, in almost fully trained athletes, increases in muscle size, strength and endurance, when combined with vascular occlusion.

Kaatsu Training

It's interesting. I'd be curious about the mechanism that causes the training effect. But unless there was a lot of major research done or it showed profound effects compared to traditional strength training, I won't be cinching down my belt twice as tight on leg day to cut off the circulation to my thighs during squats.

I wonder if the strength increase has to do at all with facial stretching due increased vasocongestion. You can literally stretch the facial sheath around a muscle and cause slight increases in strength and hypertrophy with post-exercises massage or "efflurage" (totally didn't spell that right). Maybe it's the same idea.

Kaatsu Training

From what little I have read, researchers do not seem to have elaborated on why or how Kaatsu training is effective in much detail. At least part of it seems to have to do with hormonal responses though. I am not nearly knowledgeable enough to evaluate your suggestion, but it sounds like it could be one of the factors involved.

Also, I certainly agree that it would be unwise for anyone to attempt this kind of training by applying an imprecise amount of pressure with a belt or surgical tubing or anything else that might be used as a tourniquet (especially if placed around the neck, lol). The most recent study I found on Kaatsu training*, reported that partial occlusion (at ~160 mm Hg) produced greater fatigue (and therefore possibly produced a greater training effect) than complete occlusion (at ~300 mm Hg). It is doubtful that anyone could appropriately apply the right amount of pressure to elicit optimal results and to train safely without using a specially designed pneumatic tourniquet.

Nor do I think this type of training should replace traditional strength training programs. When I asked about how this training might be used I had something along the following in mind. If an athlete is currently in the competitive season, he has to limit resistance training because working out too frequently or with too high a volume would require long recovery times and cause interference with other forms of training or even competition. But it seems conceivable to me, that if this type of training causes less muscular damage (because of the lower intensity involved) and therefore required less recovery time, an athlete could use this to put on mass or increase strength while also working on skill training and what not- whether this is true or not, I do not know- I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this particular possibility or other ways this kind of training might be beneficial to athletes, and not just people undergoing rehabilitation or floating around in zero-gravity.

*Effects of Exercise Load and Blood-Flow Restriction on Skeletal Muscle Function.
COOK, SUMMER B.; CLARK, BRIAN C.; PLOUTZ-SNYDER, LORI L.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
October 2007; pp. 1709-1713

Kaatsu Training

Y'all take my BREATH away!

Someone PLEASE break this stuff down!

Kaatsu Training

i would just email the kraemer guy and get his opinion on it, and why they use it, if you are interested in it.

Kaatsu Training

rob1 wrote:
i would just email the kraemer guy and get his opinion on it, and why they use it, if you are interested in it.

That's a really good idea- I am not sure why I didn't think of it. If I get a response from one of the researchers, I will be sure to share what I find out just in case anyone is interested.

Kaatsu Training

Dr. Squat wrote:
Someone PLEASE break this stuff down!

Disclaimer: I have neither performed nor witnessed Kaatsu training; I have only read a few articles about it.

That being said, here is my best attempt at breaking down my thoughts.

Kaatsu training involves cutting off the blood supply to a limb by restricting blood flow with a pneumatic tourniquet (a cuff that looks like the one used to take blood pressure, but not as wide). Studies have shown that people using this type of training put on similar amounts of muscle mass to those utilizing traditional bodybuilding programs (~80% 1RM intensity, high volume, shorter rest periods), even though this type of training demands using lower intensity (~20-50% 1RM). Additionally, some studies suggest that Kaatsu training also improves strength and endurance to a greater degree than low-intensity training alone (other studies have failed to find this effect). One of the reasons this training seems to work is that it causes a large spike in post workout growth hormone- according to one study, there was a 290-fold increase over baseline levels.

Previously, I thought this training might be useful for athletes on the grounds that the lower intensities would cause less muscle damage and thus require less recovery time between workouts. However, after doing some more reading, I found a study stating that this type of training is associated with “high acute pain ratings and delayed-onset muscle soreness.”* Hypothesis rejected.

*EFFECTS OF VASCULAR OCCLUSION ON MUSCULAR ENDURANCE IN DYNAMIC KNEE EXTENSION EXERCISE AT DIFFERENT SUBMAXIMAL LOADS.
Wernbom, Mathias; Augustsson, Jesper; Thomeé, Roland,
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
May 2006, Vol. 20, Issue 2, p. 372

Kaatsu Training

I should also note that the thing that's especially funny about all this is that there's a Japanese friend chicken dish called "Katsu" that's really phenomenal. So now every time I read the posts in this thread, all I can think of squatting while eating loads of Katsu.

Re: Kaatsu Training

Quote:
Kaatsu training, for those of you who are even further out of the loop than I am, involves applying a tourniquet of some sort (I believe that researchers use pneumatic tourniquets, similar to the cuffs that are placed on your arm when you get your blood pressure taken) to the proximal portion of one of your limbs to restrict blood flow (partially or fully) while you perform low intensity exercise. The interesting aspect of this type of training is that, despite the low intensity, gains in muscle mass are similar or even superior to those elicited by resistance training regimens designed to promote muscle hypertrophy.

My question to others on this board is, could this type of training serve a role in an athlete’s or bodybuilder’s training, and if so, in what capacity?

I believe it has a place in one's training.

KAATSU is also referred to as "Occlustion" Training. Occlusion because blood is being occluded, shut off, from the muscle via a torniquet.

A greater training effect is evoked when the muscle is deprived of blood and followed by a surge of blood. However, there are other method that appear to be just as effective.

When the muscle is under tension, blood flow is cut off. Thus, Chris Thibaudeau recommends performing a resistance movement of "never allowing the muscles to relax during the set (always flexing as hard as possible during every inch of every rep) with 50-60% of the maximum performed to failure, led to oxygen levels of 23-24%."
Source: Stimulate More Muscle Growth [http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1641547]

The constant tension on the muscle shutting down blood floow. Once the sete is complete, a blood surges to the muscle.

Another method that will "occlude" blood flow to the muscle is an isometric action. The constant tension of the muscle occludes blood flow. David Barr's "Anabolic Pump Training" goes into this. [http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1555945]

Barr also recommends the iscoemtric action be follow with low high reps with a light load.

"Once all heavy work on a muscle is completed, lighter sets are performed with higher reps. Because the muscle is already stressed by the first part of the workout, it's primed to receive the extra nutritive blood flow that the high reps will induce. "

"Low reps create the need while the high reps activate the feed."

I have found Barr's method to be quite effective.

Kenny Croxdale

kaatsu training

So let me get this right.

In the breakdown of this. Do you use this for only low intensity exercises or just high intensity exercises using short rest periods.

Of does it really matter.

Pumping Blood To The Muscles

RoraringMad Mac,

The primary goal of KAATSU Training/Occlusion Training is the "pump", flooding the muscles with blood.

KAATSU Training does this by first "damming up" (occluding/shuttind down) blood flow to the muscles. "Damming up" blood floow is the same as building a dam for water.

The Japanese's KAATSU Training method does this by using a tourniquet to shut off blood flow.

David Barr (Anabolic Pump) and Chris Thibadeau (Stimulate More Muscle Growth) provide a more orthodox approach to "damming up"/shutting down flood flow to the muscles, muscle contraction.

During a muscle contractions blood flow is shut down or restricted.

Thibaudeau's method maintains constant tension on the muscles by:

1) Never locking the muscles and resting at the top of a movement.

2) Never allowing any resting at the bottom of a movement.

As an example, in a bench press you never lock the weight out at the top nor do you allow it to touch your chest. This maintains constant tension on the muscle, which restricts blood flow.

Barr's method shuts down blood flow to the muscle by performing an isometric action. Again, constant tension on the muscle restricts blood flow to the muscle.

When the tournique (KAATSU Training) is removed or once the muscle contraction is stopped (Barr and Thibaudeau's method) the "dammed up" blood floods the muscle.

To increase the "dammed up" blood flow even more, a light set of high reps is performed with the same exercise.

Barr and Thibaudeau's articles provide you with much more information.

Kenny Croxdale

I guarantee it will never work if you never try it.

Kaatsu theories

The mechanism to why vascular occlussion training to low intensity exercise works is still not very clear, but there are a few theories

Some researchers say that it is a very neuronal response that has to do with the amount of effort it takes. This sense of effort is what stimulates the hypothalmus to produce many of the matabolites seen in muscle hypertrophy like Growth hormone. The increase in the sense of effort is what promotes growth in muscles with high resistance training.

other theories behind why the vascular occlusion may work is that the amount of occlussion is enough to slow the venous return and prevent local metabolites from leaving the tissue so quickly... this prolonged presence of metabolites may have an impact on the response of the muscles.

A big area that Kaatsu can be used is not only weight training but rehabilitation. For people who have injured their knees of ankles, this type of training is especially effective. It allows them to begin to hypertrophy the muscle without stressing the injured tendons and ligaments as much.