KAATSU FAQs

What effect does KAATSU have on the body?

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Dr. Lyle Nalli, M.D. ,DPM, a doctor and a surgeon of podiatric medicine, uses KAATSU regularly and has experienced its benefits personally.

KAATSU has the effects similar to those healthful effects of vigorous exercise include muscle strengthening.

Is KAATSU a form of occlusion training?

No, KAATSU modifies blood flow patterns; it does not occlude blood flow.

What is occlusion training and why is it dangerous?

Occlusion training involves completely stopping blood flow into an extremity for substantial periods of time. It can damage arteries, nerves, muscles and veins and in some individuals, increase the risk of blood clots in both arteries and veins. Deep venous thromboses (DVT’s) can lead to pulmonary emboli, which can be fatal. Occlusion training can lead to rhabdomyolysis which can lead to kidney failure and possibly death.

What is the difference between occlusion training, blood flow restriction training and KAATSU?

The major difference between occlusion training or blood flow restriction training and KAATSU is that correct KAATSU modifies the pattern of blood flow, impeding and slowing down blood flow, but never occluding it.

What might prevent me from doing KAATSU?

You must first obtain the approval of your physician to begin KAATSU.  If you have various medical issues or are pregnant, we recommend that you first consult with your physician and then only do KAATSU using the proper equipment and strictly adhering to established KAATSU protocols.

I can easily wrap my own arms with bands or surgical tubing. I can do this very cheaply and I do not need any certification. Why spend the money on KAATSU?

With correct KAATSU training, we pay great attention to getting the pressures right. Too much pressure and one is doing unsafe occlusion training. Too little pressure and one will not get the benefits of KAATSU. The patented KAATSU bands are specifically designed to provide correct KAATSU. Surgical tourniquets, blood pressure cuffs, tubing or belts do not have these characteristics.

What is the appropriate level of pressure when doing KAATSU?

The Optimal KAATSU Pressure varies from day to day in the same individual and varies greatly from one individual to the next, depending on age, health and fitness level, size of extremities, hydration level and previous KAATSU experience. Therefore, it is important that Optimal Pressure be determined at the beginning of every KAATSU session.

What is the relationship between my blood pressure and the KAATSU pressure?

There is little relationship between your blood pressure and the KAATSU pressure. Your blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in your arteries deep inside your arm or leg. It is pulsatile in nature. When the heart contracts, the pressure in your arteries increases and then decreases when the heart relaxes. The pressure in the air bladder of a KAATSU Air Band is the KAATSU pressure. It is outside your extremity and far away from your arteries and deep veins. However, the KAATSU pressure is the force that modifies your circulation patterns by providing an impediment to venous return and arterial inflow.

Are there any potential harmful effects?

When KAATSU is performed correctly with proper equipment by a Certified KAATSU Specialist, there are no major complications and it is safe. However, when occlusion training is performed with makeshift equipment, it can be risky.

Can any method or equipment be used to restrict blood flow?

To perform KAATSU safely and effectively, one must use the proper, patented equipment and work with a Certified KAATSU Specialist.

Is it true that the effects of exercise are enhanced even with light resistance?

One of the 3 cardinal rules of KAATSU training is to use either no resistance or only very light weights. This does minimal damage to muscle, tendons, bones and joints, thus, allowing the anabolic stimulation to strengthen muscle, without having to repair damage done by heavy resistance.

What is the difference between KAATSU and normal resistance training?

KAATSU provides a more robust anabolic stimulation, in a shorter period of time, in a safer manner, than normal resistance training. Gains in fitness and strength are realized quicker with KAATSU training than normal resistance training.

What if I do not want to put on extra muscle?

You don’t have to put on extra muscle with KAATSU. It depends on your athletic and fitness goals. The changes to body composition that occur with KAATSU are also dependent on your diet and other types of training you perform. For example, a body builder can put on extra weight and muscle with KAATSU, while an endurance athlete will get stronger and leaner without appreciable gain in body weight.

How many times per week should I do KAATSU?

The KAATSU Cycle has been performed, as much as, 3 to 4 times per day to, as few as, twice per week. Typically, Baby Boomers perform three KAATSU sessions per week, where competitive athletes in their 20’s may perform up to 5 KAATSU sessions per week.

Can I use KAATSU even after an injury like a bone break or muscle tear?

Yes, under the direction of your physician and physical therapist.

How can I start KAATSU?

You can become a KAATSU Specialist by taking our online Certification course and passing the Certification exam. Once you have passed, you can order your own KAATSU Master, KAATSU Nano, KAATSU Air Bands and/or KAATSU Aqua Bands. When you receive the equipment, you are ready to enjoy the benefits of KAATSU Training.

What kind of equipment does KAATSU require?

We offer a KAATSU Master unit which inflates and regulates the band pressure, while making a record of the session. The KAATSU Master Unit is intended for the KAATSU Specialist who can “KAATSU” multiple people at the same time, throughout the day in a team training setting.

We offer the KAATSU Nano unit, which is intended to be used by an individual, while traveling, or away from a KAATSU clinic, KAATSU Kiosk or a KAATSU Specialist.

We offer KAATSU Cycle unit that identifies and monitors the safe and optimal pressure to focus on the KAATSU Cycle function for people of all ages and conditions.  It is ideal for individuals, travel, and home use.  The ultra-light, compact, battery-powered handheld unit can be used in group lessons at a gym or at home for personal use. 

We offer KAATSU Air Bands which are used to apply the KAATSU (additional pressure) needed to modify the circulation.

We also offer KAATSU Aqua Bands which allow KAATSU in an aquatic environment.

The KAATSU Specialist tells me to start KAATSU on my arms before my legs. Why?

Dr. Sato, the inventor of KAATSU, recommends starting with your arms. There is a higher density of nerves in the arms that may provide a more robust systemic KAATSU effect to initiate an adaptive response sooner. However, this is a recommendation and people may KAATSU their legs first, or KAATSU on their legs only, if they prefer.

Can you explain the KAATSU Cycle and why it is important?

The KAATSU Cycle is a series of repeated band inflation followed by band deflation. By cycling the pressure on and off, one provides the modified circulation without muscle contraction, thus, providing safe KAATSU in a setting where muscle contraction is contraindicated. The KAATSU Cycle may also be used to “flush out” the deep veins by alternating distension in the deep veins with band release and robust venous return. The KAATSU Cycle can also be used as a “warm up” for a standard KAATSU session.

If I want to do KAATSU only on my legs, what do you recommend?

Doing KAATSU on legs only is just fine. However, you will get a more robust systemic anabolic effect, if you also include a KAATSU arm session. The greater the percentage of your total body musculature that you get sending a signal of disturbed homeostasis to your brain, the more robust of an anabolic systemic response you will get.

How do I work my core with KAATSU?

If you incorporate the use of core muscles into your KAATSU exercises, they will enjoy the same adaptive responses as muscles that are distal to the KAATSU Air Bands. For example, if you do push-ups with KAATSU arm bands, not only do you stimulate development of your triceps, but also your pectoralis and core musculature, as you hold a good “plank” during the push-ups.

Is there a recommended period of time to do KAATSU?

No, not particularly, any time is a good time for KAATSU. However, you may enjoy your KAATSU session more, if you get on a regular schedule or don’t do it right after a large meal. In some people, if they do any exercise, including KAATSU, just before bedtime, they may not be able to sleep right away.

What types of exercises can you do with KAATSU?

You may do any light weight or partial body weight exercises with KAATSU. Dr. Sato recommends the KAATSU 3-point Exercises for beginners. Once these are mastered and you have become accustomed to KAATSU-ing, let your imagination take over and perform exercises that are most specific to the activities that you need to do in your lifestyle. For example, seniors may practice “chairs” (getting up from a seated position repeatedly) to become strong at rising up from a chair. Other examples would include cyclists, KAATSU-ing on a stationary bike or runners, running with leg bands on, or baseball players throwing with arm bands on, or skiers skiing with leg bands on.

When should you NOT do KAATSU?

One should wait 3 days after a general anesthetic before resuming KAATSU. Out of an abundance of caution, we do not recommend pregnant women to start KAATSU during pregnancy. One should definitely not do KAATSU when dehydrated. In this case, please rehydrate, then KAATSU.

I heard that no muscle fibers are torn while doing KAATSU without weights. If this is true, how do people get bigger and stronger with KAATSU?

Generally, light weights and concentric exercises do not damage muscle fibers, while heavy weights and eccentric exercise can damage muscle. The more damage done to a muscle, the longer it takes to repair that damage before moving on to build bigger and stronger muscles.

Does lactic acid have a role in KAATSU?

Yes, lactic acid is one of many factors that helps stimulates adaptation and growth of muscle. However, it is not a goal in and of itself to get high lactate levels in blood with KAATSU. Lactate levels increase in muscle fibers when the rate of glycolysis (breakdown of carbohydrates, glycogen and glucose) exceeds the rate of the mitochondria to process carbon fragments and oxygen. By limiting the circulation with KAATSU, we reduce the ability of the circulation to supply oxygen to the working tissue. This results in the onset of higher lactate concentrations earlier in a workout at lower absolute work levels.

If there are no micro tears in the muscles with KAATSU, what does the increase in lactic acid and subsequent secretion of Growth Hormones do?

Micro tears are not necessary to stimulate lactate production or Growth Hormone secretion. It is the disturbance of homeostasis that stimulates lactate production and Growth Hormone secretion and they, in turn, stimulate an anabolic response in exercising tissues.

Q. What is the risk of rhabdomyolysis from KAATSU?

There was a famous case in the occlusion training (or tourniquet training) community where a Norwegian ice hockey player experienced rhabdomyolysis. He was not doing KAATSU and did not use KAATSU equipment. Instead, he tightly occluded his blood flow to his limbs while lifting extremely heavy weights for a long period of time. It is unknown whether he was dehydrated or if he had a fever from an infection. KAATSU is not occlusion training or tourniquet training.

The KAATSU equipment is specifically designed not to occlude and not to be used for more than 20 minutes on the legs and 15 minutes on the arms, ideally performed without weights or heavy resistance. KAATSU equipment uses pneumatic bands that provide empirical data for the coach, trainer, physician, therapist, patient and athlete to understand and safely utilize in their training. Rhabdomyolysis is extremely rare and at a very low risk.

Rhabdomyolysis does not generally occur when individuals properly do KAATSU alone. Rhabdomyolysis would only occur if multiple other predisposing factors were present while KAATSU was performed in a grossly negligent manner (e.g., the KAATSU Air Band compression on the limbs was significantly above the mandated levels, heavy weights were used, and the maximum time periods were exceeded). Rhabdomyolysis is defined as major destruction of muscle fibers. There are many causes (see below). The intracellular contents are released into the circulation and are attempted to be cleared by the kidney. If the load of cellular debris is too great, renal failure ensues. If not treated, death follows. There are many causes of rhabdomyolysis. The most common causes include:

The conditions necessary for rhabdomyolysis due to KAATSU would be extreme and extremely rare and likely to include multiple other conditions that can cause rhabdomyolysis. In a national survey of KAATSU conducted in Japan, rhabdomyolysis occurred one time in a bone setter’s office among the 12,642 respondents. We don’t know what the circumstances were, but it is likely that several of the factors that can cause rhabdomyolysis occurred at the same time in that patient. However, if KAATSU protocols are adhered to, it is highly unlikely that rhabdomyolysis will occur. If blood flow is completely occluded for a prolonged period of time accompanied by near maximal eccentric exercise, this can cause tearing of muscle fiber membranes and if enough muscle fibers are torn, rhabdomyolysis can occur.

What is KAATSU Performance?

KAATSU Performance (www.KAATSUPerformance.com) is the worldwide participant database of KAATSU Global, Inc.  It is where KAATSU Specialists and KAATSU Clients can record and measure their performance in KAATSU Training.  It is also where you will find your KAATSU ID Number (KIN), which eventually becomes your KAATSU Specialist Number (KSN) when you pass the KAATSU Certification Exam.

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The KAATSU Performance database is where KAATSU Specialists and KAATSU Clients can record and measure their performance in KAATSU Training.

Once again, your 7-digit number KAATSU ID Number will eventually serve as your KAATSU Specialist ID Number. You can know what it is right now when you create your new user account at KAATSU Performance and log in to the site.The main reason why you want to obtain your unique, 7-digit KAATSU Specialist ID number is so that you can register and personalize your KAATSU equipment.  It is what you will need to input into your “SYSTEM SETTINGS.”SYSTEM SETTINGS is one of the actual touch-pad buttons on both the KAATSU Master and KAATSU Nano units. When you input your unique, 7-digit KAATSU Specialist ID number into the SYSTEM SETTINGS, you will be able to customize your device settings, and your name will be presented in the device display.  You will also be able to change and/or update the 4-digit pass code that is required in order to use the device.

You will be recognized as both the registered owner as well as the authorized user of your equipment.

In order for you to personalize your ownership of your equipment so that your name is displayed as the registered KAATSU Specialist (and authorized user) of that equipment, you will need to enter your 7-digit KAATSU Specialist ID Number.

You can literally know what your KAATSU Specialist Number (KSN) is going to be in less than 5 minutes, because you can obtain it right now at KAATSU Performance.  So go ahead and create your new user account at KAATSU Performance.

Click here to visit KAATSU Performance (www.KAATSUPerformance.com) and generate your own KAATSU Specialist Number in advance.

Who uses KAATSU?

KAATSU is safely and effectively used by athletes and non-athletes of every age, ability and background in Asia, Europe and the Americas in order to gain muscular strength, increase range of motion, and enhance sports performance.  Its products are used by Japanese, Chinese, and American Olympic gold medalists and world champions, professional athletes, collegiate student-athletes, high school athletes, military personnel, and individuals from all walks of life ranging between 4 and 104 years.

If I faint easily, can I do KAATSU?

Yes, if you faint easily, you might try KAATSU legs first before you try KAATSU arms. If the first time you try KAATSU and you feel light-headed, immediately let your KAATSU Specialist know. They my choose lower pressures or a more gradual introduction of pressure.

Does KAATSU mean anything?

KAATSU means “additional pressure” in Japanese. Its Japanese kanji characters look like this: 加圧.

How long as KAATSU been around?

KAATSU was invented in Japan in 1966 and perfected by 1973 by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato. 

Is KAATSU patented?

KAATSU equipment and protocols are protected by 47 patents.

What is most misunderstood about KAATSU?

Probably, the most misunderstood (and potentially risky) thing that people think about KAATSU, is that it is same thing as occlusion training. In fact, KAATSU is much different than occlusion training.

MISUNDERSTANDING #1: KAATSU Air Bands are tourniquets that cut off blood supply.

See the difference between KAATSU and occlusion training.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #2: KAATSU Air Bands will cause a heart attack.

KAATSU places very little extra strain on the heart. In fact, KAATSU is used in cardiac rehabilitation in Japan.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #3: KAATSU pressure cannot go over your systolic (or diastolic) number.

The pressure in the KAATSU band is only loosely related to blood pressure. The pressure in the KAATSU band is adjusted such that muscle contraction overcomes the venous impediment.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #4: KAATSU Air Bands are dangerous and should not be used.

Over 300,000 KAATSU daily users in Japan and its decades-long safety record prove otherwise.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #5: KAATSU Air Bands will lead to pulmonary embolisms or blood clots.

If KAATSU is not performed according to the standard KAATSU protocols as defined by its inventor Dr. Sato, it can be dangerous. If mistakenly, an individual occludes blood flow for a substantial time, blood clots and pulmonary embolisms can occur. This is why it is important to take the Certification Course to learn how to strictly follow KAATSU protocols at all times.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #6: I have seen KAATSU before on television; they are bands to make you skinny.

KAATSU can help improve one’s strength and fitness. Depending on diet and other exercise you may very well become leaner.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #7: I can easily make KAATSU Air Bands.

KAATSU Air Bands are patent protected and the internal construction is very specific to adhere to the highest safety standards. There are many subtle features, learned over 40 years of application, which insure both safe and effective KAATSU.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #8: KAATSU caused the injury of a Norwegian ice hockey player.

The Norwegian hockey player did not use any KAATSU equipment and broke the most fundamental rules of KAATSU. He used the Delfi Personalized Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction (BFR).  As a result of his actions, he suffered rhabdomyalisis.  His case was documented in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, May 2010 – Volume 20 – Issue 3 – pp 218-219, (Low-Load Ischemic Exercise-Inducted Rhabdomyolysis by Erik Iversen, PT, MSc, and Vibeke Rastad, PT, MSc.)  The published article is here.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #9: I have seen KAATSU done in my local gym.

It will be coming soon to locations in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.

 

MISUNDERSTANDING #10: KAATSU is a gimmick. I can do that.

KAATSU is not a gimmick. It recreates the situation to adapt to exercise quickly, yet little damage is done to the muscle.

What are the products offered by KAATSU Global?

KAATSU Global, headquartered in Huntington Beach, California, offers the KAATSU Master, KAATSU Nano, KAATSU Cycle, KAATSU Air Bands, and an online certification program for KAATSU Specialists.

The KAATSU Master identifies and monitors the safe and optimal pressure to do KAATSU training and recovery.  It is ideal for groups, corporations and teams. The portable, battery-powered robust unit can store training data up to 200 individual KAATSU sessions for 300 individuals.

The KAATSU Nano identifies and monitors the safe and optimal pressure to do KAATSU training and recovery.  It is ideal for individuals, travel, and home use.  The ultra-light, compact, battery-powered handheld unit can store individual training data and show downloadable educational and inspirational videos.

The KAATSU Air Bands are used interchangeably with both the KAATSU Master and KAATSU Nano.  The pneumatic Air Bands generate individual training data via sensors and can be detached from the units for freedom of motion.  The KAATSU Air Bands can be washed with a damp cloth, are comfortable, and come in 3 sizes: small, medium and large to fit every body.

 

There are 3 basic levels of KAATSU:

LEVEL ONE:

The KAATSU Cycle is a convenient form of blood flow moderation activity that requires no physical movement. It can be done anywhere (e.g., office cubicles, airplane seats, sofas at home, desks at school) anytime (e.g., before or after workouts) on the arms and separately on the legs. The full KAATSU Cycle is completed within 3 minutes 20 seconds and can be repeated as desired. KAATSU Cycle helps relieve stress and results in an elevated energy levels.

LEVEL TWO:

The KAATSU 3-point Exercise is a highly-efficient form of blood flow moderation exercise for both the arms and legs. It can be done anywhere anytime and involves 3 sets of hand clenches, bicep curls and tricep extensions on the arms, and toe curls, toe raises, and heel raises on the legs. Individuals of all ages and abilities can go to muscle exhaustion within minutes without use of weights.

LEVEL THREE:

KAATSU Training is the most intense form of full body blood flow moderation exercise. It can be done anywhere anytime and involves a full range of movements used in physical therapy or sports specific activities. Individuals of all ages and abilities, from beginners to professionals, can go to muscle exhaustion within minutes without use of weights. KAATSU Training results in no soreness and elevated energy levels.

What size of KAATSU Air Bands should you use?

KAATSU Air Bands are available in 3 sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Measure the circumference of the top of your arm (right by your armpit) and the circumference of the top of your leg (right alongside your groin). Those circumferences will determine the appropriate size for your KAATSU Air Bands.

ARMS

Small: 18 〜 28 cm (7.06 〜 11.02 inches) Medium: 28 〜 38 cm (11.02 〜 14.96 inches) Large: 38 〜 48 cm (14.96 〜 18.89 inches)

LEGS

Small: 40 〜 50 cm (15.74 〜 19.68 inches) Medium: 50 〜 60 cm (19.68 〜 23.62 inches) Large: 60 〜 70 cm (23.62 〜 27.55 inches) If you exceed 48 cm in circumference on your upper arms or 70 cm in circumference on your upper legs, then special order KAATSU Air Bands are recommended.

Q. Some researchers use between 20-30% of 1RM and sometimes as high as 50% of 1RM. How much of your 1RM could be used with KAATSU? Is it appropriate to use resistance that is greater than 50% 1RM when doing KAATSU?

A. Describing weight lifting as a percentage of 1RM is a poor way to describe load. One Repetition Maxes (1RM) are difficult to measure accurately and change almost daily. One of the principles of KAATSU Training is that light weight loads or resistances are used when the KAATSU Air Bands are being used. Light loads or resistance means something that is easy to do or something where many repetitions can be done without the KAATSU Air Bands. Arm curls with 2-5 lbs (1-2 kg) barbells is a good example of a light KAATSU exercise. Any calisthenics where partial body weight is moved are also good examples of KAATSU exercises.

Q. Does KAATSU have an effect on blood pressure, especially over a 12-week period?

A. KAATSU Training or any regular exercise will not change blood pressure if it is already normal.  12 weeks of any regular exercise program will lower blood pressure over time in someone with high blood pressure.

Q. Is specialized knowledge about physiology required to become a KAATSU Specialist?

A. The more knowledge a KAATSU Specialist possesses, particularly in the areas of coaching, training, rehabilitation and physiology, the better the KAATSU Specialist will be.  We hope to convey necessary principles in the KAATSU Certification Course, but we recommend that those who wish to become a KAATSU Specialist have some education and experience in coaching and training.

Q. Is it useful to simultaneously use the KAATSU Air Bands on your arms and legs?

A. KAATSU Air Bands should never be simultaneously used on your arms and legs.  With KAATSU Air Bands, we attempt to impede the circulation and produce muscle fatigue in the muscle involved.  To do that safely, we focus on one group of muscles at a time.  

Q. What are the side effects of KAATSU Cycle?

A. We are unaware of any negative side effects from KAATSU Cycle, when KAATSU Cycle is done according to the standard KAATSU protocols, first invented in 1973.

Q. What are the contraindications to KAATSU Cycle?

A. The contraindications to KAATSU Cycle, when done according to the standard KAATSU protocols, are situations where the person needs to be in a hospital or emergency room. For example, angina, hypertensive crisis, or cerebral vascular accident. If someone has an active, uncontrolled, soft tissue infection or active thrombotic disease, they should seek medical care and should postpone their KAATSU Cycle.

Q. What is the best way to start KAATSU?

A. KAATSU Cycle is an easy, convenient and comfortable way to begin a KAATSU training because the KAATSU Cycle is easy, convenient, automatic, and very safe to do. The KAATSU Cycle does not require significant levels of effort or induce high levels of discomfort. KAATSU Cycle can be done sitting down at a work desk, sofa or any sitting position while at work, school, home or travel. It can be habit-forming and a catalyst to do more vigorous KAATSU Training.

Where else can I find KAATSU information online?

Website: www.kaatsu-global.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kaatsu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KAATSUGlobal

KAATSU Special Report

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