High-altitude Training and Recovery with KAATSU

High-altitude Training and Recovery with KAATSU

How can KAATSU equipment and protocols be used to help athletes prepare for high-altitude sporting events, competitions or feats?

Three primary ways:

(1) Performance: increase the elasticity of their vascular issue

(2) Restoration or Rejuvenation: enhance and accelerate recovery from training and the event itself – whether it is a day of climbing to a summit, a competitive or recreational run at high altitude, or cycling through mountains

(3) Prehabilitation or Rehabilitation: rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries or muscle strains, prevention of shin splits, or various blisters or sores

What are the specific protocols for (1) Performance, (2) Restoration or Rejuvenation, and (3) Prehabilitation or Rehabilitation?


  • Do 3-6 KAATSU Cycle sets during 1-2 sessions per day while at rest (e.g., relaxing after a workout or while sitting at your office working or walking your dog after work). This is in addition to and meant to augment your physical training and normal workouts, but is not meant to be intense.
  • Do 3-6 KAATSU Cycle sets starting at Low Pressure and then progressively to Medium Pressure and subsequently to High Pressure as you practice your sport or particular activity.
  • Do KAATSU Constant sets starting at Low Pressure, then progressively to Medium Pressure, and subsequently to High Pressure as you practice your sport or particular activity.
  • The top four photos on left show athletes performing different exercises and specific athletic movements at high altitude with their KAATSU Air Bands on.

Restoration or Rejuvenation

  • Do 3-6 KAATSU Cycle sets immediately after your physical training and intense workouts while you are sitting down and relaxing post-workout.
  • Hydrate well before and during these sets.
  • Some athletes prefer starting at Low Pressure, then progressively to Medium Pressure, and subsequently to High Pressure. Other athletes prefer the opposite progression; that is, they start at High Pressure, then progress to Medium Pressure, and then to Low Pressure. Meanwhile, other athletes prefer to stay at the same pressure, whether it is Low, Medium, High, or a Customized Pressure. These customized individual preferences can be experimented and decided upon each athlete.
  • The bottom three photos on the left show different types of athletes – from cross-country skiers to ultramarathon runners – sitting down post-workout or post-competition doing KAATSU Recovery Cycle sets.

Prehabilitation or Rehabilitation

  • Similar to athletes who compete at or closer to sea level, the typical KAATSU prehab or rehabilitation protocols should be used by athletes who perform at high altitude.
  • However, in general, the pressures used in the KAATSU Air Bands at high altitude are somewhat or significantly lower than at sea level. This will depend on the athlete and their level of fitness and experience with KAATSU – or any type of BFR (Blood Flow Restriction).

That is, the more fit and the more experience with KAATSU an athlete is, the greater the pressure can be. Similarly, the more intense and longer the KAATSU sessions can be for fitter, more experienced athletes.

Conversely, the less fit and the less experienced with KAATSU an athlete is, the lower the pressure should be. Similarly, the less intense and shorter the KAATSU sessions should be for less fit, less experienced athletes.

In particular, horizontal exercises – like push-ups or swimming freestyle in a pool – should use significantly lower pressure at high altitude compared to at sea level.

Athletes should also and always be well hydrated while doing KAATSU, either at sea level, but especially at high altitudes.

For those athletes will blisters or sores on their hands or feet can do KAATSU Cycle sets before and after their workouts.

There are other tips and hints that experienced KAATSU Master Specialists know from decades of experience and observations garnered from long-time Japanese KAATSU Specialists that were used since the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games:

  • If the blisters or sores are only one one side of the body, then the athlete should put the KAATSU Air Bands on the injured side only – and proceed with the progressive KAATSU Cycle sets on that side.
  • If the athletes are competing in a multi-day extreme sporting event (e.g., a long-distance ride, a multi-day run or multi-stage swim or triathlon, a mountain summit, or kayaking across a high-altitude lake), then doing a nighttime session of KAATSU Cycle sets is critically important. This session should be performed within an hour of going to bed, and will help improve sleep quality.
  • After a bout of exercise, an intense workout, or competition is completed at high altitude, the sooner Progressive KAATSU Cycle sets are started, the better.
  • Rehdyration after a workout or competition should be done gradually; that is, take repeated small sips of water or replacement fluids in order to help augment the benefits of Progressive KAATSU Cycle sets.