For who? Working adults, mothers, retirees
For what? Strength, stamina, functional movement, balance, KAATSU Walking
The most common use of KAATSU equipment is during simple walking. KAATSU users put on their leg bands and simply do KAATSU Walking after a meal, while walking around the neighborhood or walking the dog. Either the KAATSU Cycle mode or the KAATSU Constant mode can be used, but you can walk longer in the KAATSU Cycle mode while the KAATSU Constant mode should be limited to 20 minutes.
Over 10 years ago, academic researchers from Japan confirmed what KAATSU Specialists have long known: that low-intensity exercise with KAATSU Air Bands leads to muscle growth and strength gains.*
Many researchers between 2000 – 2005 tested KAATSU Walking with MRI-measured muscle size and strength (maximum dynamic or one repetition maximum) and isometric strength along with blood hormonal parameters. Testing was done on both control groups and experimental groups of subjects ranging from young men to older women.
The testing was done using 20-minute bouts of treadmill speed of 50 meters per minute. The researchers found a multitude of benefits and changes among the experimental KAATSU users while there was no change in muscle size and dynamic and isometric strength in the control group..
- Serum growth hormone was elevated after KAATSU Walking with the experimental group, but not with the non-KAATSU control group.
- MRI-measured thigh muscle cross-sectional area and muscle volume increased by 4 – 7%.
- One repetition maximum and maximum isometric strength increased between 8 – 10%
Furthermore, indicators of muscle damage (creatine kinase and myoglobin) and resting anabolic hormones did not change with both groups. The researchers concluded that KAATSU Walking induces muscle hypertrophy and strength gain despite the minimum level of exercise intensity after 3 weeks, and that KAATSU Walking may be a potentially useful method for promoting muscle hypertrophy for a wide range of the population including the frail and elderly.
While these benefits have long been known in Japan, there have been many other applications that have since been developed and researched that address age-related skeletal muscle loss (sarcopenia) that inhibits mobility and increases the risk of developing several diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.
As the implications of KAATSU protocols began to be appreciated by the United States military, researchers like Dr. William Ursprung at Texas A&M University studied the effects of KAATSU Walking to improve aerobic capacity. Dr. Ursprung evaluated the effects of KAATSU Walking on VO2max, 1.5 mile run times, and muscular size at low training volumes and intensities with airman from the U.S. Air Force 350th Special Operations and Tactics Training Squadron.
After three weeks of KAATSU Walking, the test found significant improvements in VO2max, significant decreases in 1.5-mile run time, and significant increases in thigh muscle cross sectional area and the researchers concluded that KAATSU Walking represents a methodology for improving aerobic capacity, endurance and muscular size at low training volumes and intensities.
This conclusion mirrored the applications for KAATSU that many far forward-thinking coaches and trainers have known and used. For military personnel and athletes who are looking for concurrent improvements in strength and endurance, they do not always have to move, run, swim, cycle or row at maximum intensity if they strategically use KAATSU equipment.
While movement or exercises with KAATSU equipment performed with intensity will result in significant physiological and athletic improvement, it is always unnecessary.
“As long as their technique and athletic form is correct, athletes and military personnel can realize benefits with KAATSU by moving more slowly (i.e., walking versus running or swimming at a moderate pace versus swimming at maximum speed) rather than always going all-out,”
explains Steven Munatones.
“Perhaps this lowered intensity is appropriate after injuries or immediately after a competition or during a taper phase of training. Perhaps this slower pace or raw speed is simply more appropriate during different parts of any specific workout when an athlete is working on their technique or form.”
This phenomena means that the implications and applications of KAATSU usage expands significantly. When benefits and improvements can be achieved at any speed, pace or level of intensity, coaches and athletes can be much more flexible and creative in their training decisions.
For example, instead of only going all-out sprints with KAATSU, runners, cyclists, swimmers, rowers and skiers can practice at more moderate pace – which means that KAATSU can be done more frequently and with less resultant fatigue.
* Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, Kaatsu-walk training by Professor Abe and Professor Kearns of Tokyo Metropolitan University and Professor Sato of the University of Tokyo.
** The Effects of Blood Flow Restriction Training on VO2Max and 1.5 Mile Run Performance by William Ursprung, published in the International Journal of Exercise Science.