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What is KAATSU Training?

KAATSU is the original Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training device, which has since been copied by many manufacturers over the years. BFR training, in general, uses bands placed around the upper arms or upper legs at a mild tightness that allows normal blood flow to working muscles but slightly modifies blood flow return. This can amplify the effects of exercise in less time, with less stress on the body. BFR Training was pioneered by the inventor of KAATSU, Dr. Yoshiake Sato.


BFR Training done with the KAATSU device is the safest and most effective way we have found to conduct this type of training.

What is KAATSU Used For?

  • Increasing strength & hypertrophy (building muscle)

  • Speeding up injury recovery and rehabilitation after surgery

  • Weight loss

  • Recovery (from workouts in general or competitions, races, etc.)

  • Improved hormonal response

How is KAATSU Training Done?

Once the bands are placed on the upper arms or upper legs (never both at the same time) they are filled with air to a preset pressure to the appropriate tightness for you. Then you perform exercises based on your goals and requirements using very light loads. A common prescription would be to use 20-30% of your 1 repetition maximum of a given exercise. We use different protocols depending on the goal (e.g., building strength & muscle vs. injury recovery).


Don’t let the light loads fool you! The slight modulation of blood flow return quickly increases the buildup of lactate (the “burn” you feel when strenuously exercising) and requiring you to tap into all your muscle fibers (more on all the benefits below).


The training sessions are short because they are so efficient. The benefits of even light exercise such as walking, bodyweight exercise, and mobility drills are amplified when using KAATSU. We can use the KAATSU in two different modes, again depending on your goals and situation:


  • Cycle Mode: In this mode the bands fill to a preset pressure for 30 seconds, then completely release for 5 seconds, then refills again for 30 seconds. This cycle – 30 seconds of pressure, then 5 seconds of no pressure – is repeated for an allotted amount of time while you are doing light exercise. This is the preferred mode for injury recovery/rehabilitation, pain clients, and training recovery.

  • Constant Mode: In this mode the bands fill to a preset pressure then stay at that pressure for the duration of the workout. This is the more strenuous mode as there is no release of the pressure throughout the workout. We use this mode for building strength and muscle, lactate tolerance training, and improving athletic performance.

BFR at Neuroathlete

NFL Lineman Ben Garland Training using KAATSU and Exxentric Lunges

NeuroAthlete is always accepting New Clients!


Call Us at (719) 225-4949 to book your Personalized Blood Flow Restriction Therapy or Training appointment today!

How Does KAATSU Work?

During KAATSU training, several physiological effects are occurring, both at the local level (muscle tissue being trained) and at a systemic level (overall body, hormones, etc.).


  • Local tissue level benefits:

    • Fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment: only exercise that activates fast twitch muscle fibers will significantly increase strength and muscle improvements

    • Increased protein synthesis in the muscles (part of what is needed to make them grow)

    • Improved lactate tolerance (your ability to do more hard work over time)


  • Systemic benefits:

    • Increased production of hormones and metabolites including HGH (Human Growth Hormone), NO2 (nitric oxide), IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor), VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), ceramides, plasmalogens, beta endorphins, testosterone, etc.

    • Decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone) production

    • Increase of the elasticity of vascular tissue (i.e., capillaries, veins, and arteries) resulting in better moderation of blood pressure and higher efficiency of blood circulation


These reactions enable you to increase muscle and strength, improve blood circulation, improve metabolic syndrome, reduce the probability of osteoporosis, improve sleep, burn additional calories, improve agility and endurance, and facilitate recovery from injuries and surgeries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do KAATSU bands cut off circulation to my limbs?

No. KAATSU Air Bands do not occlude arterial flow and only put mild pressure on the veins, slightly modifying venous flow.


What does “KAATSU” mean?

The word KAATSU is Japanese for “additional pressure”.


Who invented KAATSU?

The protocol was first invented by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in 1966; the protocol and device was refined until 1973, then was used to train others for the next decade until Dr. Sato made the device and protocol commercially available in Japan.

Has KAATSU Training been researched?

More research has been conducted in more countries on KAATSU than any other BFR device. Seminal, groundbreaking research on KAATSU, the original BFR, was conducted and published by KAATSU inventor Dr. Yoshiaki Sato and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo during the mid-1990’s. KAATSU equipment and protocols were proven safe and effective after a decade of clinical use and research on over 7,000 cardiac rehab patients at the University of Tokyo Hospital (between 2004 and 2014).

Who uses KAATSU Training?

KAATSU is used by cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physical therapists, and physicians in various specialties. KAATSU is also utilized by athletes of all levels, from amateur to professional and Olympic level.


Why is KAATSU training better than BFR training using other bands/devices?

We have utilized many devices for BFR Training over the years, and the KAATSU system has stood out as far and away the best for several reasons:

  • The Cycle Mode with KAATSU is patented and will not be found with other bands/devices; this mode (30 seconds of pressure, then 5 seconds no pressure) is great for warm-up, cool-down, injury recovery/rehab, and especially with clients who are dealing with pain or other issues

  • The KAATSU bands are very comfortable compared to other brands and allow a full range of motion of the arms and the legs due to their specific design

  • The air bladders in the KAATSU bands are specially designed for improved comfort and safety

  • KAATSU device pressure can be incrementally and accurately adjusted as needed by the electronic device that fills the bands, as opposed to the subjective filling using elastic bands or a hand-pump fill device

NeuroAthlete is always accepting New Clients!


Call Us at (719) 225-4949 to book your Personalized Blood Flow Restriction Therapy or Training appointment today!

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