Previous studies have shown that low-intensity resistance training with restricted blood flow, known as KAATSU training, increases muscle strength and size. Its effects on blood vessel function, however, have not been examined. We compared the effects of a short-term KAATSU resistance training protocol and traditional high-intensity resistance training on muscle strength and blood vessel function in young, untrained men. Male volunteers were randomly assigned to a KAATSU resistance training group (KR, n=10), a traditional resistance training group (RT, n=10), or a KAATSU-only group (K, n=10). Both KR and RT groups trained 3 times per week for 3 weeks doing leg press (LP), knee flexion (KF), and knee extension (KE) isotonic resistance exercises. Training sessions consisted of 5-10 min of warm-up, followed by 2 sets of 10 repetitions at 80% of 1 repetition maximum (1-RM) for the RT group, while the KR group performed the resistance exercises with vascular restriction at a load of 20% of 1-RM. The K group had only the vascular restriction treatment for 3 weeks. Muscle strength (1-RM) and arterial compliance (pulse contour analysis) were assessed at baseline and after training. Both the KR and RT groups did not show changes in arterial compliance of the large or small arteries (P>0.05) after training. There were significant time effects (P<0.05 pre- vs. posttraining); however, resistance training generally resulted in greater relative improvements in strength. Arterial compliance of the large and small arteries was not affected by the either the KAATSU or traditional high-intensity resistance training interventions.
The purpose of this study was to investigate once-daily walk training with restricted leg blood flow (KAATSU) on thigh muscle size and strength. Twelve young men performed walk training: KAATSU-walk training (n=6) and control (no KAATSU-walk; n=6). Training was conducted once daily, 6 days per week, for 3 weeks. Treadmill walking (50 m/min) was performed for 5 sets of 2-min bouts interspersed with 1-min rest periods. The KAATSU-walk group wore pressure cuff belts (5 cm wide) on both legs during training, with incremental increases in external compression starting at 160 mmHg and ending at 230 mmHg. Thigh muscle volume and isometric and 1-repetition maximal (1-RM) strength were measured before and after training. In the KAATSU-walk group, quadriceps and hamstrings muscle volume increased 1.7 and 2.4% (both P<0.05), respectively, following training. One-RM leg press and leg curl increased 7.3 and 8.6% (both P<0.05), respectively, following KAATSU-walk training. Also, isometric knee extension strength (4.4%; P<0.01), but not knee flexion strength (1.7%), increased following KAATSU-walk training. There were no changes in muscle volume or strength in the control-walk group. These results confirm previous work showing that the combination of slow walk training and leg muscle blood flow restriction induces muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. However, the magnitude of change in muscle mass and strength following once-daily KAATSU-walk training was approximately one-half that reported for twice-daily KAATSU-walk training over a 3-week period. These results in combination with previous observations lead to the conclusion that the impact of KAATSU-walk training on muscle size and strength is related to an ability to accomplish a high number of training bouts within a compressed training duration. Second, frequency-dependent muscle enlargement appears to be associated with KAATSU-walk training.