Blood flow restriction training, or BFRT, is an exercise modality and ultimate bio-hack that uses a manipulation of the body’s Circulatory System in combination with light load/ no load exercise to create results similar to high intensity strength training.


About kaatsu

Blood flow restriction training, or BFRT, is an exercise modality and ultimate bio-hack that uses a manipulation of the body’s Circulatory System in combination with light load/ no load exercise to create results similar to high intensity strength training.

Founded in Japan, KAATSU is the origin of modern BFRT and boasts over 50 years innovation coupled with decades of clinical research. There are millions of users across 32 countries with over 300k BFRT session daily in Japan alone.

KAATSU’s unique design was engineered for BFRT. With flexible pneumatic air bands and a broad therapeutic window, KAATSU has become the gold standard of safety and efficacy amongst pro sports teams, clinicians, military special ops and physical therapists world wide.

*Showing KAATSU Nano

*Showing KAATSU Nano

*Showing KAATSU Nano

*Showing KAATSU Nano


benefits of kaatsu


Train on both sides of body simultaneously


Train un-tethered to the unit; no stand is needed enabling sport specific training


Flexible air bands that yield to muscle contractions, lowering risk of occlusion


How KAATSU Works

 Special air bands are worn on the upper legs and arms to safely modify blood flow. Two compressors inflate the air bands and once optimal pressure settings have been established, light training produces an engorgement of blood in the arms/legs and a variety of positive physiological effects in a short period of time, such as:

  • Disruption of homeostasis

  • Increase of nitric oxide in blood vessels, increasing their elasticity

  • Fast and slow twitch muscles are toned simultaneously

  • Lactic acid increases, stimulating receptors in the muscle and leading to elevated levels of growth hormone.

Safe, accelerated muscle development during rehabilitation; imagine what KAATSU could mean for your athletes.


When KAATSU Bands are applied correctly (proper position and pressure), arterial in-flow is restricted, deep venous out-flow is impeded, and the capillary-venous space becomes distended and congested in the muscle distal to the KAATSU Bands.

Muscle contraction under these conditions of restricted and impeded blood flow and congested vascular space uses up intracellular phosphates, energy stores and oxygen at a rate greater than the circulation can replenish them. As a result:

  • Metabolic waste products accumulate.

  • Homeostasis in the active muscle is lost.

  • As the tissue becomes more hypoxic and energy stores deplete, anaerobic glycolysis attempts to compensate by increasing its rate.

  • This produces some ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) but also produces a marked disturbance in muscle homeostasis, ultimately raising intracellular, interstitial and blood lactic acid concentrations.

Hypoxia, acidosis, lactate ion per se, inorganic phosphate, AMP and many other local factors have been shown to turn on transcription and thus, protein synthesis in muscle cells. This is the so-called “local effect” of KAATSU that results in stimulation of muscle, tendon and vascular growth.

The marked disturbance of muscle homeostasis and vascular bed congestion is communicated to the central nervous system (CNS) by group III and IV afferent nerves. These afferent nerves communicate this “distress” to the CNS. It is perceived cortically (consciously), as a type of pain (i.e. what one feels when doing KAATSU), but there are many subconscious synapses that stimulate efferent output in a variety of centers.

For example, connections to and in the cardiovascular control centers stimulate an increase in breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Another example is hypothalamic release of growth hormone releasing factor (GHRF) to the anterior pituitary, which releases growth hormone (GH), which in turn, stimulates insulin growth factor I (IGF-I) release from the liver. This is part of the “systemic response” to repair and grow skeletal muscle and repair injury.

In addition, various substances in the venous blood of the exercising muscle modifies and amplifies the changes occurring from both local and systemic mechanisms as the blood is redistributed to other vascular beds.


KAATSU is supported by extensive research. Documentation below is representative of a greater body of published research and clinical studies.

Case Studies

Effects of resistance exercise combined with moderate vascular occlusion on muscular function in humans.

2000 - Journal of Applied Physiology

Effects of resistance exercise combined with vascular occlusion on muscle function in athletes.

2002 - Eur J Appl Physiol

Skeletal muscle size and circulating IGF-1 are increased after two weeks of twice daily “KAATSU” resistance training. 

2005 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Hemodynamic and autonomic nervous responses to the restriction of femoral blood flow by KAATSU

2005 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Hemodynamic and hormonal responses to a short-term low-intensity resistance exercise with the reduction of muscle blood ?ow

2005 - Eur J Appl Physiol

Muscle fiber cross-sectional area is increased after two weeks of twice daily KAATSU-resistance training

2005 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

KAATSU-walk training increases serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase in young men

2005 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Use and safety of KAATSU training: Results of a national survey

2006 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Electromyographic responses of arm and chest muscle during bench press exercise with and without KAATSU

2006 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Muscle size and strength are increased following walk training with restricted venous blood flow from the leg muscle, KAATSU-walk training

2006 - J. Appl. Physiol.

Use and safety of KAATSU training: Results of a national survey

2006 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Res

Effects of KAATSU training on haemostasis in healthy subjects

2007 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Res.

Hemodynamic and neurohumoral responses to the restriction of femoral blood flow by KAATSU in healthy subjects.

2007 - Eur J Appl Physiol.

Blood flow restriction during low-intensity resistance exercise increases S6K1 phosphorylation and muscle protein synthesis.

2007 - J Appl Physiol.

Hemodynamic responses to simulated weightlessness of 24-h head-down bed rest and KAATSU blood flow restriction.

2008 - Eur J Appl Physiol.

Resistance exercise combined with KAATSU during simulated weightlessness

2008 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Research

Cross-transfer effects of resistance training with blood flow restriction.

2008 - Med Sci Sports Exerc.

Muscle activation during low-intensity muscle contractions with varying levels of external limb compression

2008 - Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

Muscle activation during low-intensity muscle contractions with restricted blood flow.

2009 - J Sports Sci.

Effects of low-intensityresistance exercise with blood flow restriction on coagulation system in healthy subjects.

2010 - Clin Physiol Funct Imaging.

Effects of low-intensity KAATSU resistance training on skeletal muscle size/strength and endurance capacity in patients with ischemic heart disease

2010 - Int. J. KAATSU Training Res.

Effects of Low-Intensity Walk Training With Restricted Leg Blood Flow on Muscle Strength and Aerobic Capacity in Older Adults

2010 - J Geriatric Physical Therapy

The effects of low-intensity resistance training with vascular restriction on leg muscle strength in older men.

2010 - Eur J Appl Physiol

Neuromuscular fatigue following low-intensity dynamic exercise with externally applied vascular restriction

2010 - Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology

Effects of walking with blood flow restriction on limb venous compliance in elderly subjects.

2011 - Clin Physiol Funct Imaging.

Effects of Exercise and Anti-Aging

2011 - Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine

Combined effects of low-intensity blood flow restriction training and high-intensity resistance training on muscle strength and size.

2011 - Eur J Appl Physiol.

The effects of different initial restrictive pressures used to reduce blood flow and thigh composition on tissue oxygenation of the quadriceps

2011 - J Sports Sci.

Effects of low-intensity, elastic band resistance exercise combined with blood flow restriction on muscle activation.

2012 - Scand J Med Sci Sports.



What is the difference between KAATSU and normal resistance training? . . .

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

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 in the narrower region below the deltoid and above the biceps 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 in 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)

NOTE: Those who exceed 48 cm in circumference on their upper arms or 70 cm in circumference on their upper legs are recommended to special order KAATSU Air Bands.

What is the best way to start KAATSU? . . .

KAATSU Cycle is an easy, convenient and comfortable way to begin a KAATSU training because KAATSU Cycle is easy, convenient, automatic, and very safe. 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.

What are the contraindications to KAATSU Cycle? . . .

The only contraindications to KAATSU Cycle, when performed according to the standard KAATSU protocols, are situations where the person needs to be in a hospital or emergency room such as 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.

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

The best KAATSU Specialists possess knowledge in the areas of coaching, training, rehabilitation and physiology. While necessary principles are conveyed in the KAATSU Certification Course, it is recommended that those who wish to become KAATSU Specialists have some education and experience in coaching and training.

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

We recommend that you never place KAATSU Air Bands on arms and legs simultaneously. KAATSU Air Bands attempt to impede circulation and produce muscle fatigue in the muscle involved. To do so safely, one group of muscles should be focused on at a time.

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 use of KAATSU modifies the pattern of blood flow; impeding and slowing down blood flow, but never occluding it.

What are the effects of KAATSU on the heart? . . .

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

Can the use of KAATSU Air Bands 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 an individual mistakenly 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 do KAATSU safely and effectively.

If individuals can easily wrap their own arms with bands or surgical tubing without certification, why purchase KAATSU? . . .

KAATSU training emphasizes safety and paying great attention to getting the pressures right. When too much pressure is used, dangerous occlusion training is the result. The application of too little pressure does not produce the benefits of KAATSU. Only patented KAATSU bands are specifically designed to provide correct KAATSU. Surgical tourniquets, blood pressure cuffs, tubing or belts do not have the proper 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.

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. Competitive athletes in their 20’s may perform up to 5 KAATSU sessions per week.

Can KAATSU be used even after an injury like a bone break or muscle tear? . . .

Yes, KAATSU is uniquely suited to allow continued strength training while not disturbing the healing fracture or muscle tear.

How do I work my core with KAATSU? . . .

If you incorporate the use of core muscles into your KAATSU exercises, they will enjoy the similar 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.

There is no optimal time to do KAATSU. However, you may enjoy your KAATSU session more if you establish a regular schedule. It is not recommended to do KAATSU right after a large meal and for some, doing KAATSU or any exercise just before bedtime may impact their ability to fall asleep.

What types of exercises can you do with KAATSU? . . .

Any light weight or partial body weight exercises can be performed with KAATSU. It is recommended that the three-point exercises first be mastered, then perform exercises most specific to the activities relevant to your lifestyle. Examples include cyclists KAATSU-ing on a stationary bike or baseball players throwing with arm bands on.

What is the risk of rhabdomyolysis from KAATSU? . . .

There is a very low risk of Rhabdomyolysis Rhabdomyolysis does not occur when individuals do KAATSU properly and 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. 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 use of alcohol or illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or amphetamines.
  • Extreme muscle strain (especially in someone who is an untrained athlete; it can happen in elite athletes and can be more dangerous if there is more muscle mass to break down)
  • A crush injury such as from an auto accident, fall, or building collapse
  • Long-lasting muscle compression such as caused by prolonged immobilization after a fall or lying unconscious on a hard surface during illness or while under the influence of alcohol or medication

The use of medications such as antipsychotics or statins, especially when given in high doses Other causes of rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Electrical shock injury, lightning strike, or third-degree burn
  • A very high body temperature (hyperthermia) or heat stroke
  • Seizures
  • A metabolic disorder such as ketoacidosis
  • Diseases of the muscles (myopathy) such as congenital muscle enzyme deficiency or Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy
  • Viral infections such as the flu, HIV, or herpes simplex virus
  • Bacterial infections leading to toxins in tissues or the bloodstream (sepsis) There was a famous case in the occlusion training (or tournique training) community where a Norwegian ice hockey player experienced rhabdomyolysis while using Delfi equipment. 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. This was the first time he had worked out in a long time due to injury. 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 conditions necessary for rhabdomyolysis due to KAATSU would be extreme and extremely rare and likely to include multiple other conditions that can cause rhabdomyolysis.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/athlete to understand and safely utilize in their training.