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

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 May;100(5):1460-6. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01267.2005. Epub 2005 Dec 8.


Previous studies have shown that low-intensity resistance training with restricted muscular venous blood flow (Kaatsu) causes muscle hypertrophy and strength gain. To investigate the effects of daily physical activity combined with Kaatsu, we examined the acute and chronic effects of walk training with and without Kaatsu on MRI-measured muscle size and maximum dynamic (one repetition maximum) and isometric strength, along with blood hormonal parameters. Nine men performed Kaatsu-walk training, and nine men performed walk training alone (control-walk). Training was conducted two times a day, 6 days/wk, for 3 wk using five sets of 2-min bouts (treadmill speed at 50 m/min), with a 1-min rest between bouts. Mean oxygen uptake during Kaatsu-walk and control-walk exercise was 19.5 (SD 3.6) and 17.2 % (SD 3.1) of treadmill-determined maximum oxygen uptake, respectively. Serum growth hormone was elevated (P < 0.01) after acute Kaatsu-walk exercise but not in control-walk exercise. MRI-measured thigh muscle cross-sectional area and muscle volume increased by 4-7%, and one repetition maximum and maximum isometric strength increased by 8-10% in the Kaatsu-walk group. There was no change in muscle size and dynamic and isometric strength in the control-walk group. Indicators of muscle damage (creatine kinase and myoglobin) and resting anabolic hormones did not change in both groups. The results suggest that the combination of leg muscle blood flow restriction with slow-walk training induces muscle hypertrophy and strength gain, despite the minimal level of exercise intensity. Kaatsu-walk training may be a potentially useful method for promoting muscle hypertrophy, covering a wide range of the population, including the frail and elderly.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Creatine Kinase / analysis
  • Exercise Test
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hypertrophy / physiopathology
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Leg / pathology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*


  • Growth Hormone
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Hydrocortisone