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Regular strength training more effective than Kaatsu training

Kaatsu, the bizarre Japanese strength training method we've written about over the past few years, is more effective when combined with regular strength training sessions. Even more effective than this combination is... regular strength training on its own. This is the conclusion drawn in a sobering study by the University of Tokyo, which will be published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Regular strength training more effective than Kaatsu training
The publication describes an experiment in which the researchers got 40 men aged between 22 and 32 to do weight training for 6 weeks or nothing. Those who did nothing were the control group. [CON] The men had never done intensive weight training before.

The subjects in the training groups went to a gym three times a week. The first training group followed a conventional weight training programme, each session consisting of 3 sets of 10 reps on the bench press. The weight used was 75 percent of the 1RM. The 1Rm is the weight at which the men could just manage to do 1 bench press. [HI-RT] The men rested for 2 minutes between sets.

A second group trained using the Kaatsu method. What that involves, you can read here. Kaatsu belts [see above] were strapped around the upper arms of the men, restricting the blood supply.

"On the first day of training, the cuffs were inflated to a pressure of 100 mmHg", the researchers write. "The pressure was increased by 10 mmHg at each subsequent training session until a pressure of 160 mmHg was reached." [LI-BFR]

With the blood supply to their arms restricted the men first did a set of 30 reps, followed by 3 sets of 15 reps. They rested for 30 seconds between sets. They did the exercises at 30 percent of their 1RM.

The third group trained twice a week using the Kaatsu method, and once a week doing a regular training session. [CB-RT]

At the end of the 6 weeks the 1RM of the men in the regular strength-training group had increased the most. In second place came the combination group and in third place the Kaatsu group. There was less difference in results when it came to muscle mass [CSA]. Statistically there was no difference between the different types of training.

Regular strength training more effective than Kaatsu training

Regular strength training more effective than Kaatsu training

You can conclude from the study that Kaatsu training is not an attractive alternative to regular training for healthy strength athletes. Because the weights used are so low, Kaatsu training is tyill interesting for athletes recovering from injury.

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Mar 1. [Epub ahead of print].

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