Occlusive Training: Science for Your Use

Occlusive training is intended to work through the process of “metabolic accumulation.”

Dr. Sato, 67 years behind him, is the inventor and developer of the program known as KAATSU training (occlusive training). Throughout this article we are going to try to understand with science the part applicable to training of this curious program, which promises the results of three hours of training in just 30 minutes, will it be that training 3 hours is always a positive thing?

What is occlusive training?

It seems logical to start by trying to understand what this occlusion is. It is about restricting blood flow in certain points of the body during training with the aim of stimulating the exercise pressure reflex (RPE), to do this, straps are used as a tourniquet, with controlled measures, this causes anabolic stress in the muscle and at the cortical level, without the need to use large resistances in the form of weight, which translates, according to multiple studies, into an increase in strength.

It is very interesting that it was found that the percentage of Growth Hormone (GH) in the blood increased using this technique, as well as the satellite cells involved in muscle growth, resulting in greater protein synthesis. In the case of our faithful rats, it has also been shown to increase signaling of the pathways for mTOR.


Do not panic, if you are one of the people who enjoy their time in the gym, you should know that this technique is not a miracle that will limit your training time to half an hour, as its creator announces (you will already know that, normally when An advertisement sells the results of a week in half an hour, something dark hides). As it happened in its day with the electrostimulation vests, over time we saw that they can be an interesting complement but not the base of your training.

However, this technique has very laudable applications:

In low-intensity aerobic exercises, it has been shown to produce muscular improvements in strength and, to a lesser extent, also in hypertrophy (study). In a protocol as simple as walking for 2 minutes 5 times, at a speed of 50 meters minutes a day 6 days a week, with occlusion of the lower limbs.

The relationship between occlusive training and its analgesic effects on pain is being studied.

You do not need to occlude all the joints of your body, in this study it was found that both proximal and distal limbs to the occlusion benefit from it.


The main benefit of this technique is that the relationship between joint and muscular stress that it causes considerably reduces the relationship between risk and potential benefit. Keep in mind that the studies have worked with the proposal of the method of not exceeding 20% ​​-40% of 1RM. This opens the doors to very interesting training for groups such as people with reduced mobility due to injuries, to speed up rehabilitation processes, to reach population groups such as the elderly or inactive people with a higher risk of injury when starting to exercise.

Therefore, it is equally useful for maintaining and even increasing muscle mass in periods of unloading or before competition.

There are different ways of applying occlusion training (kaatsu is a registered protocol that we are not going to get into, but if you are interested you can visit their website and find out about their training)

I personally like two forms of application, which vary depending on the person:

  • Finish the training with an 8-minute set of muscular work distributed in a first series of 30 repetitions (20% RM) at the rate of (3-0-3) with a 30-second rest. Continue with 3-5 sets (depending on training level) of 15 rep at 30-40% RM at a rate of (5-0-5).
  • Another option is to work by times, the system would be the same, warm-up series with 20% RM to continue with 3 -4 series at 30% 40% RM, with the sequence of 1 minute of work, 30 seconds of rest.

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