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Comparison of Traditional strength training and Kaatsu strength training on thermal asymmetry, fatigue rate, and peak torque.


Barros NA, Aidar FJ, Matos DG, Junior, HA, Boaretto, SM, Souza RF, Oliveira AS, Cercato LM, Camargo EA, Bastos, AA. Comparison of Traditional Strength Training and Kaatsu Strength Training on Thermal Asymmetry, Fatigue Rate, and Peak Torque. JEPonline 2017;20(1):1-12. The aim of this study was to compare variables related to asymmetry, peak torque, and fatigue index in the Traditional strength training method and the Kaatsu strength training method, which is a blood flow restriction training strategy. Ten male subjects with a minimum of 12 months' experience in strength training participated in this study. It was found that while the Kaatsu method resulted in a greater loss of peak torque, its recovery was better at 24 and 48 hrs after the intervention with a higher peak torque peak versus the Traditional method. In addition, it was found that soon after the intervention, the Kaatsu method had a higher fatigue index and a greater asymmetry versus the Traditional method. The findings indicate that the Kaatsu training method promoted an increase in the concentration levels of CK, LDH, and lactate besides presenting higher values of fatigue index, and peak torque.

Key Words: Kaatsu Training, Strength Training, Fatigue Index, Peak Torque, Heart Rate


Although strength training has been used as a primary means to physical conditioning (14), there are several types of data treatment and methods used as a form of potentiation in response to resistance exercises on muscle strength and fatigue (1). In fact, as an alternative to traditional ST practice in which the exercises are carried out with an average load of 70% of 1RM (2), Takada et al. (22) have highlighted the Kaatsu method that was created by the Japanese Yoshiaki Sato in the 1960s. The method consists of exercises with 20% of 1RM associated with partial vascular occlusion of the exercised limb. The force gain in both the traditional method and the Kaatsu method tends to be similar (16).

On the other hand, some studies using thermography have been used to verify local skin temperature, which tends to be similar between the sides of the body and the possible thermal asymmetries associated with physiological and structural abnormalities in athletes (12). Thus, it was proposed by Marins et al. (15) that a level of attention based on local skin temperature differences obtained between contralateral copradial study regions, namely:

(a) Normal: asymmetries [less than or equal to]0.4[degrees]C;

(b) Monitoring: asymmetries [greater than or equal to]0.5[degrees]C, where it is advisable to reassess and verify if there is influence of some external factor;

(c) Prevention: values between 0.8[degrees]C and 1.0[degrees]C, where it is recommended a reduction in the load or even a suspension of the training, and medical and/or physiotherapeutic evaluation;

(d) Alarm: values between 1.1[degrees]C and 1.5[degrees]C, immediate suspension of training and/or medical or physiotherapeutic evaluation; and

(e) Severity: asymmetries [greater than or equal to]1.6[degrees]C, thus suggesting an asymmetry with a pathological characteristic or an important lesion with the recommendation of medical and/or physiotherapeutic evaluation.

Therefore, considering the scarce number of studies investigating the variables related to asymmetry, peak torque, and fatigue index, the purpose of this study was to verify, compare, and analyze these variables.



Sixteen subjects initially participated in this study. Ten subjects were males with a minimum of 12 months of experience in the practice of recreational strength training. The subjects' age was 18 to 25 yrs (22.50 [+ or -] 2.84), height was 1.77 [+ or -] 0.05 m, weight was 75.45 [+ or -] 6.86 kg, and fat percentage was 14.45 [+ or -] 3.36%; all of which were submitted to two strength training methods. The first was the occlusion method (Kaatsu). The second method was the Traditional method. All subjects participated in the data collection process that was defined by a lottery for each test performed.

Subjects using illicit ergogenic supplements or who were involved in any method of losing or gaining fast weight before and/or during the intervention were excluded from the sample, given that such a practice may influence the physical performance. Participation in the study was subject to medical authorization, and only clinically healthy subjects were accepted.

All subjects were submitted to four familiarization and test sessions with a minimum rest interval between sessions of 72 hrs. All questions regarding the study were clarified, and each subject was requested to sign an authorization form in accordance with resolution 466/2012 of the National Commission of Ethics in Research - CONEP, National Health Council, in accordance with ethical principles Expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki (1964, restated in 1975, 1983, 1989, 1996, 2000, and 2008) of the World Medical Association.

Strength Training Equipment

The equipment used in the tests was the Leg Press 45[degrees] (Physicus, Brazil). Determination of the rest between the series was made by a chronometer of the mark Cassio, model HS 50 W (Cassio, Japan). A metronome of the Willner brand (Isny, Germany) was used to determine the time during in the concentric and eccentric phases of the movements. For vascular occlusion, a pneumatic tourniquet was used for hemostasis in the extremities of the classic type--the Riester brand (Riester, Germany).

Measures of Force

To measure muscle strength Peak Torque and Fatigue Rate, a Kratos load cell (model CZC500, Kratus, Brazil) was fixed to the Leg Press 45[degrees] apparatus, using the Spider HMS Simond carabiners (Chamonix, France) with a rupture card of 21 KN, which was approved for climbing by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) (8). A steel chain with dimensions of 10 X 35 X 30 mm with a rupture load of 2,300 kg was used to fix the force cell to the apparatus. The perpendicular distance between the load cell and the center of the joint was determined and used to calculate joint torques and fatigue index adapted from the procedure performed by Bento et al. (5).

Thermographic Image Capture

The thermographic imaging was performed in a prepared room without natural light (using artificial fluorescent lamps) with no airflow directed to the collection site. Ambient temperature conditions were maintained via an air conditioner that was monitored by a Thermo-Hikari HTH-240 Digital Hygrometer (Hikari, China) to keep the temperature around 24[degrees]C and the relative humidity around 50% (10). The subjects were instructed not to engage in vigorous physical activity during the previous 24 hrs, not to consume alcohol or caffeine, or to use any types of cream or lotions on the skin 6 hrs before the evaluation.

To obtain the thermograms, the subjects were required to remain standing without making any sudden movements. The subjects were asked not to cross their arms, and they did not scratch for a period of at least 10 min for acclimatization (15). The images were captured by the camera (Flir System Inc. Model C2, Sweden) with a resolution of 80 x 60 pixels at a distance of 1.5 m with emissivity set at 0.98 (21). The images captured before training, shortly after 24 hrs, and 48 hrs after training were analyzed using the software (FLIR Tools - version 5.4.15351.1001). The body region of interest was the thigh that was specifically 5 cm above the superior border of the patella and the inguinal line, and in the leg it was 5 cm below the inferior border of the patella and 10 cm above the malleolus in the anterior and posterior view (8).

Evaluators and Load Adjustment

The evaluators were submitted to four familiarization sessions prior to the test. Two sessions were used to determine the load, and two sessions were used to familiarize the subjects with the training methods. The samples were collected between 13:00 and 18:00 hrs, according to the subjects' availability.

The activities were composed of a 10 to 15 min warm-up with ~50% of the 10 RM load, which was composed of two series of 15 to 20 repetitions of the leg press exercise at 45[degrees] of the brand Physicus (Physicus, Brazil). For the 10RM test, the subjects performed 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (14).

The subjects were instructed not to block their breathing during the exercises. The load adjustment occurred at the moment when the subjects reported conditions to comfortably perform the determined repetitions. In all cases, the recovery interval between the series and the exercises was 90 sec. The interval that was controlled by the subjects with the help of two evaluators used two Cassio chronometers (Model HS 50 W, Cassio, Japan). At the end of the exercise, the interval was started that informed the evaluators in the interval of 30 in 30 sec and in the final 10 sec for the preparation for the next series. The room temperature was checked at 22 to 25[degrees]C and the relative air humidity was at 50 and 70% before the start of the exercise (method), and after performing the 4 sets of 8 to 12 (3 X 8 - 12 RM). To measure the temperature, a Hikari HTH-240 Digital Thermo-Hygrometer was used (Hikari, China).

Load Determination

The 1RM test was performed with each subject starting the trials with a weight consistent with being lifted once using maximum effort. Then, weight increments were added until the maximum load was lifted once. If the subject could not perform a single repetition, 2.4 to 2.5% of the load would be subtracted (14). Then, the subjects rested for 3 to 5 min between attempts. All subjects underwent two sessions of 1RM tests with the interval of 48 to 72 hrs between each session to evaluate muscle strength.

The test was preceded by a series of heating (10 to 12 replicates) with approximately 50% of the load used on the first attempt of each 1RM test. Testing was started 2 min after heating. Therefore, the load recorded was 10RM that the individual completed after 10 replicates. The transition interval between exercises was 3 to 5 min.


Soon after filling out the questionnaires, two familiarization sessions were done both with the exercises and with the OMNI scale. During the familiarization, instructions were given as to the use of the scale in the values mentioned and used during the intervention. The scale was presented to the subjects during the strength training sessions, which assigned a numerical value on the scale corresponding to their general perception of exertion at that moment.

Isometric Torque and Fatigue Index

The isometric peak torque was measured by the maximum torque generated by the muscles of the lower limbs. The isometric peak torque was determined by the product of the isometric force peak and the segment length, given by the distance between the load cell cable attachment point and the leg press apparatus, which was adjusted so that there was a knee angulation close to 90[degrees]. The isometric force was determined by a load cell (Kratos, model CZC500) that was attached to an inextensible cable and attached to the leg press. The subjects were instructed to perform a single maximal movement looking for knee extension ("as soon as possible") and then to relax for the isometric peak torque evaluation. For the evaluation of the fatigue index, the same exercise was performed and determined of which the subjects maintained their maximum contraction for 1 min.

Strength Training Session with Occlusion (Kaatsu)

An aneroid blood pressure sphygmomanometer (18 cm wide and 80 cm long) was used. The volunteers performed the leg press exercise 45[degrees] with the occlusion device in both legs and the sphygmomanometer was placed in the proximal region of the thighs and inflated to an occlusion pressure of 130% of the systolic blood pressure (22). The mean occlusion pressure was the systolic pressure, at rest, and maintained at 130%, throughout the exercise session and deflated 30 sec after exercise and re-inflatable 30 sec before starting the new series (130 to 160 mmHg), were performed 4 series of 8 to12RM (22).

The volunteers did a 10-min warm-up on a cycle ergometer and after that, they performed a warm-up located on knee flexion exercise with a 50% load of 1RM. The occlusion pressure was maintained throughout the exercise session, including in the rest intervals and released only at the end of the exercise session.

Traditional Training

The volunteers did a 10-min warm-up on a cycle ergometer and after that, performed a warm-up located in the flexor-extension exercise of the knees with an approximate load of 80% of 1RM (14). Four sets of 8 to 12RM were performed with the execution speed of one second in the concentric phase for 2 sec in the eccentric phase with a 90-sec interval between sets.

Pre-Test Procedures

Before the data collection, anthropometric evaluation of the athletes was performed. The height was measured using a stadiometer coupled to the scale (accuracy of 0.1 cm). Body density was indirectly estimated (adipometer Sanny, Brazil) using the equation of Jackson and Pollock (13) of three skinfolds, pectoral, abdominal, and thigh.

Statistical Analyses

Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS), version 22.0. The central tendency measures, mean [+ or -] standard deviation were used. To verify the normality of the variables, the Shapiro Wilk test was used, considering the sample size. The ANOVA (2X4) and post hoc of Bonferroni was used for the indicators of strength, fatigue, and muscle damage. ANOVA (2X2) was used for HR, PA, and lactate indicators to verify possible differences between groups divided by age group. For the comparison of pain and subjective perseverance effort OMNI Res the paired t-test was done. In order to verify the size of the effect, the Cohen [f.sup.2] test was used in addition to the cut points 0.02 to 0.15 with small effect, from 0.15 to 0.35 as median and greater than 0. Statistical significance was set at P[less than or equal to]0.05.


The results in relation to peak torque, fatigue index, anterior asymmetry and posterior asymmetry in relation to pre- and post-test, after 24 hrs and 48 hrs after the intervention through the Traditional methods and with vascular occlusion, are represented in Table 1 and the kinetics indicators in the various tests are described in Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Figure 1 shows that soon after the intervention the Kaatsu method resulted in a significant decrease in peak torque, but recovery was better (although not significant) at 24 and 48 hrs after the intervention with a higher peak torque in the occlusion method versus the Traditional method.


Figure 2 shows that soon after the intervention the Kaatsu method had a greater fatigue, but recovery was significantly better at 24 hrs and lower but not significant at 48 hrs after the intervention with less fatigue in the occlusion method versus the Traditional method.


Figure 3 shows that soon after the intervention the Kaatsu method had a greater asymmetry, but asymmetry at 24 and 48 hrs was the same in both training methods.


Figure 4 shows that soon after the intervention the Kaatsu method had an asymmetry pattern similar to the Traditional method, but at 48 hrs the Kaatsu method presented an asymmetry much lower than the Traditional method.


Figures 5 and 6 are the thermograms for the Traditional method while Figures 7 and 8 are the thermograms for the Kaatsu method.



The findings in the present study indicate that both the peak torque and the fatigue index were significantly different in the Kaatsu method (i.e., the blood flow restriction training) versus the Traditional method after the intervention, and that less fatigue was noted in the subjects at 24 hrs in the Kaatsu method.

Prior to the intervention, the subjects had a mean peak torque over 1000 Nm in both training methods. But, interestingly, in the post-test evaluation the subjects using the Kaatsu training method demonstrated a rapid recovery noted by the reduction in peak torque of 31.81%. Then, at 24 hrs the same subjects compared to the Traditional training method experienced a return of peak torque to 96.75% of the value reached during the pretest. On the other hand, the subjects using the Traditional training method demonstrated a reduction of 20.05% after the training intervention that was followed by a recovery of 84.32% of the pre-test value.

The fatigue index behaved inversely to peak torque. As peak torque decreased, the fatigue index was higher and vice versa. In relation to the Traditional method, the fatigue index increased by 37.30% compared to the pre-test value and after 24 hrs, this value was 23.52%. As for the Kaatsu method, the fatigue index increased to 71.02% of the initial value after the intervention and was essentially the same as the pre-test value at 24 hrs.

Peak torque is directly related, among other factors, to the occurrence of fatigue (9) and some of the main factors that attribute to muscle fatigue are the accumulation of metabolites and the decrease in blood supply (i.e., muscle hypoxia) (23). Such conditions are present in the use of the Kaatsu method in which there is a slowing of blood by the arteries to the active muscle while there is the restriction of blood in the veins from leaving the muscles. The ischemia resulting from the blood flow restriction increases lactic acid that stimulates muscle growth, which ultimately promotes the recruitment of fast-twitch fibers) (17).

In agreement with the results of this study, Booth et al. (6), Presland et al. (18), and Sahlin and Seger (20) identified in their studies the same behavior of PT related to PT. The results of the cycling exercise showed that the occurrence of fatigue PT decreased in the extensor muscles of the knees, which resulted in a decrease of 20 to 30%.

According to the attention levels for asymmetry proposed by Marins et al. (15), the counter-lateral thermal asymmetry found in the groups can be considered normal in the anterior and posterior views. The values verified in the present study were 0.31 [+ or -] 0.30[degrees]C in the anterior view and 0.30 [+ or -] 0.21[degrees]C in the posterior view. However, it is important to note that, although the mean asymmetry values of the groups were classified as normal, we observed individual cases of subjects with asymmetry values in the anterior view of approximately 1.0[degrees]C and 0.9[degrees]C for the posterior view. This characterizes prevention care level (0.8[degrees]C to 1.0[degrees]C). According to Marins et al. (15), it is possible that there is asymmetry of the order of 0.4[degrees]C to 0.8[degrees]C, and even then it is considered normal.

Among the buildup of metabolites present in the bloodstream due to strength training, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase are indicators of greater specificity in the diagnosis of muscle damage (3,11). In the present study, the concentration of CK reached its peak at 24 hrs in both methods. Castro et al. (7) reported a similar finding following a single exercise session in which the CK concentration reached its apex at 24 hrs following training. The increase in CK is a function of the muscle damage, especially when eccentric contractions are involved.

As for LDH, a similar response was observed as with the CK. After 24 hrs, LDH reached its peak concentration in both training methods. The increase in LDH in the Kaatsu method may be related to the fact that the vascular occlusion method generated greater muscular and metabolic intensity (19) in addition to the fact that the increase in LDH is likely a function of the decrease in oxygenated blood to the muscles.


This study found that while the Kaatsu method resulted in a greater loss of peak torque, its recovery was better at 24 and 48 hrs after the intervention with a higher peak torque peak versus the Traditional method. In addition, it was found that soon after the intervention, the Kaatsu method had a higher fatigue index and a greater asymmetry versus the Traditional method. Thus, the findings indicate that the Kaatsu training method promoted an increase in the concentration levels of CK, LDH, and lactate besides presenting higher values of fatigue index and peak torque.

Address for correspondence: Felipe J. Aidar - Cidade Universitaria Prof. Jose Aloisio de Campos - Avenida Marechal Rondon, s/n Jardim Rosa Elze - CEP 49100-000 - Sao Cristovao/SE - (79) 2105-6600, (79) 2105-6537


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Natalie de Almeida Barros (1,2), Felipe J Aidar (1,2,3), Dihogo Gama de Matos (3,6), Heleno Almeida Junior (1,2),, Sabrina Mondadori Boaretto (2,3), Raphael Fabricio de Souza (1,2,3,4), Alan Santos Oliveira (5), Luana Mendonca Cercato (5), Enilton Aparecido Camargo (5,7), Afranio de Andrade Bastos (1,2)

(1) Department of Physical Education, (2) Graduate Program in Master's level in Physical Education, Federal University of Sergipe - UFS, Sao Cristovao, Sergipe, Brazil, (3) Group of Studies and Research of Performance, Sport, Health and Paralympic Sports - GEPEPS, the Federal University of Sergipe - UFS, Sao Cristovao, Sergipe, Brazil, (4) Racing Club at the Federal University of Sergipe - UFS, Sao Cristovao, Sergipe, Brazil, (5) Department of Physiology and Pharmacology Inflammatory Process, Federal University of Sergipe - UFS, Sao Cristovao, Sergipe, Brazil, (6) Department of Sports Science, Exercise and Health of the Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro University, Vila Real, Portugal. (7) Nucleus of Research and Health Care of the Worker, Federal University of Sergipe - UFS, Sao Cristovao, Sergipe, Brazil
Table 1. Torque Peak, Fatigue, Anterior Asymmetry, and Posterior
Asymmetry after Traditional and Occlusion Methods (mean [+ or -]
standard deviation).


Traditional Before   1171.15 [+ or -]  97.18
Kaatsu Before        1170.90 [+ or -] 161.76
Traditional After     936.28 [+ or -] 171.14
Kaatsu After          755.38 [+ or -] 119.99 (*)
Traditional 24 hr     987.57 [+ or -] 217.15
Kaatsu 24 hr         1071.94 [+ or -] 177.84
Traditional 48 hr    1019.20 [+ or -] 151.56
Kaatsu 48 hr         1111.24 [+ or -] 240.72
P                       0.007
[f.sup.2] de Cohen      0.357


Traditional Before   26.86 [+ or -] 11.96
Kaatsu Before        26.85 [+ or -] 13.17
Traditional After    36.88 [+ or -] 11.47 (*)
Kaatsu After         42.50 [+ or -]  9.32
Traditional 24 hr    33.18 [+ or -] 15.23 (*)
Kaatsu 24 hr         24.90 [+ or -]  8.45
Traditional 48 hr    25.20 [+ or -] 12.06
Kaatsu 48 hr         19.24 [+ or -]  7.88
P                     0.002
[f.sup.2] de Cohen    0.306

                     Anterior            Posterior
                     Asymmetry           Asymmetry

Traditional Before   0.16 [+ or -] 0.18  0.18 [+ or -] 0.20
Kaatsu Before        0.30 [+ or -] 0.13  0.18 [+ or -] 0.20
Traditional After    0.19 [+ or -] 0.23  0.29 [+ or -] 0.16
Kaatsu After         0.28 [+ or -] 0.18  0.23 [+ or -] 0.11
Traditional 24 hr    0.31 [+ or -] 0.30  0.30 [+ or -] 0.21
Kaatsu 24 hr         0.31 [+ or -] 0.30  0.28 [+ or -] 0.18
Traditional 48 hr    0.21 [+ or -] 0.22  0.29 [+ or -] 0.22
Kaatsu 48 hr         0.22 [+ or -] 0.16  0.14 [+ or -] 0.13
P                    0.873               0.056
[f.sup.2] de Cohen   0.048               0.028

(*) P[less than or equal to]0.05
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Author:Barros, Natalie de Almeida; Aidar, Felipe J.; Gama de Matos, Dihogo; Almeida Junior, Heleno; Boarett
Publication:Journal of Exercise Physiology Online
Article Type:Report
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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