Abstract:There is no clear agreement regarding the ideal combination of factors needed to optimize Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) following a conditioning activity. Therefore a meta analysis was conducted to evaluate the effects of training status, volume, rest period length, conditioning activity, and gender on power augmentation due to PAP. A total of 141 Effect Sizes (ES) for muscular power were obtained from a total of 32 primary studies, which met our criteria of investigating the effects of a heavy pre conditioning activity on power in randomized human trials. The mean overall ES for muscle power was 0.38 following a conditioning activity (p <0.05). Significant differences were found between moderate intensity (60-84 %) 1.06 and heavy intensity (>85 %) 0.31 (P < 0.05). There were overall significant differences found between single sets 0.24 and multiple sets 0.66 (P < 0.05). Rest periods of 7-10 minutes (0.7) following a conditioning activity resulted in greater ES than 3-7 minutes (0.54), which was greater than rest periods of >10 minutes (0.02) (P < 0.05). Significant differences were found between untrained 0.14 and athletes 0.81, as well as between trained 0.29 and athletes. The primary findings of this study were that a conditioning activity augmented power output, and these effects increased with training experience, but did not differ significantly between genders. Moreover, potentiation was optimal following multiple (vs. single) sets, performed at moderate intensities, and using moderate rest periods lengths (7-10 minutes).
Discussion:Complex training (PAP, or “Post-Activation-Potentiation”) is talked about a lot in training circles. Example of PAP: Perform 3 reps on the squat with 80% of your 1RM as fast as possible, and use this exercise to "supercharge" your CNS. Use the charge to boost performance on a dynamic exercise you perform 1-15 minutes later, such as maximal vertical jumps, plyometrics, or sprinting. Some hold complex training as a mystic key to unlocking athletic development, and many vertical jump programs you can buy online are littered with this type of training. So is it any good? I have looked for meta-analysis on this type of training in the past, and this current study is as good as it gets for the proper utilization of this method.
In terms of athletes best suited for complex training, the researcher found that athletes with more than 3 years of resistance training experience appear to respond optimally to this type of work. Regarding the intensity of the coupled strength exercise, lower intensities are found to be better than high ones. This intensity is to the tune of 60-84% of the 1RM, rather than the very high intensities that some sources advocate. High intensities, such as 85+% will be nice for nervous system stimulation, but awful when it comes to mechanical trauma on the body that will reduce the effectiveness of whatever speed based exercise is tied on. Lighter weights work better than really heavy ones in PAP.
Athletes with more training experience were found to respond better to complex training, and also were found to respond better to greater volume in terms of multiple sets of this type of effort. Beginners were better suited to lower sets, as they experienced reductions in power through repetitive versions of complex sets. An important key to remember when working speed and power is not to let the power drop; you don’t get fast by training slow!
In summary, complex training making use of “PAP” can be a useful tool in a coaches toolbox, but it can be the best when using moderate weights and sets appropriate to the current level of the athlete. The researchers also suggested 7-10 minute rest breaks between the “potentiator” and the speed based exercise. I can guarantee that this is NOT practiced by 95% of all PAP trainees.
So, lower the weight a bit, don’t let the power drop, and wait a good 7-10 minutes between strength and speed efforts, and see what PAP can do for you! Hopefully this is only the beginning of more good insight into this training methodology.