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Training Principle You Have To Live By: P.A.P

The previous posts outlined S.A.I.D, Progressive Overload and the use of Novelty in your training program. These principle all require consistency of practice & time for the adaptation to express itself.

The current principle being examine is less of a ‘principle’ and more of a ‘hack’ – because the effects of it are felt within a single session.

(P.A.P) Post Activation Potentiation

Originally defined by Robbins,8 PAP is a phenomenon by which the force exerted by a muscle is increased due to its previous contraction. 

Lorenz, Daniel. “Postactivation potentiation: an introduction.” International journal of sports physical therapy vol. 6,3 (2011): 234-40.

The exercise you do first influences the performance of the exercise you do second. Depending on the intensity of the first, the second exercise will either be negatively or positively influenced in regards to strength/power/performance.

Obviously we want to focus on the positive enhancements. But lets not completely disregard the negative because we can learn from that too = the fatigue from an initial exercise can degrade the performance of the next if there is not sufficient recovery between the two. If you practice too much at a ‘degraded’ performance level then your body will adapt to only being able to perform at that level, therefore stymying your progress.

How To P.A.P

  • REST MORE = 3 – 12 minutes before fatigue stops masking the potentiating effect. This depends on the fitness level of the athlete
  • First Exercise: use heavy weight = at lest 80% of your 1 rep max
  • Second Exercise: lighter and explosive or longer in duration

Most of the studies have shown that the first exercise should be a Back Squat. But you can use any compound movement.

The second exercise can pretty much be anything else. Although it should be something specific to your weakness or sport.

A note of caution, P.A.P should only be used by more experienced lifters, or with guidance from a coach.

Why P.A.P

Simply because it works. P.A.P produces short term improvements when done right. Accumulation of short term improvements leads to long term improvement. This is the goal of Training.