Post activation potentiation (PAP) is the bodies potentiating response to a near maximal activity prior to a different movement. The effect is a higher rate of force output and this response can last from 2 to 12 minutes. Several mechanisms can cause this effect. The first reason is the amount of motor recruitment in fast twitch muscle fibers is greatly increased. The second reason is increased myosin light chain phosphorylation. This means that myosin has a higher rapid rate of binding to actin, which in turn means faster muscle contraction.
Now, if you are a speed-power athlete then you could see how PAP can help. Faster muscle contraction for a 100 meter dash could be the difference between winning and losing. A higher amount of fast twitch muscle recruitment could mean a new personal record for the clean and jerk. So what can you do to take advantage of this phenomenon?
There are multiple ways to achieve this, near maximal quarter squats prior to a power activity, resisted sprints before un-resisted sprints, or heavy dead lifts prior to Olympic lifting. The key is to make sure fatigue doesn’t cause the performance to be hindered. A recovery period should be implemented prior to the competition lasting longer than 2-3 minutes but shorter than 12 minutes.
PAP is also better used for athletes that are highly trained and can handle what is effectively a training stimulus prior to a competition. An untrained individual won’t elicit the same response and may be too fatigued from the potentiating exercise to compete at a high level. PAP may be a mouthful and also a new technique for many, but is very beneficial for speed-power athletes. When it comes to elite level performance, athletes are looking for every advantage they can have. Keep PAP in mind when trying to get every bit of potential out of your athletes.
Rixon, KP, HS Lamont , and MG Bemben. “Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance..” Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 21.2 (2007): 500-505. Print.