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Some of the readers who are new to the Kingdom of Iron are probably wondering what PAP is. Lifting veterans know that it’s an advanced training technique that all serious lifters should have in their arsenal of training modalities.
Post activation potentiation (PAP) is a strategy used to improve performance in power activities and refers to the enhancement of muscle function following a high force activity. Yuri Verhoshansky, famed Russian sports scientist, explained PAP it this way, “When you perform a 3-5 Rep Max followed by a light explosive set to your nervous system it’s like lifting a ½ can of water when you think it’s full.”
What does this mean to us, the lifters? Basically, PAP is a phenomenon in which performance is increased because of previous muscular contractions.
There are many different ways to use PAP in your training. You can harness the power of PAP while maxing out in a lift, trying to create more force in a CAT/Speed set, or trying to create more force in your upper body plyometrics (med ball throws, pushups). You can accomplish these feats by doing a heavy single, heavy 3-5RM set, heavy eccentric, or even a 4-6 second maximal isometric contraction. The PAP inducing modality should be followed by a rest of 3-10 minutes, because you want to balance the fatigue induced by the movement with the PAP produced.
If you are looking to put more force in the bar during your speed sets, do a heavy set of 1-5 reps before you do your speed work. The lighter bar will feel like nothing in your hands, and the explosion/force created will be greater than doing speed sets alone. After all, bar speed and force production are what we are after in our CAT sets.
Use this same theory if you are going to do upper body plyos. Start the workout with a heavy set of bench (3-5 rep range) and follow it with your plyos. The explosion will amaze you.
We can use isometrics and the PAP effect to help us lift more weight on a max out day or competition. This is a method my brother, Josh Bryant, and Jeremy Hoornstra use in his world record setting bench press attempts. 3-7 minutes before you are set to hit the platform, do a maximal isometric contraction against safety pins (or a partner holding the bar, if there is no squat rack) for 5 seconds. For this isometric bench push, set the pins so that they are about halfway between your chest and lockout. Rest until it is time to hit the platform and the bar will feel like it is hardly even there. This is thanks to the extremely powerful effects of Post Activation Potentiation.
This is a great tool to have at your disposal, use it wisely in your training and I promise big results!