You may or may not of heard of a training strategy referred to as 'PAP training', (this means post activation potentiation training).
Have you ever seen videos of pro players out on the pitch doing sets of barbell squats, immediately followed by sprints and wondered what's going on?
That's PAP training.
It's more of an advanced method for breaking through a plateau in speed.
Don't worry, it's much simpler than it sounds - here's the theory behind it...
The idea is that by first using an exercise which causes some fatigue to the lower body, you can get the muscles excited and fire up a greater % of each muscle group.
The result is increased performance in the subsequent exercise and greater training adaptations, due to the ability to produce greater force as the working muscles have been primed.
- Heavy barbell squats followed by a 15m sprint.
- Heavy deadlifts followed by broad jumps.
- Squat jumps followed by a 15m sprint.
Going a little deeper, you are specifically aiming to fire up your type II muscle fibers which aid short bursts of speed and explosiveness.
The greater % of them you can fire up within a muscle, the greater the force output will be.
However, it doesn't necessarily need to be a heavy exercise into a light exercise, you can also use a medium exercise into a medium exercise.
Another way of putting it is:
- Power + Power (squat jumps straight into a lightly loaded sled sprint).
- Or Strength + Light (barbell squats into a normal sprint, may require a short rest period between exercises to relieve some fatigue).
Both of these strategies will target the type II muscle fibers.
To be more scientific, the whole process is built around trying to activate more motor units within your muscle.
Think of a christmas tree in your front room, covered in lights.
Each individual light is a muscle fiber.
The energy each light receives in order to work reaches them via the long wire which is plugged into the wall.
The lights are the fibers, the wire and plug is the neuron. Together they form what's called a 'motor unit' (the fibers + the neuron).
Now imagine that your front room is rammed with 50 christmas trees, all with their own sets of lights and individual wire which leads to another plug in the wall.
That entire front room is your muscle, and the lights are your muscle fibers.
The aim of the first exercise is to flick the on switch, on as many of the plugged in trees as possible.
The more plugs you can turn on, the more light there will be in the front room.
The more motor units you can switch on, the more force can be produced.
That's the whole idea, and the hope is that over-time your body will switch on a greater % of the motor units in each of your working muscles naturally, making you a more explosive athlete thanks to this type of training.
Hopefully you think that's pretty cool. As with most things, test and try it on yourself first. Experiment and see what works best for you.
I'd love to hear about your experiences with PAP training. It may just be a simple case of chucking in a few deadlifts before your next sprint session, to try and get an even better training adaptation.
It really depends on what equipment you have available to you.
I hope that's helped cut through the nonsense a little and explained in a simpler way how PAP training works :)