Train Like an Athlete:
PAP Training for Sprinting and Jumping
     Often with general-population fitness enthusiasts, our goals are centered around looking good, moving better, and staying healthy. However, for those of us who enjoy a good Catalyst Challenge, play a sport, or get a little competitive with themselves, training focused on improving strength and power performance is paramount to long-term success in your athletic endeavors

PAP (or Post-Activation Potentiation)
  • combines strength and power training into one workout using specific percentages of your maximum strength in a given exercise, rest times just long enough to fully replenish your ability to be explosive, and an applicable power exercise to your given sport or activity
  • not for your beginner or novice gym goer
  • best and most safely utilized by someone who has experience training at high loads and high speeds.
Step 1: Heavy Movement
     PAP training starts with a “conditioning activity” as it’s referred to in the scientific literature. This does not refer to time on the rower or the ski erg, but an activity of significantly high loading to “condition” the body to be prepared for what is to come. This is typically a heavy compound movement such as a barbell squat, deadlift, or bench press (7).  Better performance is seen using heavier loads of up to 90% of your 1 repetition max for 1-3 reps (4). This is why PAP is only suited for advanced athletes and gym goers – you must be skilled and strong in order to benefit from PAP (11)(10).  It is best to pick a movement that applies to your chosen power activity for step 3. For example: A heavy squat paired with a jump, a deadlift paired with a sprint, or even a weighted pull-up paired with a short ski erg sprint. 
Step 2: Rest
     It’s really important to rest enough during PAP training. While you may not be breathing hard, your body goes through a period of fatigue and adaptation after your heavy set in step 1.  The general rule is the more volume (or number of reps) completed in step one, the more rest you get. Both upper and lower body rest times have been successfully tested at around 7-10min (11)(3), but very little difference is seen between 5-10-15-20min in terms of peak power output in step 3 (6).  My recommendation would be to take at least 5min rest, but if you are feeling fried there is no shame in resting longer if it means you work harder and perform better when step 3 comes (8)(9). 
Step 3: Power Movement
     The final selection is a power movement that applies to your sport (or Catalyst Challenge). If you play a field sport (soccer, football, ultimate frisbee) that requires you to intermittently sprint you may want to pick a 5-10m sprint as your power movement. 5-10m sprint times were improved in professional rugby players when they used 91% of their 1RM as their step 1 movement (1). If you play a court sport (basketball, volleyball, badminton) where you are required to jump high you may want to pick a counter-movement or vertical jump. A maximally loaded 3 rep back squat has been shown to significantly improve a vertical jump with individualized rest times (2).

     Once step 3 is completed, you should take another rest period of at least 5min to replenish your ability to perform at maximum intensity before returning to step 1. The ability to perform at maximum intensity is the most important factor to this training, and is the reason why the rest breaks feel so long. By training with this method you will increase your sprint speed, jump height, or whatever explosive activity you aim it at. Use your best judgment, train smart, and train safe when using tools of the caliber.  
Written By: 
Phil Tungate
Strength and Conditioning Specialist


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