Thursday, August 12, 2010
I haven’t blogged this week because I’m studying something called post-activation potentiation (PAP) at my buddy Marcus’ training faclitly in Santa Barbara. You’ll be hearing more about Marcus, or Dr. Marcus Elliott, in the future as he’s signed on to help us create fitness solutions for every demographic (especially the highest level). Marcus and I have a long history, dating back to his undergraduate years when we were both spending most of our time experimenting with diets and training protocols. But more on this later. Today I want to introduce you to PAP because it’s going to play a part in our future programs.
PAP is revolutionizing the way we train athletes. It’s not yet popular in the US but Marcus (or Dr. Elliott for those of you who prefer white coat visuals) has been using it with great success on athletes at the highest levels. His training facility, P3 (Peak Performance Project), is only open to professional and high level athletes (and a few local extremely-lucky high school programs). His client list includes the Utah Jazz, Seattle Mariners, and many other professional, collegiate, and Olympic athletes.
An aside—last night there were some high schoolers training next to a few Olympians and I asked one of the P3 trainers if these kids had any idea how lucky they were. When I was a (rather obsessed) high school athlete I was doing all of my own training, most of it experimental, because our coaches new nothing about high-level training, nutrition, or supplementation. I can’t even imagine how different my career would have been with the minds of P3 behind it. The only downside is that I probably would have missed out on my human lab rat moniker if I didn’t have to figure out what worked (and didn’t) on my own.
Anyway, until a few days ago I knew almost nothing about PAP training. I actually had experimented with something very much like it (maybe I should add an of course here) but never made enough sense to me to test it thoroughly. But a group of scientists, including Marcus, has had amazing success training high level athletes with it. So much so that it's turning the way we train for peak human performance on its head. The gist of it is two fold. First:
“that prior heavy loading induces a high degree of central nervous system stimulation, resulting in greater motor unit recruitment and force, which can last from five-to-thirty minutes”
“PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle”
In laymen terms, this means that doing heavy lifting prior to explosive activity can actually help you fire higher threshold muscle cell motor units which, even even simpler terms, means that you will jump higher, run faster, or life more weight.
A good real world application is one P3 athlete who warmed up for a 100 meter race doing heavy squats prior to setting a PR.
It’s all very fascinating stuff and I’m like a kid in a candy store at P3. Between training sessions Marcus and I brainstorm about how to best lay this into the P90X template in the future. The coming months will be filled with revelations.
pics: above, me, marcus, and us ski team member/singer-songwriter bryon friedman watch the overachieving jazz kick some celt tail. below, p3 ain't your father's training facility. note dr. elliott in a background interpreting computer screen readings (to members of ucla's national champion softball team and their coach, the legendary lisa fernandez) of a dynamic jump test showing the subjects strengths and weaknesses.