Increased Power Output With Post-Activation Potentiation
Weightlifters and powerlifters, sprint cyclists and runners, both high and long jumpers step on the competition stage with a goal to lift the most weight, finish in the fastest time, jump the highest or longest distance setting records and winning competitions.
Optimal performance requires strength and speed for each of these sports. Meaning, athlete’s must produce high rate of muscular force development to be successful. Enhancing rate of force development starts behind closed doors and not with warm-up lifts or a dynamic warm-up, but with the PowerDot smart muscle stimulator.
PowerDot harnesses the technology of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) priming each individual skeletal muscle fiber to contract faster and with more force. This priming is referred to as potentiation and improves muscular power output.
PowerDot, best muscle stimulator on the market, is at the forefront of increasing power output performance. Utilizing cutting edge bluetooth technology, muscle electrical stimulation signals are sent through the muscle fibers exciting them to contract. A scientifically designed preset “potentiating” protocol takes the guess-work out of enhancing human power performance.
Utilizing electrical muscle stimulation for recovery has gained a lot of popularity. Also, implementing neuromuscular electrical stimulation in training influences chronic adaptations to muscle strength and hypertrophy. However, it is often overlooked how using PowerDot smart muscle stimulation technology can acutely influence power output.
Power and strength get a lot of attention in athletics and these terms are often used interchangeably. However, they have different distinct meanings. Strength is the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate whereas muscular power is defined as the rate of performing work. More specifically, power is equal to force multiplied by velocity.
Equation: Lots of Force + Really Fast = High Power
Increase rate of force development… increase power… increase performance. The ability to generate high power output is the single most important performance variable in athletic performance.
So, how does NMES acutely (within a few minutes) increase power output? NMES acutely increases power output through what’s called Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP). This induces greater motor unit recruitment and crossbridge cycling without inducing fatigue.
If you could increase your power output without any additional training, so all you had to do was use PowerDot, would you not want to take advantage of that?
Before we dive too much into how PowerDot should be your go too before any competition, it’s important to go over the background and physiology behind PAP and how NMES can then be used.
Defining Post-Activation Potentiation
Post-Activation Potentiation, PAP for short, is an increase in the amplitude of a muscle twitch that continues a few minutes after a conditioning contraction. This conditioning contraction may either be from a voluntary contraction or, as we will explore later, elicited by NMES.
PAP is this physiological phenomenon in which there is an enhancement in force exerted by a muscle due to previous repetitive contractions of that muscle. Both muscle force production and rate of force development increase as a result of previous activation of the muscle resulting in maximizing acute power development in athletes.
A practical example would be to do a really heavy front-squat or deadlift (near maximal loads)...this would be your conditioning stimulus, to elicit PAP as you go to hit a personal best on your clean and jerk.
You could utilize the NMES technology of PowerDot to provide a conditioning stimulus and prevent any potential for fatigue… again, more on this later.
A Brief History of PAP
PAP has been used within strength and conditioning circles for the last 30 years and still more and more research is coming out on this topic. It’s speculated that the concept of PAP originated in the early 1980’s after German strength physiologist Dietmar Schmidtbleicher’s work was translated to english. Though stories are told that Yuri Verhoshansky first introduced PAP to a small group of U.S. and Canadian strength coaches in 1986 at the Moscow Institute of Sport. Though, Charles Poliquin recalls his first time hearing about PAP being at the National Strength and Conditioning Conference in 1991. Though the origins PAP remain unsettled, what we do know is that it was implemented almost immediately at the highest levels of competition.
Now, this may be a fictitious story, but rumor has it that Canadian Sprinter Ben Johnson warmed-up with sets of maximal squats minutes prior to his 1988 Olympic 100m sprint world record of 9.79 seconds. Though his medal was later revoked due to a positive test result for performance enhancing drugs, one can’t help but think if squatting heavy potentiated his muscles giving him world record speed.
Researchers Güllich and Schmidtbleicher have reported that a bobsledding team did something similar to elicit PAP and it resulted in a world championship in 1995. These sam two researchers have shown jump height to increase after doing multiple sets of 5 second maximal isometric contractions which leads us to believe this story a little more.
Either way… there’s something to be said about PAP and its impact on performance.
But how does this work? It seems backwards that lifting heavy before competition would actually improve performance.
Physiological Mechanisms Behind PAP
When it comes to the science of the human body, nothing is black and white and we are surrounded by theories. For instance, the sliding filament theory tells us how our muscles contract at the sarcomere level, the deepest layer of skeletal muscle. It’s still just a theory, but nothing else makes any more sense or has proved it wrong so we roll with it.
The proposed mechanisms of PAP are governed by two theories.
Theory number one suggests that the conditioning contraction results in the phosphorylation of myosin and renders actin-myosin more sensitive to calcium released from the sarcoplasmic reticulum in following muscle contractions. This may increase crossbridge cycling, so actin and myosin are connecting and “sliding” faster resulting in more force being applied at higher velocities (ie. increased power).
The second theory behind PAP is due to the H-Reflex (named after Paul Hoffman who first described it). Strength training prior to competition increases synaptic excitation within the spinal cord, consequently increasing the postsynaptic potential of the motor neuron. So, there is an increase in the efficiency and rate of nerve impulses resulting in an increase of force generating capacity of the muscles. The motor neuron is more excitable and ready to fire!
It’s still hard to convince someone that lifting heavy prior to competition will actually be beneficial for performance.
Does PAP work if someone lifts lighter?
Nope! And the reason why is that PAP is dependent on stimulation of Type II fibers. The size principle and principle of orderly recruitment states that muscle fibers will be recruited in the order of Type I first and then Type II. So if the stimulus is not heavy enough to activate as many Type II fibers as possible, PAP may not happen.
PowerDot and PAP
Everything we have discussed so far has been directed towards voluntary contractions… Lift something heavy and it results in PAP. However, as alluded to earlier, NMES may be a more efficient way to promote similar performance benefits.
There’s a fine line between fatigue and PAP when lifting something heavy before competition. If an athlete does too much and is fatigued, performance will decrease. If the athlete finds the porridge that’s just right (like Goldy Locks), power output will increase.
What’s phenomenal about utilizing NMES with Powerdot is that there is already a preset potentiation protocol. Utilizing electrical muscle stimulation with PowerDot eliminates the central fatigue worry associated with voluntary contractions. NMES bypasses the central nervous system and stimulates Type II muscles fibers directly.
Using NMES as the conditioning contraction, as opposed to maximal voluntary contractions, may elicit a greater potentiating effect increasing muscular torque and power.
By not having PowerDot in your pocket…
Side note, literally, all the technology can fit in your pocket or your clutch (a really small purse for all the manly dudes out there) and take up less room than your cell phone.
So, by not having PowerDot in your pocket, you’re robbing yourself of optimized power production and personal bests. Whether it’s weightlifting, powerlifting, sprint cycling or running, jumping, whatever your sport may be, PowerDot is designed to optimize your performance both in sport and in life.