Simple Performance Enhancement Training

How to Use Post-Activation Training

Ever used Post-Activation Performance Enhancement? Sounds complex, but it’s a simple way to tap into fast-twitch muscle fibers. Check it out.

Post-Activation Performance Enhancement

Beneath the physique of every serious lifter is a powerful nervous system. It’s time we all took advantage of it.

Post-Activation Performance Enhancement (PAPE) describes the temporary improvement of muscle performance following an initial high-threshold exercise. (1) Basically, the first exercise primes your nervous system for peak performance on the next.

Traditional PAPE sequences place a heavy movement, like a back squat, before a related ballistic or plyometric exercise, like jumping or sprinting. So, PAPE is well-appreciated for improving explosive performance. But how can lifters interested in getting strong and shredded benefit?

PAPE also works in the reverse order: A ballistic exercise can enhance a traditional lift. The first exercise enhances power in the second exercise, which means we’re tapping into fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are extremely trainable and have great potential for hypertrophy. PAPE sequences will also hype you up and improve your athleticism.

How to Do It

  1. The primer and the primary exercises should be biomechanically similar.
  2. Perform 2-3 sets of a plyometric or ballistic “primer” exercise immediately before your primary exercise. Keep the primer low-rep (3 to 5), relatively low load, with a high intent for speed.
  3. Rest intervals are a balancing act. We must minimize fatigue while remaining within the effective PAPE timeframe. Optimal PAPE occurs 3-7 minutes following the final primer set, but benefits may last up to 20 minutes. (1, 2) A two-minute rest is a good place to start for hypertrophy, while 3-4 minute rests are more appropriate for strength goals.

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  1. Blazevich AJ & Babault N. Post-activation potentiation versus post-activation performance enhancement in humans: historical perspective, underlying mechanisms, and current issues. Front Physiol. 2019;10:1359.
  2. Wilson JM et al. Meta-analysis of post-activation potentiation and power: effects of conditioning activity, volume, gender, rest periods, and training status. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(3).