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P90X2, 1 On 1 and Our Pal: Post-Activation Potentiation

Post-Activation Potentiation sounds super scientific. But before your eyes glaze over and you get a headache from slamming your face into the keyboard after falling asleep reading “Post-Activation Potentiation” and thinking “Oh man– technical fitness geekery”, stay with me. After all, next time you want to impress friends, family or the random stranger, throwing that tongue twister out there will, at the least, make you sound super smart.

So yeah, P.A.P sounds fancy, but what it basically boils down to is throwing big weight and power reps at the front of a series of moves, followed by using the same muscles —differently— in short bursts immediately after. IE–it’s the muscle version of “no man left behind”. The result? Bigger, Faster, Stronger. P90X2 is built on the theory (1 on 1 Volume 3 uses a similar technique) and it’s turned sports training on its head.

What I’m increasingly loving about the P90X One on One is the interview portion. On this disc, Tony interviews Steve Edwards about the theory and practice behind Post-Activation Potentiation. The moves, their hows and whys are explained so when you go throwing your body around and warm up by skipping like a little girl in a field of clover, you know the method behind the madness. From my favorite dude, Beachbody mogul and fellow Utah resident Steve Edwards:

“…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… thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle….In laymen terms, [PAP] 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.”

P.A.P. P90X Style

The latest P90X One on One sweatily introduces the P.A.P. concept. The P90X workout is broken into Four “Complexes” or groups of sequential moves that, in total, makes up a 70 minute workout. Each Complex is a series of repeated moves for warm-up, upper body workout, lower body workout and cool down/stretch. Here’s what I mean:

Crazy Warmups

Behold, the  joys of… skipping. And walking on your heels And kicking. And hopping. No, this isn’t your standard stretch and you may even find yourself wondering, “What ARE these grade-school shenanigans?”  As it turns out, those “grade-school shenanigans” are both fun AND functional as they fire up neuro-muscular connections for performance endurance.

Upper Body Karate Chop

In this second complex, PAP works the upper body. While the moves may not seem super intense at first, (especially for seasoned P90Xers…”Pushups? Pffffft”) a series of pushup rows are followed by plyo claps and finished off with a “Under the fence” pushup. You do this four times and you’re burning and quivering by the fourth run through.

Lower Body Pile Driver

In the third complex, upper body gets a break and the large, oxygen sucking leg group gets their turn to play. This is tough right from the start depending on the weight you pick for the first move. Power lunges (a lunge front and back using the same leg without touching the ground between) had my legs screaming before they were sent crying to their Mama with jumping lunges right after. The last move is a set of jumping “Mary Katherine” lunges followed by a side plank leg raise. Four sets later I looked liked I’d just stepped out of  a sauna.

Stretch-tastic Cool Down

The fourth complex is a cool down stretch using a towel or bands to extend and “pull” your legs. This is about seven or eight minutes long and gives a nice breather after complex two and three exhaustion.

When it was all said and done, I gotta say– I loved it. My legs were weak and rubberiffic as I climbed the stairs and my body felt worked. I’ll definitely be adding this to the mix with Legs and Back. If you’re interested in ordering the P.A.P workout, you can make it happen right here (scroll to the bottom of the list to see it).

In the mean time, got questions? Want to learn more? Hit me up in the Comments section below, at dan74 @ or Facebook. I’m here to help.


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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Karen says:

    very clever… you actually caught my attention… great article!

  2. Jim says:

    very articulate and knowledgeable post Dan, these are killer moves. the sequential moves really take P90X up a notch.

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