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P90X2’s Big Deal: Post-Activation Potentiation (P.A.P)

“This program [P90x2], far more than anything before it, is geared towards improving sports performance more than aesthetics. You are going to want it.” — Steve Edwards, P90X & P90X2 Program Designer

Going into the months before we hit P90X2, you’re going to be hearing a lot about Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP). I’ve already covered it a bit here at HDIGF with my review of the P90X 1 on 1 PAP workout but that was a general overview. I wanted to give a little more depth so you can understand WHY P90X2 and P.A.P are going to rock your socks off… and give you a pedicure while they’re at it. After all, I like to know how things work and why. Yeah, it’s geektastic but I feel it’s better to understand what you’re doing over simply going through  the motions and all that. So… here’s to hoping you do, too.

3…2…1… Blast off:

What is P.A.P. (Post-Activation Potentiation)?

P.A.P has been known in some circles as “complex training” but the two names are all the same thing: basically, heavy strength training (resistance) and plyometric (jumping) movement decided to get together and have a baby. In short, the P.A.P theory is that MORE muscle cells are recruited to work after being activated after a strength exercise, which then improve explosive power and performance in actions like sprints, lateral movement and jumping.. IE- athletics. Obviously, compounded over time, the idea is you’re going to train better… which translates into better performance and better yet… injury resistance.

PAP In Action

Where’d P.A.P. Theory Come From?

As a relatively new training science, P.A.P. started gaining a reputation in the 80’s after Russian athletic scientist/researcher/doctor Yuri Verhkoshansky introduced the theory of PAP to U.S. and Canadian Olympic strength coaches*.

P90X2’s basis comes from the elite P.A.P.-focused training  facility known as P3. P3 has come of its own in the last four years and only trains the very most elite of professional and Olympic athletes– including members of virtually every NBA, NFL and MLB team out there. P3 is incredibly science-based, so here’s their sciency explanation:

Underlying Mechanisms of PAP

1. Heavy loading prior to an explosive movement 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 (Chiu, Fry, Weiss, et al 2003) .

2. Along with more central nervous system stimulation, PAP has been attributed to Phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains, meaning that following a heavy strength movement actin and myosin which function together to generate force and muscle contractions are more sensitive to calcium and more active. The greater the phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein, the faster the rate of contraction and tension (Chiu, Fry, Weiss, et al 2003).

3. Another scientific finding that explains this effect is the enhancement of the H-reflex, increasing the rate of neurotransmission to the muscles (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

At P3, we have found that the increased motor unit recruitment, nervous system excitability and reflex potentiation following a high load strength movement does indeed lead to optimum conditions for subsequent explosive movements.

Summary? P.A.P. works and works “GOOD”.

How Does PAP Work in P90x2?

PAP is the crown jewel in P90X2’s training program and one you’re not even “allowed” to hit until you’ve gone through and mastered the first two phases of stability and strength leading up to it. Personally, I love that approach: Training THEN Application THEN Mastery. Since we’re all different, the effects of P.A.P. will kick in differently with different individuals and that’s where the whole P90X2 training program comes in– to get you there.

Obviously, I’m pretty excited about it. This program is about more than simply looking good with your shirt off –or in a tank top– (a nice benefit, for sure)– it’s about making you BETTER… and I love that.

Get A Practice Preview of PAP

The last series of the P90X2 1 On 1 series has an exclusive workout that has Tony Horton introducing you to PAP. It’s fun. It’s sweaty. It’s challenging. I highly recommend picking it up. Check out my review of the 1 On 1 PAP and then pick it up for yourself for a little pre-P90X2 practice right here (it’s the last workout in the drop-down called “P.A.P”.)

In the mean time, Pre-Order P90X2 here.

As always, I’m here to help as you need it. To make me your free Beachbody Coach for all the support and info you need as you roll through your P90X program, sign up right here.

*From this summary. 

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11 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Romall Smith says:

    Good post man, really explains more about PAP, gives me an idea for a post too

  2. Karen says:

    very nice! thanks for the info!

  3. Craig says:

    Pretty insightful. Thanks!

  4. Josh Spencer says:

    Great post bro! Something that I didn’t know much about until P90X2.

  5. Matt Edwards says:

    P90X2 is going to be crazy!

  6. […] Read an article here: PAP Article […]

  7. Scooter says:

    So how does this compare to asylum series if both geared toward athletic performance? and am i the only one still reading this blog?LoL

    • Coach Dan V. says:

      Hey Scooter-

      No way, man. This blog is still read by many. You’re in good company, man.

      X2 is a more comprehensive program if athletic performance is your goal. It’s 90 days– think of it as off-season training. Asylum is 30 days- think of it as “Gotta get ready quick”.

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