Post-Activation Potentiation for Swimmers

Post-Activation Potentiation for Swimmers

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Below is an interview on post-activation potential with Dr. Daniel Boullosa. Daniel is one of the leading sports scientists and you can follow him on Twitter here and his Research Gate page here.

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

I have competitive experience mainly as sprinter and some some experience in soccer and judo. I started to work as coach and consultant for different populations (endurance and team sport athletes, soccer referees, fire-fighters aspirants, etc.) in 2002 after the completion of the Bachelor in Sport and Exercise Sciences. From 2003, I started with my post-graduate formation that finished in 2009 with my PhD in Sport and Exercise Science at University of A Coruña (Spain). During those years I worked on the field and performed research at the same time in Vigo (Spain). Currently, I am working as Lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Sports Training at Catholic University of Brasilia (Brazil) and occasionally as consultant for elite athletes.

2. You recently published an article on cluster training and post-activation potential (PAP). Could you please describe cluster training, your study, and the results?

Cluster training consists basically of introducing rest pauses between repetitions instead of between sets in resistance and jump exercises. We compared the acute effect on jump performance of a set until failure with a set with the same load but with 30 s pauses between repetitions. The major finding was that the cluster set induced a more rapid jump potentiation when compared to the set until failure probably because of the lesser induced fatigue.

3. Based on the findings, how do you feel post-activation potential (PAP) should be used in elite athlete? Swimmers?

For training, it seems that performing resistance exercises before explosive tasks is good but it is not clear if it is chronically better than the opposite combination. During competitions, PAP is very difficult to apply as the exact competitive schedule is unknown in most cases or simply makes very difficult its application. For swimmers, a recent article of Kilduff et al. suggests that it could be applied for a better swim start but more studies are needed in this area.

4. Do you think PAP applies to all muscle groups?

Yes but It depends on the predominant type of fibers of the muscle group. “Slower” muscles would be better conditioned with low-intensity repetitive muscle actions while “faster” muscles would be more benefited from short high-intensity actions.

5. Who are the most controversial or unorthodox researchers in the field of strength and conditioning?

For me, the most controversial researcher in strength and conditioning was Carmelo Bosco who unfortunately left us some years ago. I was very fortunate to meet him in Barcelona in 2000. His main contribution was the battery tests called “Bosco Test” which include sj, cmj and dj. His passionate discussions with his advisor and one of the most important neuromuscular physiologists of all time, Paavo Komi, are legendary.

6. What are the biggest mistakes or myths you see in people attempting PAP?

To perform the jump or sprint exercise immediately after the resistance exercise with no rest pause between them. One interesting thing to take into account in this area is that the greater effectiveness of complex training as commonly performed is still to be elucidated.

7. How specific is PAP? Could someone do heavy squats, then see a transference in upper body bike (ergometer)?

The current knowledge suggests that PAP response is task and muscle group dependent but some cortical and subcortical influences would be expected with more studies still needed.

8. If someone were to perform PAP over time, would they body become accustomed to the training and see diminishing results?

Good question. I think that it depends more on the specific adaptations at the right time. Sometimes PAP is not evident because of very little adaptations that interfere on specific performance. In any case, for sure you will need to train with higher loads for looking for PAP if your best RM is higher than before.

9. Who is doing the most interesting research on resistance training in the field? What are they doing?

There are lots of excellent researchers in neuromuscular area that are working with a number of different topics. I would say some classic authors like Kraemer, Häkkinen, Newton, Behm and McBride who currently act as supervisors and collaborators of others in very different projects. With respect to younger, I like very much the works of excellent researchers like Prue Cormie and Neale Tillin, but the list of colleagues that publish very good works is very large. Justin Hardee has also recently published a series of very interesting papers on cluster set configuration.

10. What makes your research different from others?

I think that the training background of our participants (firefighter aspirants) that favored the study results as they were trained in both endurance and power, which is not a common characteristic of participants in such kind of studies. From a methodological point of view, we incorporated some important assumptions from a recent previous paper of Chaouachi et al. that helped to understand our results.

11. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

Specifically for this late study, Eliseo Iglesias-Soler, Anis Chaouachi, and Dave Behm who is also co-author of the article.

12. What are your favorite books on resistance training?

Fleck and Kraemer’s classic “Designing Resistance Training Programs”, Gonzalez-Badillo and Gorostiaga’s “Strength Training Fundamentals” (in Spanish), and Carmelo Bosco’s “Muscular Strength” (in Spanish).

13. If I were looking for the greatest results in high jump performance, what program would you prescribe over 8 weeks?

The program would depend on your performance tests and your training background, and -more importantly- It would be adapted to your day-by-day response to training. For me, the most important thing for training is not the program, is the direct supervision and adaptation of that program on an individual basis.

16. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

With respect to sports performance, we are evaluating fatigue-potentiation responses in ultra-endurance athletes and also immunological, neuromuscular, and cardiovascular adaptations to training in different disciplines. In respect to exercise and health, we are starting to work on autonomic adaptations to stress and depression.


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