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.
- The primer and the primary exercises should be biomechanically similar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).