The Power of Warm-Ups
Published at 27 Mar 2018 | Posted by Allsports Nutrition
What is PAP and what can it do for your warm-up?

PAP and Warm-Ups Previous research has shown that including some very high-resistance exercises such as high load leg presses in a warm up procedure before a subsequent 20km time trial, can produce a dramatic increase in cycling performance.

The answer to this lies in something known as post-activation muscle potentiation (PAP), which is a well-established phenomenon in sport. Whilst the science of PAP is sound, the problem for most cyclists (or any endurance athlete) about to embark on an event is that leg-press machines or squat racks are not usually found near the start line. To resolve this, researchers have been exploring whether a more practical warm up applying the same principles could be an effective alternative - and the results look promising.

The Research

A team of British researchers at the University of Chester looked at whether they could induce PAP in the leg muscles by using a more convenient alternative to weight loading - some high intensity bursts on the bike during the pre-race warm up routine. They tested 10 well-trained male endurance cyclists, performing 2 x 4km time trials on separate occasions with two different warm up procedures: the first warm up was simply pedalling at low intensity , the other was low intensity pedalling combined with 3 x 10 second bursts at 70% of peak power.

The Results

The key finding was that when the cyclists performed the PAP-inducing warm up containing the high intensity bursts, they completed the time trial significantly faster, knocking just under two seconds off and averaging five extra watts of power. More research is of course needed to determine the best combination of burst intensity, length and recovery interval, but for now 3 x 10 second bursts with a 30 second recovery time between each is a good place to start.

More Suggestions

Start with five minutes at low to moderate intensity pedalling then add in the bursts. Ensure the bursts are performed at the end of the warm-up and that no longer than ten minutes elapses between the end of your warm up and the beginning of the event (as the PAP effects will fade after this time). Use a relatively high gear for your bursts - this will increase the force and involvement of fast-twitch muscles fibres in your legs, which will enhance the PAP effects. The PAP method can be applied to other endurance sports and is not just cycling-specific. You just need to find a convenient way to add in high-intensity effort bursts near to the start line of your chosen event.

Reference: Andrew Hamilton, Peak Performance Issue 364


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