Post-activation potentiation techniques are commonly used during training sessions to transiently enhance sprinting or jumping performance. The barbell back squat, deadlift and Olympic lifts tend to be the most commonly used potentiating exercises. Each of these movements predominantly involve vertical force production which would be optimal for vertical jumping and peak velocity sprinting. However, for improving acceleration ability, a potentiating exercise that involves horizontal force production (i.e., the barbell hip-thrust) may be an effective alternative to squat and deadlift variations. Acceleration ability may be more important than peak running velocity in team sport athletes who rarely achieve maximum, uninterrupted running speeds. However, research investigating the potentiating effects of the barbell hip-thrust on acceleration performance is limited.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Sports Sciences evaluated the acute effects of barbell hip-thrusting on subsequent short-distance sprint performance. Eighteen male team-sport athletes performed two different experimental protocols of hip-thrusting followed by electronic-timed sprints in a randomized-crossover design. The first experimental protocol involved sets of hip-thrusts loaded up with 50% of 1RM. The second protocol involved sets of hip-thrusts loaded up with 85% of 1RM. Fifteen m sprint times were assessed at baseline, 15 seconds, 4 minutes and 8 minutes following each protocol. The researchers wanted to determine how moderate versus heavy loads impact acceleration ability compared to baseline performance and between conditions.
At 15 seconds post-hip-trust using 85% of 1RM, sprinting speed was significantly higher (i.e., impaired). Both protocols resulted in significantly faster sprint times at 4 minutes and 8 minutes post-hip-thrust. Comparing the two protocols against each other, sprint times were faster at 4 minutes and 8 minutes following the protocol using 85% of 1RM. Individual 1RM barbell hip-thrust values were positively associated with individual post-activation potentiation sprint responses. This means that individuals with stronger hip-thrust strength saw the biggest changes in sprint performance following the experimental protocol. The authors conclude that heavy and moderate barbell hip-thrust loads can positively affect acute sprint performance. However, the sprint performance is affected by recovery time between protocol and sprinting (i.e., 4 – 8 minutes rest is required) as well as individual strength level.
Dello Iacano, A. et al. Loaded hip thrust-based PAP protocol effects on acceleration and sprint performance of handball players. Journal of Sports Sciences, Ahead of print.