As the topic of post-activation continues to receive greater attention among coaches and researchers, teams are experimenting with a variety of pre-training resistance training bouts in an effort to acutely enhance performance. One of the variables that remains unclear in the literature is the optimal load that athletes should use to induce a meaningful effect on game-performance parameters, such as repeated sprinting ability. For example, performing barbell back squats with light to moderate loads allows the athlete to perform a greater number of repetitions at a higher propulsive velocity. Theoretically, this may result in increased contraction velocity during subsequent athletic tasks. On the other hand, performing the same exercise with heavy loads forces the athlete to perform fewer repetitions at a lower propulsive velocity. This may result in greater force production on the field. Which method is superior?
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Human Kinetics evaluated the effects of two different post-activation potentiation protocols on athletic performance variables in national and regional level soccer players. A total of sixteen soccer players (8 from each level), approximately 20 years of age participated in the study. On three occasions, all subjects performed a repeated sprint ability test (6 x 20 m sprints with 20 s of recovery between reps) preceded by a) a control condition, b) squatting with 60% of 1RM allowing for a mean concentric velocity of 1.0 m/s and c) squatting with 90% of 1RM allowing for a mean concentric velocity of 0.5 m/s. The testing order was randomized and separated by several days. Peak and mean running speed was recorded for each athlete during the repeated sprint test.
The results showed that squatting with 90% of 1RM loads prior to the test resulted in large improvements in both peak and mean sprinting speed among the national level players but only a small improvement for regional players. Comparing all sprints between groups, the national level players had consistently greater improvements in sprinting speed following the heavy squatting protocol (90% of 1RM). The 60% of 1RM squat protocol provoked minimal changes in repeated sprint performance among groups. These results indicate that incorporating heavy squats within the warm-up protocol can meaningfully improve repeated sprint performance in national level soccer players uand
Sanchez, J. Effects of different post-activation potentiation warm-ups on repeated sprint ability in soccer players from different competitive levels. Journal of Human Kinetics. In Press.