A Comment on “A New Taxonomy for Postactivation Potentiation in Sport”

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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  • 1 University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

In their recent commentary, Boullosa et al1 present a discussion about the terminology “postactivation potentiation” (PAP) and “postactivation performance enhancement” (PAPE), but they do not, apparently, understand these terms. In fact, their misinterpretation of PAP is the very reason the term PAPE was proposed.2

To begin with, the authors define PAP as “a muscular phenomenon which consists of an acute increment in strength and power performance as a result of the recent voluntary contractile history.” Compare this with a more historically accurate definition: an enhanced muscle contractile response for a given activation following a voluntary contraction.3 Note that no mechanism is stipulated in this definition. This is an important point because Boullosa et al1 justify their commentary based on assumed mechanisms.

We would like to resolve this misconception by clearly explaining the distinction between PAP (defined above) and PAPE. PAP and PAPE are similar in that they require voluntary activation of muscles to induce an enhancement; hence, “postactivation” is common to the 2 terms. In the case of PAP, the enhancement is due to changes within the muscles. The improved contractile response is revealed by evaluation with the same stimulation as prior to the conditioning contraction. Without assessment with a controlled method of activation, an improved contractile response cannot necessarily be attributed to PAP. Twitch potentiation dissipates over the ∼6-minute period immediately after a conditioning contraction.4 For this reason, any enhancement of performance or contractile response outside of this time cannot be attributed to PAP. However, it is important to realize that PAP is not limited to isometric twitch contractions and that PAP of other contraction types could, theoretically, contribute to PAPE if the effects coincide temporally.

Clearly, performance can be enhanced by prior intense voluntary effort. We call this effort warm-up. PAP could contribute to this enhanced performance. However, when performance of a voluntary activity is enhanced by prior intense voluntary activation, it should be called PAPE. This term does not imply or stipulate the mechanism.

Several papers published in the last 20 years have mistakenly used the term PAP to describe an enhanced performance (lift, jump, sprint, and power) attributed to a prior voluntary activation but without confirmation that the contractile response to a given stimulation is changed. We introduced the term PAPE to be used in this circumstance. A new taxonomy is unnecessary.

References

  • 1.

    Boullosa D, Beato M, Dello Iacono A, et al. A new taxonomy for post-activation potentiation in sport. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020;15(8):11971200. PubMed ID: 32820135 doi:10.1123/ijspp.2020-0350

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  • 2.

    Cuenca-Fernández F, Smith IC, Jordan MJ, et al. Nonlocalized postactivation performance enhancement (PAPE) effects in trained athletes: a pilot study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017;42(10):11221125. PubMed ID: 28675792 doi:10.1139/apnm-2017-0217

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  • 3.

    Zimmermann HB, Knihs D, Diefenthaler F, MacIntosh BR, Dal Pupo J. Continuous countermovement jumps enhance twitch peak torque of quadriceps muscles and sprint performance in highly trained sprint athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. In press.

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  • 4.

    MacIntosh BR, Robillard ME, Tomaras EK. Should postactivation potentiation be the goal of your warm-up? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012;37(3):546550. PubMed ID: 22515147 doi:10.1139/h2012-016

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    • Export Citation

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  • 1.

    Boullosa D, Beato M, Dello Iacono A, et al. A new taxonomy for post-activation potentiation in sport. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020;15(8):11971200. PubMed ID: 32820135 doi:10.1123/ijspp.2020-0350

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Cuenca-Fernández F, Smith IC, Jordan MJ, et al. Nonlocalized postactivation performance enhancement (PAPE) effects in trained athletes: a pilot study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2017;42(10):11221125. PubMed ID: 28675792 doi:10.1139/apnm-2017-0217

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Zimmermann HB, Knihs D, Diefenthaler F, MacIntosh BR, Dal Pupo J. Continuous countermovement jumps enhance twitch peak torque of quadriceps muscles and sprint performance in highly trained sprint athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. In press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    MacIntosh BR, Robillard ME, Tomaras EK. Should postactivation potentiation be the goal of your warm-up? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012;37(3):546550. PubMed ID: 22515147 doi:10.1139/h2012-016

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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