daily wisdom, vibration

Daily Wisdom: Postactivation Potentiation

Those vibrating platforms you see in the gym could actually give you an edge.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

Today’s Topic: Why “postactivation potentiation” is the fitness buzz phrase du jour

The Science: study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research looked at how completing exercises (like push-up holds) on a vibration platform prior to doing a seated medicine ball throw impacted upper body muscular power. The results came down to timing. “The participants needed to allow for enough rest between the vibration platform exercises and the throws so that fatigue did not negatively impact performance,” says Berenc. 

EQX Expert Insight: This study touches on a topic that’s been getting a lot of attention lately in the fitness world: postactivation potentiation (PAP). “PAP is the process of using an activity to prime the muscles for greater performance,” explains Berenc. Some PAP methods include heavy squats prior to jumps and sled pushes prior to sprinting (the potentiating exercise should be similar to the one you are looking to impact). “With whole-body vibration, the muscles are reacting through miniature contractions. So, it can work as well as these other PAP methods to improve strength and power performance afterwards,” says Berenc. *Other reported benefits of whole-body vibration are increases in bone mineral density and improved circulation.

The Bottom Line: Vibration platforms can provide a great way to warm up for your strength or power days in the gym. “If you plan on going heavy, mimic the movement you will be training on the vibration platform and then get to work after three to 10 minutes of rest (just make sure you alleviate any sense of fatigue, as the study underlines),” says Berenc. For example, if you are prepping for weighted squats, perform three to four sets of 60 seconds of bodyweight squats (static or dynamic) on the vibration platform. Rest, then move on to your main sets. Note that most vibration platforms set their intensity via hertz. Berenc advices staying between 30-45 hz and keep the volume moderate. “This is just meant to prep, not be the workout itself,” he says.