CAN POST ACTIVATION POTENTIATION (PAP) HAVE AN EFFECT ON SPORTS SPECIFIC SPRINT AND AGILITY PERFORMANCE, AT SELECTED INTERVALS OVER A 12 MINUTE TIME PERIOD, IN MALE RUGBY UNION PLAYERS.
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Post activation potentiation (PAP) is the neurological response of muscle spindles to a voluntary muscle contraction following an activity performed at a specific load or intensity (Tillin and Bishop, 2009). Studies have shown that PAP can be used to increase the performance of explosive activities, however a set protocol has yet to be reached, with varying protocols leading to indefinite results. The purpose of this study shall be to investigate whether performing a back squat at a near maximal load of 90% for 3 repetitions can enhance male rugby union players’ maximal speed, acceleration and agility through sports specific testing. 10 male rugby union players aged 19 ± 3.8 years differing in playing position, performed their 3 repetitions of back squat at 90% and then completed a 40 metre maximal linear sprint and a reactive agility test. Times were recorded at 10 and 30 metres during the linear speed test, with 10 metres identifying athlete acceleration and 30 metres showing maximal speed. In both the maximal speed and acceleration tests athletes displayed signs of fatigue at intervals of 30 seconds and 12 minutes, indicating that 30 seconds is not a sufficient recovery period for athletes to perform an explosive activity at optimal level and that this optimal level cannot be reproduced after 12 minutes unless a greater rest period than 4 minutes is given. The quickest times were recorded at 4 and 8 minutes post back squat, suggesting that potentiating effects were realised by the athletes at these time intervals. Results of the 10 metre reactive agility test showed little deviation between the varying times of performance when disregarding the anomaly at 4 minutes. This indicated that that the performance of reactive agility does not display any of the previous PAP traits shown through the tests on acceleration and maximal speed, in particular the effects of fatigue. The findings of the study show that although it is possible to gain performance enhancement through PAP, with the current depth of knowledge it is difficult to see how a time-specific PAP protocol can be established for a sport such as rugby union.
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