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P90X One on One: P.A.P. Review

If you have been subscribing to the P90X One on Ones than you might have gotten P.A.P in the mail last month. I haven’t done a review on the One on Ones for a while now but I wanted to make sure I did this one because it is totally different than the past P90X workouts and it is something that will be in the upcoming next P90X:MC2.

So, first off…what is P.A.P? P.A.P. stands for Post-Activation Potentiation. Sounds a little “sciency” uh? That’s because it is. It is an idea delevoped by Dr. Marcus Elliott at his Santa Barbara training facility for high profile athletes called “P3“. In the most laymen terms, Post-Activation Potentiation is a training routine that involves complexes of heavy strength movements followed by explosive exercises that is said to fire your muscles so that they are more activated to help you perform better. Here is a better idea of what it is and what it involves from Steve Edwards and Dr. Elliott:


“that prior heavy loading induces a high degree of central nervous system stimulation, resulting in greater motor unit recruitment and force, which can last from five-to-thirty minutes”

and secondly:

“PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle”

In laymen terms, this means that doing heavy lifting prior to explosive activity can actually help you fire higher threshold muscle cell motor units which, even even simpler terms, means that you will jump higher, run faster, or life more weight.

Underlying Mechanisms of PAP

1. Heavy loading prior to an explosive movement induces a high degree of central nervous system stimulation, resulting in greater motor unit recruitment and force, which can last from five to thirty minutes (Chiu, Fry, Weiss, et al 2003) .

2. Along with more central nervous system stimulation, PAP has been attributed to Phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains, meaning that following a heavy strength movement actin and myosin which function together to generate force and muscle contractions are more sensitive to calcium and more active. The greater the phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein, the faster the rate of contraction and tension (Chiu, Fry, Weiss, et al 2003).

3. Another scientific finding that explains this effect is the enhancement of the H-reflex, increasing the rate of neurotransmission to the muscles (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

As you can see, they are definitely on to something special at P3. These guys know their stuff and if you follow their blog you will see that a lot of their athletes are having very good years in their given sport.

So how is the workout? First, it is very different than what you are used to. It involves a very long and dynamic warmup. Tony takes you through a series of warm up moves that makes sure your ready to take on some of these moves.

Having done one of the actually P.A.P. workouts while getting ready for the Next P90X (P90X:MC2), I can tell you that this workout is a great “appetizer” of sorts. This workout gives you a great idea of what to expect but doesn’t fully let you taste the true power of P.A.P….yet. There are 2 complexes that Tony goes through. Each complex consists of 4 moves, each designed to help you perform the next and make sure your getting the most of P.A.P. The first complex is upper body and if you do it correctly is a very tough complex. There are some strength moves, power moves and stretching. The second complex is even tougher…at least for me. It is all legs and involves of of the hardest Core/Leg/Plank moves I have ever done. When you can start to hold this thing for 30 secs straight through each set of the complex then you are doing very well. During the rehearsal during MC2 I saw that women tend to do much better with this move then men. So don’t challege your wife/girl friend with this move because she might destroy you.

Overall this workout is a great addition to your dvd arsenal. It is something totally different and will allow you to have an upcoming sneak peak at what is in store with the Next P90X. Tony Horton takes you through each exercise and shows you how difficult it can be, even for him. It’s something that I have added to my routine and I think you will love it. I have been waiting to talk about it for months now so I am glad it is finally out and ready for everyone to try!

CLICK HERE to Order P90X One on One: P.A.P.