BIG tip to become more explosive

If you like it, please give him a shout out in the comments as I have given him a few topics to write on for everyone!!!!!


As an aspiring Strength & Conditioning Coach I have been asked a lot of questions from clients, friends and family regarding training. When I get asked a question that I may not have the answer to, I research the topic and read related books to expand my knowledge. As a result, I have learned the most from reading outside of college course requirements. Now I do not claim to be an expert, nor will I ever feel that way, because knowledge is something you build upon as you progress through life. As a recent graduate, the journey has just begun and taking the opportunity to learn from great coaches in the field is the best thing you can do to become better at what you do.


One question that I get asked constantly is how to incorporate speed and explosiveness into a program to aid in performance. This is a question that I have seen across the board over various forums and coaching sites. Since this is such a common question, I would like to take this opportunity to share a technique that has been implemented into training regimens with great success as a medium for providing strength, explosiveness and speed.

Breaking down PAP

I believe this is such a popular topic for two reasons: 1) People associate speed with running and the fatigue that comes along with it, therefore avoiding it all together; 2) and we tend to focus on one element of training (strength, power, hypertrophy, speed, etc.), which is not very effective for an athlete or for time management purposes.

Fortunately, there is a method used to aid in explosive strength and speed-strength that about anyone can incorporate into their regimen. The answer is through a phenomenon known as Postactivation potentiation or PAP. PAP is defined as, “an acute aftereffect of enhanced muscle force output of explosive movements after a heavy resistance exercise” (Robbins 2005). The PAP response can be seen in the theory of “complex training,” which incorporates a maximal contraction exercise such as a squat, followed by a plyometric exercise such as a depth jump. This type of training sequence elevates central nervous system (CNS) excitability, which in turn results in greater motor unit recruitment and force output.

Fiber Type and Performance

While the heavy resistance exercise excites the CNS, the explosive movement recruits fast-twitch muscle fibers. More specifically, Type IIb muscle fibers that are responsible for producing quick, explosive bursts of speed. Exercises that develop the Type IIb fibers are:

-Speed-strength exercises such as: Explosive Bulgarian Split Squat Jumps, Loaded Squat Jumps, Med Ball Twisting reverse lunge to high knee, etc.

-Plyometric exercises such as: Bounding, High Knees, Box Jacks, etc.

Common Pairings

Now many athletes incorporate some type of plyometric exercise into their training regimen, but never think to implement a traditional strength exercise with an explosive plyometric exercise. Pairing training elements together, allow athletes to increase their work capacity and allow for more activity during a single lifting session. By combining similar activities, athletes may become more proficient as well if the lift is more sport-specific. Here are some exercises that demonstrate the PAP response:


Lower Body:

-Squat to Squat Jumps

-Squat to Box Jump or Hurdle Hop

-Skater Squat to Bounding

-Hip Thrust to Broad Jump

Upper Body:

-Bench press/Push-up to Plyometric Push-up

-Bench press/Push-up to Med ball chest pass or quick wall pass

-Bench press/Push-up to Tire battling

Things to Consider

- A proper dynamic warm-up w/plyo work could also enhance muscle contractility

- PAP protocol should not be used in a fatigued state or till failure (listen to your body)

- To reiterate the previous statement: Following a high-volume maximal contraction, you would want to wait several minutes before performing the explosive activity. Following a low-volume maximal contraction you would want to perform the explosive activity immediately following the set (Tillins 2009).

- Look at overall volume and intensity of training regimen before adding anything new

- Most research that I have come across demonstrates the benefit of PAP before a single action, such as a max vertical test. This could also carry over to other single action events.

- Try to be specific to your sport!

Practical Use

Example workout incorporating PAP:


1a) Squat 5 x 2

Rest 30 – 60 seconds

1b) Vertical Jump 5 x 2



1a) Bench Press 5 x 3

Rest 30 – 60 seconds

1b) Explosive Push-up 5 x 3

Joe’s Notes

We have been testing this concept with athletes at Synergy Athletics and it 100% works.  I wrote about it first back with my free bonus on increasing bench press reps (maybe I’ll bring that back for the newsletter subscribers soon. HINT:  Subscribe!)


**The video shows the PAP with 15 seconds rest between sets.**

Jeremy and I will have a video of this phenomenon in practice up in a few weeks, along with testing numbers on a number of our athletes.


The first athlete we used it on, we paired squat with vertical jump.  Mike tested his vertical jump at 24.6 inches and 24.2 inches in a two jump test.  After the first set he logged 26.8 and 26.8.  The 3rd set yielded 28.7 and 27.9.   This is just a sampling on one athlete, but like I said, this article is long enough and we will get more up shortly if you are interested!

- Joe Hashey, CSCS

PS.  Round two of the conditioning challenge should be up tomorrow night!

PPS.  Check out Bull Strength by clicking the image below!



Baechle, T, and R Earle. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (NSCA). 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.

Robbins, D.W. (2005). Postactivation potentiation and its practical applicability: a brief review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(2), 453-458.

Tillin, N and D Bishop. (2009). Factors modulating post-activation potentiation and its effect on performance on subsequent explosive activities. Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(2), 147-66.

Verkhoshansky, Y. (1986). Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport . Livonia, MI: Sportivny Press. (Original work published in 1977, Moscow, Russia: Fizkultura i Spovt) Translate by Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Zatsiorsky, V.M. Science and Practice of Strength Training. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006.

…And a quick shout out to my boy JR. Joyner at Triumph Athletics also for writing an article including PAP recently.

Synergy Facebook Comments


  • jhashey

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    [New Post] BIG tip to become more explosive – via #twitoaster

  • fishycoochies95

    Reply Reply June 21, 2010

    i back this up 100%. i’ve been doing my plyo jumps right after max effort work for past 3 years. never knew the technical term, got the tip from a strength coach a couple years ago.

  • isaacseckora

    Reply Reply June 21, 2010

    great article!!! not bad for an aspiring strength and conditioning coach!!! Joe you are doing great things for strength and conditioning by not just training but also teaching!!!

  • Jeremie

    Reply Reply June 21, 2010

    Great information and very well put, will work the concept into my training for sure!

  • james

    Reply Reply June 21, 2010

    Great article Joe and I will definately use this with are atheletes this summer.

    • Thanks James – let me know how it goes.

      I’m considering doing an 8 week study on 10 athletes – I know its not a huge segment, but
      to get some more conclusive data to answer the following questions:

      What is the ideal rest period?

      Does this carry over to NON PAP explosive movements over time (does this only help when maximally loaded first to stimulate more motor units)?

      How does training age effect the results?

      If anyone else is interested in us doing that study, just reply here. I want to make sure people actually want to read it before we put in a lot of hours to make it happen!


  • Grumpy

    Reply Reply June 21, 2010

    Jerermy great article direct and to the point, very useful inforamtion

  • Richard Taper

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Thumbs up to the intern!!!!

  • Clement

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Hi Joe and Jeremy,

    This is an excellent article and I know that diesel crew use it much of the time too. They had a video of an athlete pairing heavy back squats with depth jumps and then heavy step-ups with explosive bugarian split-squats.

    I have a question: for people like me who work with their bodyweight most of the time, would it be as effective to pair 5×5-8 reps (higher volume but lower weight) of the heavy strength work with 5×4 reps of the explosive exercise? For example,

    1a) pistols, 5×5
    1b) vertical jumps, 5×4-6

    Or would it be significantly less effective than heavy work in the 2-5 rep range?

    Also, I’m given to understand that the plyometric/speed strength exercise should not take more than 6 reps so that maximum intensity is achieved during the set. Is this true?

  • Chris

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Awesome post guys! Explosiveness is an area I’ve always been weak in (my dog’s got a better vertical leap than I do… no joke). So I’m going to start using this!

    • Clement – yes you are going to want to keep it in the low rep range. I’m not sure how pistols and jumps would pair – in theory it should work if your pistol max is around 5.

      The only inconsistency that might arise is that a one leg will be getting more rest than the other during the pistol which may effect the jumping.

      Feel free to try it out and see how it goes!


  • yasaf

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    looks most interesting and fascinating – how do you feel it combines with a 5×5 set across program ? too intense ?

  • dickie

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    fantastic article from start to finish. definitely one of the most thorough and detailed post on any kind of sports performance in a while. keep up the great work!

  • JR

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Thanks for the love Joe!

    I knew this was real years ago when guys started using this as a warm up method at NFL combine for the 225 bench rep test. Some of the guys were working up to 405 for singles and doubles and then backing off to the test weight of 225. Many had over 5 rep PRs simply by taking advantage of PAP.

  • Jerry Shreck

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    This is a common tread of a lot of my training programs for my athletes and yes it has shown great results when done properly. Great job Jeremy! Joe looks like you got an good intern there.

  • Jorge Sanchez

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Jeremy, i really enjoyed your article. Excellent research, great sources. What I loved the most is the way you display information. Very easy to understand, yet, with a serious, scientific tone.
    Good job man, keep it up.
    PS: I’ll be trying your samples in my basketball off season work in august. hope to send you a picture of a nasty slam dunk.

    • That’s exactly where I started learning about it at the NFL combine testing years ago JR!

      No problem about the love, you deserve it with your hardwork.


  • Fionn MacPartlin

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Good article Jeremy. I did my undergraduate thesis on this and found that EMS caused a PAP aswell. Another effective pairing that I see Defranco using is loading up a trap bar with just enough weight so that you can only jump a few inches and then performing a vertical jump. Also a squat off pins, which mimics the ROM of a vertical jump better than a standard back squat.

  • Jeremy Reynolds

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010


    There is a lot of research out there on PAP and I did come across some that had mentioned Electrical Muscle Stimulation as well. Good info out there for sure!

    We touched on the topic in school, but I seen a lot of its practical usage out there on DeFranco’s videos. Thanks again for the read!


  • Jeremy Reynolds

    Reply Reply June 22, 2010

    Good luck with implementing this into your program, I hope it yields great results for your sport!

  • Jeremy Reynolds

    Reply Reply June 23, 2010

    Thanks to all for the support and comments thus far!

  • vicente

    Reply Reply July 28, 2010

    Nice article; for sure something that can make up a big difference!!

    Many thanks for sharing


  • wrestler strength

    Reply Reply September 29, 2010

    Joe the results from this are incredible. I’ve started using a very similar setup with my dynamic days and it’s paying huge dividends on the mat already just 5 weeks in! Quick question- what weights are you looking to use for the bench press and/or squat in the examples above?

    • Admin: Joe Hashey, CSCS

      Reply Reply September 29, 2010

      Hey Dickie, we work up to a 3rm (not a true 3rm, but real close) usually in the neighborhood of 80-85% lately.


  • jump

    Reply Reply October 21, 2010

    Good exercise routines.I also tried plyometric with y training and I really saw a great improvement with my leg muscle.

  • John

    Reply Reply December 23, 2011

    Great post Joe. I do a lot of contrast training with my wrestling guys and I found it works very well for developing power. Thanks for the post and I hope all is well! Also wanted to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone at Synergy Athletics. Keep kicking ass.

    -Coach Gaglione

  • Cameron Walker

    Reply Reply December 23, 2011

    Yeah, these "home workout gurus" have not screwed anything up. They've worked with Dr. Marcus Elliot and the best at the P3 facility in Santa Barbara. Are you a Dr. Just because you can't handle hard training, doesn't mean you have the right to bash a technique or a home workout program.

  • Zain Yousaf

    Reply Reply December 23, 2011

    A very interesting article. I will be looking to blend this into my routines with my athletes! Thanks again Joe!

  • Justin Andrushko

    Reply Reply April 9, 2012

    This is a great article! I will be sharing it via Facebook and tweets

  • Definetly implement this into my training.

  • Definetly implement this into my training.

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