Swimmers that do lunge exercises on a flywheel squat device such as the kBox prior to a race get a 35% faster start. This is evident from a new study from the University of Granada, which validates the post-activation potentiation (PAP) protocol.
Numerous studies have shown that using a flywheel device results in higher muscular activation and muscular forces during training. As a result, increases in strength and hypertrophy are higher during a flywheel training regimen as compared to using traditional weights.
Can this higher activation be useful for swimming applications in a race context too? The answer is Yes! Post-Activation Potentation (PAP) is a technique to elicit higher muscular force in explosive actions. This has been explained well in an excellent article by sports scientist Bret Contreras:
“The underlying principle surrounding PAP is that heavy loading prior to explosive activity induces a high degree of central nervous system stimulation which results in greater motor unit recruitment lasting anywhere from five to thirty minutes.”
PAP has showed mixed results in studies and the conclusion has been that the protocol (type of exercise, intensity and rest) before performance must be validated. It is therefore interesting to read a new publication from researchers at the University of Granada, who studied two different protocols for PAP before swim start. They compared them first to each other and then to warm-up only. PAP consisted of either three reps of barbell lunges (85% of 1 RM) or four lunges on a first-generation multi-exercise flywheel device.
Results showed that mean horizontal velocity in the swim start increased by 35% with the flywheel lunges as compared to warm-up only and by 18% as compared to PAP with barbell lunges. This flying start gave the swimmers faster times to 5 and 15 meters after the flywheel PAP and this protocol can give the swimmers a significant advantage in shorter events.
/Fredrik Correa, M.D.
For further reading, see: Applications: Swimming