“I’m excited,” said Marcus last night as we put the finishing touches on P90X mc2’s final third phase workouts. “We’re going to do a lot of good for people.” Apparently I was pretty amped, too, as I awoke in the middle of the night with a head full of possible scenarios that might challenge the periodiztional flow of mc2. A couple of hours later, with no obvious holes uncovered in our logic, I fell back asleep.
From a scientific standpoint P90X was easy. Our development team needed only to bring what they already knew worked to the table. The big unknown was whether or not the public would buy in to the concept of hard training. Now, with the world watching, the accountability bar has risen. To meet the challenge we’ve enlisted the help of Dr. Marcus Elliott, whom if you’re a Straight Dope follower you’ve been reading a lot about.
Elliott’s training facility, P3, works only with serious athletes. Their approach is based on the latest applied science and, in fact, is so far ahead of the curve that they are defining what the cutting edge in athletic training is. What we’re doing at Beachbody is taking this knowledge and distilling it down to the everyday athlete. By analyzing the data from a broad spectrum of athletes we can find common deficiencies that lead to breakdown and anticipate this in our structure so that it best suits almost everyone. Mc2 is our first foray into this arena—actually; if you subscribe to Tony Horton’s One on One series you’ll see the actual first in our mc2 preview PAP workout.
Last week P3’s blog published an article on Post Activation Potentiation and how they apply it to their athletes. Since it’s about to get applied to you, too, I would call this required reading for anyone interested in understanding why your training works the way it does. Here’s the rub:
At P3, a major route to improving performance is through the application of “complex training,” which involves combining high load strength movements with biomechanically similar plyometric/ballistic movements as a means of taking advantage of Post Activation Potentiation (PAP), a phenomenon that refers to enhancement of muscle function as a result of its contractile history. P3 has found that complex training is far superior in developing athletic power to either resistance training or plyometric training alone, and while there are other mechanisms involved in P3 complexes, the successful manipulation of PAP plays an important role.
Sciency, huh? That’s what you get when you work with a bunch of brainiacs. So you’re going to see these complexes in mc2 but not until the third phase. The reason is that you need to build up to them. At P3 they substantiate this with testing:
To measure the effects of PAP on vertical and horizontal jump performance we had athletes perform Depth Jumps and Skaters off of our custom made force plates. For all of these tests, the vast majority (75%) of athletes performed significantly better post loading. It is important to note the athletes who were tested were all experienced P3 power trained athletes and that studies have shown there is a lot of individual variability in terms of when the potentiation effect occurs.
And we, in turn, get to use their data to project how this will work on a less conditioned general public. Not that anyone who’s done two phases of P90X lacks conditioning. In fact, the base conditioning it provides is elite, which has been proven in how many professional athletes are using it. But when it comes to scientific training there is traditionally fit and, then, there is the next level. And that’s where we—and ultimately you—are heading.
Complex training and the utilization of PAP have and will continue to give athletes many advantages. Unfortunately, general strength exercises paired with aerobic conditioning is still the norm, even at the highest levels of sport. These old school forms of training rarely take into account individual needs and the need for power in movement. Eventually teams and performance coaches will begin to conduct more precise and individualized sports specific programs. Until this transformation takes place, it is paramount that athletes understand their own performance and physical needs, as well as the proven methods that exist.