Muscular and neural contributions to postactivation potentiation

Brian J. Wallace, Robert Shapiro, Kelly L. Wallace, Mark G. Abel, Thorburn B. Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study’s purpose was to explain the relationship between muscle factors (twitch potentiation [TP]) and neural factors (reflex potentiation) contributing to total postactivation potentiation (PAP) that couples these. The tibial nerve of 15 participants were stimulated intermittently for 20 minutes at supramaximal (Mmax) and submaximal (Hmax) intensities on separate days under 2 conditions: (a) rest (Control) and (b) after a 10-second plantarflexion maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). Isometric twitch torque and rate of force development (RFD) as well as soleus and gastrocnemius electromyographic values were analyzed. Torque and RFD TP were significantly greater 10 and 30 seconds after MVIC vs. Control. Postactivation potentiation of torque and RFD at Hmax were highest at 3 and 4.5 minutes after MVIC, respectively, with RFD significantly elevated. Electromyographic values were not different between conditions. Twitch potentiation significantly contributed to PAP at the following time points: 20 seconds, Hmax peak, and 20 minutes after MVIC (torque: R2 = 0.54, 0.76, and 0.70; RFD: R2 = 0.46, 0.59, and 0.53). The soleus significantly contributed to PAP torque at 20 seconds and 20 minutes after MVIC, and to PAP RFD at 20 seconds, 4.5 minutes, and 20 minutes (torque: R2 = 0.26 and 0.34, p ≤ 0.05; RFD: R2 = 0.65, 0.52, and 0.41). The gastrocnemius did not significantly contribute to PAP. Both muscle and neural factors play a significant role in PAP, and neural factors may play a more prominent role in RFD potentiation than torque potentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-625
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 National Strength and Conditioning Association.


  • H-reflex
  • Reflex potentiation
  • Twitch potentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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