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Optimising the prescription of training for post-activation potentiation in rugby league players

Scott, David John Cranston


David John Cranston Scott


Philip (Sport scientist) Marshall

Massimiliano Ditroilo


Maximum lower-body muscular strength and power are key determinants of successful performance in rugby league (Baker & Newton, 2009; Johnston, Gabbett, & Jenkins, 2014). Due to large amounts of concurrent energy system training and the congested fixture schedule throughout the competitive season there is limited time available for strength training (McLellan, Lovell, & Gass, 2011; Moreira, Kempton, Aoki, Sirotic, & Coutts, 2015). Strength and conditioning coaches are therefore challenged to prescribe appropriate training modalities which aim to maintain highly developed levels of strength and power.

Complex training is a mixed resistance training modality which aims to address strength and power during a single training session by alternating heavy resistance exercise, set for set, with explosive plyometric exercise (Docherty, Robbins, & Hodgson, 2004). This training modality is underpinned by post-activation potentiation (PAP) which refers to the acute augmentation of force and power production following a heavy load conditioning activity (Hodgson, Docherty, & Robbins, 2005; Tillin & Bishop, 2009). Since PAP and fatigue are simultaneously induced, an appropriate recovery interval is required to enhance explosive performance when the muscle has partially recovered from fatigue but is still potentiated (Docherty et al., 2004) which may limit its practical application.

This thesis aimed to investigate methods of eliciting PAP at shorter recovery intervals to enhance its practical applicability for strength and conditioning coaches. The main aims of this thesis were:
1. To determine any differences in the PAP response between the hex-bar deadlift (HBD) and back squat (BS) exercises and identify the optimal recovery interval required for PAP to manifest.
2. To examine if moderately loaded HBD and BS exercises combined with accommodating resistance elicit PAP at shorter recovery intervals.
3. To examine the difference in the magnitude of the PAP response between stronger, more experienced and weaker, less experienced athletes.
4. To examine muscle activation as a result of the PAP response using surface electromyography.
5. To investigate the chronic adaptations to muscle architecture and athletic performance following two complex training interventions over a 6-week mesocycle.


Scott, D. J. C. (2018). Optimising the prescription of training for post-activation potentiation in rugby league players. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 31, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Sports science
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, The University of Hull
Award Date Nov 1, 2018


Thesis (5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Scott, David John Cranston. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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