In previous articles I have talked a lot about post activation potentiation, or the stimulation effect, where you do things to acutely excite the nervous system. If you're unfamiliar with the terms read my articles on The Psycho Factor and complex training.
In these types of exercises you perform 2 exercises back to back, one to excite the neuromuscular system, and one to take advantage of that excitement. For example, you might perform a set of jump squats followed by a set of jumps. The idea (hope) is the jump squats better "potentiate" or "stimulate" your jumps.
Today I want to talk about a different form of stimulation called delayed stimulation. The basic tenet of delayed stimulation is things you do today can influence, or optimize, how you perform tomorrow or the following day. This effect is variable and often confounding. For example, I have known people that jump and run their best the day after a high volume bodybuilding style lower body workout, such as 10 sets of 10 reps.
A moderate volume of lifting (something like 5 sets of 5 reps) does seem to often have a positive effect, as does a lower volume of heavy lifts, for example, 3-4 sets of 1 rep at 90%.
Things that tend to be negative as far as delayed potentiation include running, conditioning, and high volume plyometrics. Anything that creates excessive emotional arousal also tends to be negative. For example, if you get really emotionally charged up and set some PRs in anything you'll likely be performing a little below baseline the next couple of days
Work that activates a particular muscle group or stretches a tight muscle group often seems to produce a positive effect. For example, a higher volume of lower level glute work often seems to potentiate next day performance.
Walking For Potentiation
This is something I want to talk about: A colleague of mine, Rob Skulman, discovered that extended walking with exaggerated strides almost ALWAYS potentiates vertical jump performance in the following days. He discovered this by accident having to walk for 3 hours on a railroad track and having to take extended strides walking on railroad ties. He noticed the next couple of days his vert was several inches higher than normal. Over the yrs he's tested this out on many other athletes, almost always with positive findings. It almost never fails, a 1-3 hour walk, using strides 30% longer than normal results in a 3-4 inch increase in vertical jump between 24-48 hours later. This simple little potentiation setup is now the subject of a university study.
Rob discussed this with me and it does make sense. Walking with slightly exaggerated strides really increases gluteal recruitment on the pushoff, and also stretches the hip flexors. Both of these things can be positive for vert seeking athletes. Done at high volume (an hour walk) you create a slightly stimulated effect in the muscle that persists for a couple of days.
So, next time you're bored give it a shot. Simply walk around for an hour using strides that are about 30% longer than normal. Then go out the next day and the following day and do some jumps. There's a good chance you'll see the positive effects of delayed stim.