While there are numerous ways of incorporating PAP into your weight training, Peña explains one method that’s especially effective for stimulating muscle growth: the max-out method. He notes: “After warm-ups, your first set should be a single rep performed with approximately 90% of your one-rep max [1RM]. Next, rest for as long as five minutes to ensure that you’re fully recovered.
“Then you should do the second set of the same exercise — using a weight that’s approximately 80% of your 1RM — something with which you can usually get about eight reps. You push this set to failure; you should be able to eke out 1–2 reps more than if you hadn’t preceded this set with the post-activation potentiaton heavy set. After another lengthy rest, you can then repeat this sequence.”
The max-out method is going to be most effective with those lifts on which you can pack on the most plates, so favor multijoint, bilateral exercises like leg presses and overhead presses rather than doing, say, one-arm triceps pressdowns (one joint, unilateral). Instead, for your triceps max-out lift, choose close-grip bench presses (two joints, bilateral). Furthermore, to make certain you can move the greatest amount of iron when using this approach, do your max-out sets first for a bodypart before fatigue levels have set in. After completing max-out sets, follow them with regular sets of 8–12 reps on isolation and compound exercises.
Warm Up — It’s Crucial
Safety should always be your paramount concern, so warm up thoroughly before your one-rep max-out set. By using 90% of your maximum, the weight you push should be something with which you can get a relatively easy single, but use a spotter whenever necessary. Maintain strict form, and do just one rep even if you feel you can get another (because it’s the set after this one that really counts!). This isn’t the time to extend beyond that one rep with additional forced reps or to incorporate other intensity techniques. This is your “one-and-done” set. The second set is to failure.
Your Machine Options
Machines will allow you to more safely do your 90% set on many exercises and more safely go to failure on your 80% set — even if you have spotters. For this reason, returning to the triceps, as an example, it’s generally best to do your close-grip bench presses with a Smith machine instead of a barbell. Conversely, avoid lifts like barbell incline presses and barbell front squats where one-rep sets and failure sets become risky propositions. (See “Multijoint Maximizers” at right for examples of (mostly) mechanical compound exercises ideal for the max-out method.) Biceps are difficult to hit with a multijoint exercise, so choose a single-joint, bilateral lift in which you can pack on substantial iron, such as barbell curls or EZ-bar preacher curls.