What are the best isometric exercises of muscle potentiation?

  • Albertas Skurvydas
  • Giedre Jurgelaitiene
  • Sigitas KamandulisEmail author
  • Dalia Mickeviciene
  • Marius Brazaitis
  • Dovile Valanciene
  • Diana Karanauskiene
  • Mantas Mickevicius
  • Gediminas Mamkus
Original Article



The aim of this study was to follow post-activation potentiation (PAP), low-frequency fatigue (LFF), metabolic-induced fatigue and post-contractile depression (PCD) in response to different isometric muscle contraction modalities.


Young healthy men (N = 120) were randomly assigned to one of ten exercise modality groups which differed in contraction duration (5–60 s), activation pattern (intermittent or continuous contractions), activation mode (voluntary or stimulated), and intensity [maximal or submaximal (50%)]. Isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), and electrically induced knee extension torque were measured at baseline and at regular intervals for 60 min after exercise.


Muscle contraction modalities involving 5 s MVC were the most effective for PAP, whereas the lowest PAP effectiveness was found after the 12 × 5-MVC modality. After all of the 5–15 s MVC and 6 × 5-MVC protocols, the potentiation of the twitch rate was significantly higher than that recorded after continuous 30–60 s protocols (P < 0.001). Tetanic maximal torque (100 Hz) potentiation occurred 5 min after 15–30 s repetitive MVC modalities and after modality involving 15 electrical stimuli (P < 0.05).


The findings demonstrate that post-activation potentiation was most effective after brief duration continuous and repetitive MVC protocols. To understand the resultant warm-up of motor performance, it is necessary to recognize the coexistence of muscle PAP, tetanic maximal force potentiation, rapid recovery of metabolic muscle, and central muscle activation processes, as well as prolonged LFF and prolonged PCD.


Post-activation potentiation Tetanic maximal force potentiation Low-frequency fatigue Metabolic-related fatigue Post-contractile depression Electrostimulation 



Analysis of variance


Contraction time


Electrical stimulation


Low-frequency fatigue


Muscle conditioning protocol


Maximal voluntary contraction


100 Hz electrically induced peak torque


20 Hz electrically induced peak torque


Post-activation potentiation


Post-contractile depression


Electrically induced twitch peak torque


Twitch contraction rate


Twitch half-relaxation rate


Half-relaxation time


Author contributions

AS and DM: conception and design of the study, AS, GJ, SK, DM, MB, DV, DK, MM and GM: data collection and analyses, AS: wrote the manuscript. All authors edited and approved the manuscript final version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albertas Skurvydas
    • 1
  • Giedre Jurgelaitiene
    • 1
  • Sigitas Kamandulis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dalia Mickeviciene
    • 1
  • Marius Brazaitis
    • 1
  • Dovile Valanciene
    • 1
  • Diana Karanauskiene
    • 1
  • Mantas Mickevicius
    • 1
  • Gediminas Mamkus
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Sports Science and InnovationLithuanian Sports UniversityKaunasLithuania

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