Complex training is the method of coupling heavy and light loads into an organized sequence with the aim of facilitating postactivation potentiation. Anecdotal evidence has supported the use of complex training sequences, but scientific studies investigating the effects of sequencing isometric loads with dynamic muscle actions have been limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a preconditioning sequence of maximal isometric knee extensions on performance standards in selected dynamic whole-body exercise. Fourteen track and field athletes (23 +/- 5.7 years; 71.53 +/- 6.93 kg; 172.6 +/- 5.8 cm) were randomly assessed in selected whole-body exercises (drop and countermovement jumps, 5-second cycle sprint, knee extension) following a sequence of maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVC; 3 repetitions of 3 seconds or 3 repetitions of 5 seconds) or in the absence of prior loading (control). Electromyographic (EMG) assessments of muscle activity were also made during the knee extension assessment. Significant (p < or = 0.05) increases in jump height (5.03%), maximal force (4.94%), and acceleration impulse (9.49%) were observed in the drop jump following 3 repetitions of 3-second MVC only. Knee extension maximal torque was also significantly increased (6.12%) following the 3-second MVC. No significant changes in countermovement jump or cycle sprint measures were observed for any of the experimental conditions. Though adaptations were found, changes in EMG activity were not significantly different for any of the experimental conditions. These data indicate that performing a sequence of repeated maximal isometric knee extensions (3 repetitions of 3 seconds) prior to selected dynamic exercise (< or =0.25 seconds) may have favorable effects on performance beyond standards achieved without prior heavy loading.
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