Behind the Block is a segment where we teach you about the science, design, and methods behind the Allegiate workouts. Why do we do what we do? And what makes it work?

The theme of this intensification block is:

Wave Loading

The goal of this block is to get as much neural input as possible. How? By manipulating the patterns of loading – Wave Loading.

A high-level summary of Wave Loading

What do waves do at the beach? They gradually build up in size as they get closer to the sand. In a set of waves, each wave is larger than the one before it.

This is the same concept in this month’s program design.

Over 3 sets, we build up to a heavier weight. Then we back-off the weight and rebuild up to a larger weight over another 3 sets.

For example:

Set 2

  • 5 reps at 70 KG

  • 4 reps at 80 KG

  • 3 reps at 90 KG

Set 1

  • 5 reps at 60 KG

  • 4 reps at 70 KG

  • 3 reps at 80 KG

Think back to that visual of the waves. The first wave comes in, builds up, and finishes. After the first wave finishes, it’s followed by the second, larger wave right behind it.

Tempo-wise, we’re using a 4/0/X/0 tempo. We do this to better leverage the elastic properties of the muscle, eliciting a greater nervous system response. Remember, 4/0/X/0 means 4 second eccentric. The rest of the movement has a normal tempo.

How Wave Loading works and Post-Activation Potentiation

We use wave loading to leverage the concept of Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP).

Said simply, PAP is becoming more efficient with heavier weights. Said more complexly, PAP increases motor units and the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers. PAP is used to meet the demands of the exercise and the intensity being used (1).

A few facts about Post-Activation Potentiation

1) Stronger people typically yield better results with PAP (2).

Why? They are more efficient at recruiting higher threshold motor units. And subsequently, greater amounts of fast twitch muscle fibers.

2) There is a window of “potentiation” or a delay period in which we can maximize this window of opportunity of an increased neural drive (2).

3) Faster twitch people typically have a larger window than slower twitch. This is because they can more easily access higher threshold motor units.

Something else to consider is Size Principle

Size Principle is a concept that uses higher threshold motor units in the beginning of a workout or program. Starting this way leads to better performance and more efficiency.

Bypassing lower threshold motor units and going straight to higher threshold yields less overall energy expenditure per activity. This is done by meeting the demands of the exercise and using the appropriate fibers based on the activity (1).

In other words, we don’t waste energy. We get right to the main components that make it happen.

We wrote a blog post on Size Principle here if you want more information.

In conclusion

The goal of this block is to get as much neural input as possible. How?By manipulating the patterns of loading – Wave Loading.

Remember the visual of a set of waves. The first wave drives neural output up, like a jet coming off the runway. When the second wave comes, we have all jets firing for max output.

  1. Digby S. Postactivation Potentiation: Role in Human Performance. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews. 2002; 30(3): 138-143.

  2. Hodgson M, Docherty D, Robbins D. Post-Activation Potentiation: Underlying Physiology and Implications for Motor Performance. Sports Medicine. 2012; 35(7): 585-595.

  3. Issurin V. Block periodization versus traditional training theory: A review. 2008; 48(1):65-75


Tim CaronAllegiate