Muscle can experience post-activation potentiation (PAP), a temporary increase in force and rate of force development, when contractions are closely timed; therefore, cyclical behaviours are likely affected by PAP, as succeeding contraction cycles can lead to potentiation over several subsequent cycles. Here, we examined PAP during in situ cyclical contractions of the mallard lateral gastrocnemius (LG). Surface swimming, a cyclical behaviour, was mimicked with work-loops using in vivo LG length change and stimulation parameters. Tests were performed at mallards' preferred cycle frequency as well as at lower and higher frequencies. Like muscles from mammals, anurans and arthropods, the mallard LG exhibited PAP with increases in peak force, average force rate and net work. Staircase potentiation occurred over two or more work-loop cycles, resulting in gradual increases in PAP. The number of cycles needed to reach maximum work varied with cycle frequency, requiring more cycles at higher cycle frequencies. PAP occurred under in vivo-like stimulation parameters, suggesting a potentially important role of PAP in animal locomotion, especially in cyclical behaviours.