Energy Systems, What are they? and How do they effect you?

I first started learning about energy systems about 8 years ago when I was competitively fighting and training competitive fighters, knowing what and how to train these systems became key in building the fitness needed to compete in Combat Sports. I’ve used different styles of energy system training over the years to develop certain weaknesses in myself and the athletes I’ve trained. I believe having a certain amount of knowledge in how your body works and why we make you do what you do is key in a long term sustainable approach to fitness.

The Basics

We have 3 different energy systems in our body that give us the ability to move, jump, run, lift, climb and everything else we do a on a daily basis. Each of these energy systems play a different role in our fitness and how our body receives energy to move. These systems don’t work independently but rather depend on each other in some capacity.  One may be working harder than the other depending on what your doing but the others are still helping to some extent. These 3 systems are ATP/PC (Creatine Phosphate) System, The Glycolytic Anaerobic System and the Oxidative Aerobic System.

Depending on your goals or your focus you may spend nearly 100% of your time in 1 or 2 of these systems and never ever use the third. I’m saying your missing out on something that may be helping you in the back round without you even knowing it. By not training one of these systems you’ve left a chink in your armor and are more susceptible to injury, burn out and fatigue.  The more efficient you become in all 3 the more well rounded you’ll be as an athlete and yes I believe we are all athletes in some sense even if we no longer compete in anything. To live to your highest potential it would be a shame to miss out on something that could make you so much better, healthier and productive.

Here are two prime examples I deal with.
1. The Long distance runner/triathlete- These athletes have and amazing Oxidative system they can go all day! There are so many benefits to having a well developed Aerobic System. You heal quicker, your heart is healthier and efficient, your heart rate stays lower (better for you), your energy levels are higher, your ability process carbs is way better… The problem with not training in the other 2 systems is you lose your ability to be strong in both your muscle and joints, you don’t build speed or power which is a key attribute in any sport and your more susceptible to overuse injuries from being weak.

2. The Power/Strength Athlete- These athletes that love to lift and lift heavy heavily rely on the ATP-PC and Glycolytic Systems have a strong foundation of functional strength and are way less susceptible to overuse injuries, back problems and usually have very good core strength. As they get older they’ve built up the muscle to last them into their later years. The problem lies in there ability to heal fast between workouts, there hearts are not as efficient as they should be, there resting heart rate is typically higher and there missing out on the ability to burn carbohydrates more efficiently. The saving grace for weight gain is those who can maintain a good balance diet or are weight class athletes. 

I’m not sayin either athlete has to become what there not but I believe that spending time in the energy system they don’t use will not only help them but bring there game to whole new level.

Look out for my Performance Talk on Energy Systems coming up and we’ll nerd out on the subject for a while!

~Coach Dan