You may have tried training hard, tried training more, you tried mixing it up, only to be fatigued or even burnt out, and not seeing the results you’d expect for your efforts.
Unfortunately, in our industry we see far too many spinning their wheels going nowhere.
In order to progress we need to adapt, which means we need to provide a new stimulus in order to get a new result, this allows the body to continue to adapt without plateau.
We know to get stronger we need to lift more and what we do in our workout sets us up for our next workout and beyond.When it comes to creating a more complete training program you need to consider not just progressing through weights, but the energy system utilised to develop that strength.
How many people do you know who always do 8-10 reps, or over 15 reps, or even those who continue to pound the treadmill even without ever lifting a weight?
You see, too often when people are in pursuit of a goal, they will stay in the one energy system hindering their ability to progress.
Today we’ll discuss the importance of training different energy systems and how you can use them to get the most out of your training.
As humans, we utilise 3 energy systems to do everything in our lives: A-Lactic, Lactic and Aerobic.
A-Lactic refers to quick energy utilisation for short, sharp and maximal efforts. It’s powerful, yet a finite resource which cannot be repeated beyond 3-10 seconds without recovery. Think, a quick explosive jump onto a couch when you see a spider on the ground.
Or in the gym when we are smashing a 10 second all out sprint on the assault bike we are using our A-lactic energy system which uses the bodies creatine phosphate as its energy source.
Think of this as absolute maximum expression at a very short burst.
The Lactate system refers to the energy pathway we would use for intense efforts that last a little longer. Remember that spider? Now it’s chasing you down the hallway, up the stairs & into your bedroom. The effort lasts around 30-60s and your puffed & feeling a tonne of ‘burn’ in your legs.
Or back in the gym when you crush that Air Assault for 60 seconds. Remember that burn when you begged for mercy?
That is the lactate accumulation from the energy production without readily available oxygen to help. The Lactic energy system uses predominantly sugars in the form of glycogen as its primary fuel source.
This is the stuff that BURNS and leaves you gasping for air.
The aerobic system now is the ability to utilise oxygen for the production of energy. Generally low intensity prolonged efforts use this system. It creates little metabolic by-products (AKA the lactate burn) and yields a large amount of energy.
In reference to the spider, you’re now jogging down the street to your parents house to get your old man to save the day.
And finally, if we increased that time on the assault bike to 40 minutes but at a steady pace, we would be using our aerobic energy system which relies on oxygen as the bodies primary fuel source.
Now you see, although there are 3 systems, we very rarely use the 1 system in isolation.
There is always an interplay between the 3, and any shift in intensity changes the dominance from one or the other at varying ratios.
So, whether wanting to shift body composition or simply get strong and powerful AF there are a few ways to enhance these systems to help you smash those goals!
We need to consider all energy systems if we really want to optimise our results and take our training to the next level. Progress will come to a halt when we only focus on the one energy system. This is because there is somewhat of an interdependence for improvement in any of the other systems.
For example, if you want to lift heavier, getting fitter will help you recover faster between lifts.
Or if you are a runner and want to run 5km, adding strength training to your training program can help you build power, picking up your pace and improving your overall time.
You see, often switching between energy systems and using them somewhat synergistically will help you improve overall and unlock potential that would have remained unseen if you had not trained these systems.
When it comes to programming in a periodised manner, we recommend starting with higher volume and lower intensity and week by week decreasing the volume and increasing the intensity.
Here is an example of how we would go about it:
Week 1: Endurance, in your training cycle this would be the highest volume and lowest intensity building up your muscles ability to withstand stress for long periods of time with longer working periods and lower rest.
Week 2: Hypertrophy or Strength Endurance. Whether it be upping the load in our lifts or pushing at a faster pace than the week prior, applying a new stimulus to adapt.
Week 3: Strength, this is where the intensity increases further, and volume decreases. In this phase we start to test the strength in the muscles.
Week 4: Power. This is where intensity is at its peak and volume is lowest. The rest time increases to compensate for the stress on your central nervous system giving you time to recover from the maximal efforts of your training.
We then would de-load by cycling back to endurance to allow the body to recover and positively adapt.
This is when adaptation in the body will be at its peak and you will see a consistent progression pattern using all the bodies energy systems in a periodised manner.
Allowing your body to adapt to a NEW training stimulus.
The key take away:
Mix up your training strategically by applying different energy systems with varying volume and intensities to ensure you’re always progressing while keeping your training interesting.
Most importantly, have fun!