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METHODICAL APPROACH TO TRAINING BY THE ENERGY SYSTEMS

 

    There is no secret or mystery about the energy systems and their effectiveness when clearly understood. Track and field coaches must understand energy system capabilities and limitations to design appropriate and sequenced training programs. In teaching athletes to listen to their body and pay attention to their performance during training sessions, adjustments can be furnished in the sequenced workout with careful understanding of the energy systems.
    It is the intention of this paper to provide the coach with a workout training system based on accurate scientific knowledge as it relates to the energy systems.
 

ATP - The source of muscular energy

    Adenosine Triphosphate, or more simply ATP, is the immediate usable form of chemical energy for muscular activity. This is one of the most important of the "energy rich" compounds which is stored in all cells, particularly muscle cells. All forms of chemical energy available from the food we eat must eventually be transferred into ATP form before they can be utilized by the muscle cell.
    The ATP molecule consists of a large complex molecule called adenosine with three simple components called phosphate groups.
    The amount of ATP in the muscle cell is limited and could be depleted in 1 - 2 seconds unless recharged to maintain muscular activity, thus, immediate synthesis of ATP is necessary. ATP supplies must be kept at peak concentration and must never fall below 60% 'of its resting levels for muscular activity to continue.

 

 

The three systems of metabolic pathways available to replace ATP concentrations are:

1. Anaerobic Phosphagen (ATP-CP) Energy System

2. Anaerobic Lactate (Glycolytic) Energy System

3. Aerobic Energy System

THE ANAEROBIC (ATP-CP) ENERGY SYSTEM

    An energy rich compound called Creatine Phosphate (CP) is present in the muscle cell. This compound is used for the immediate resynthesis of ATP following very high intensity exercise. The resynthesis of ATP from CP will continue until all the creatine phosphate stores are depleted, usually under 10 seconds. The enzyme that makes this reaction possible is Creatine Kinase (CK) as follows:

This diagram shows that the reaction is reversible


    The amount of ATP that can be resynthesized can last for 4 to 5 seconds. Remember the 1 to 2 second supply from ATP stores, so collectively, you have about 5 to 7 seconds of ATP production.
    To challenge this system, high intensity, workouts of 4 to 7 seconds. High intensity work (Sprints) involves moving the limbs at near peak velocity. More specifically, it involves the selective recruitment of motor unit pathways to improve the efficiency and firing of correct motor units that are available depending on the TYPE, INTENSITY, and. DURATION of work executed. This motor learning must be rehearsed (Practiced) at high speeds to develop and implant the complex recruitment for synchronized firing of these motor units.
    

Points that must be followed in the training sessions:

1. The speed component of anaerobic metabolism should be trained when no fatigue is present.

2. Most athletes require 24-36 hours of rest with low intensity work before doing maximum speed work again.

3. In weight training, work sets of around 3-4 repetitions, where the athlete is unable to perform more than 4 repetitions (4 rep max) with sufficient recovery, usually a few minutes between sets.

4. The time period necessary for the proper resynthesis of ATP and CP.

        Recovery rates for CP resynthesis.

            A. 30 seconds - 50%

            B. 1 minute - 75%

            C. 90 seconds - 80%

            D. 3 minutes - 98%

        It is obvious why 2 to 3 minutes minimum between sets is necessary for recovery.

5. Four (4) sets, involving 480 meters (i.e., 4 X 4 X 120m/set) in total distance in a practice session is sufficient to stimulate this system.

ANAEROBIC (ATP-CP) SPEED WORK

INTENSITY                                                                                                     95-100%
DISTANCE OF RUN                                                                                     20-60 meters
NUMBER OF REPS                                                                                     3-4

SET NUMBER OF SETS                                                                             3-4 (5)
TOTAL DISTANCE IN SET                                                                          80-120 Meters
TOTAL DISTANCE IN SESSION                                                                400-600 Meters

 

SAMPLE SESSIONS:

 

SPRINTS
A B C
5X30 4X30 4X40
4X40 4X40 4X50
---- 4X50 4X60
310 METERS 480 METERS 600 METERS

 

HURDLING

A B
5X50 5X50
5X35 5X70
425 METERS 600 METERS


 

SPEED RESISTANCE WEIGHT TRAINING

4-6 REPS/SET

4-5 SETS

4-6 SECONDS DURATION/SET

 

THE ANAEROBIC LACTATE (GLYCOLYTIC) SYSTEM

    The demand for energy (ATP) dictates which energy system will be challenged. After 10 seconds of high-intensity training, CP stores are depleted and the body must look for another source of ATP to maintain that level of exercise. Muscle must then resort to stored glucose for ATP. This process is called the Anaerobic Lactate System. To challenge the lactate (glycolytic) system, the breakdown of glucose or glycogen anaerobically produces energy plus lactate and hydrogen ions (H+ ). When the demand for energy exceeds the body's ability to produce energy with oxygen, the muscle will become acidic. The presence of hydrogen ions, not lactate, makes the muscle acidic which will eventually halt muscle function.
    For each lactate molecule, one corresponding hydrogen ion is formed. This system operates in the muscle cell and its chemical reaction is:

    When hydrogen ion concentrations increase, the blood and muscle become acidic. This acidic environment resulting from anaerobic glycolysis will slow down enzyme activity and ultimately the breakdown of glucose itself. Also, acidic muscle will aggravate associated nerve endings causing pain and increase irritation of the central nervous system.

 

ANAEROBIC GLYCOLYSIS

    Glucose or Glycogen is broken down to pyruvate to provide high energy phosphates. Simultaneously, the reduction of the co-enzyme NAD, which acts as a hydrogen acceptor (Electron Carrier) forms NADH2. Pyruvate is reduced by the enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) by releasing the hydrogen to NADH2 to form lactate.
    The formation of lactate is not necessary for the delivery of energy, but it serves a storehouse for the hydrogen ion, and thereby keeps the reaction going. Under anaerobic conditions, the accumulation of hydrogen ions is the limiting factor causing fatigue in runs of 300-800 meters.
    The task now is to link this scientific information and to develop accurate and working methods to design training sessions that challenge the lactate energy system. Distances of 300-600 meters may be used by coaches to train the anaerobic glycolysis system. Due to the possibility of injury, it is necessary to mentally and physically prepare to do this intense anaerobic training. High quality lactate work can shock the body and the central nervous system. Thus, loads (Total Distance and Volume) and intensities (Percent of Maximum) must be progressively sequenced. For example, sequencing workouts to prevent injuries may be achieved by planning each day of the week for an entire year. Each workout is a single unit of preparation designed to produce a desired result and each session is more demanding than the previous in some way.

 


    Recovery sessions from high quality lactate work must be sequenced in a set pattern. A second year athlete will not work at the same level that a sixth year athlete would. Prior knowledge of the athlete's work capacities and prior experience is essential in dictating the load and intensity in each unit.
    The accumulation of lactate in working skeletal muscle is associated with fatigue of this system after 50 to 60 seconds of maximum effort. Although all energy systems basically turn on at the same time, be aware that progressive recruitment of alternative pathways or systems occurs when one system is challenged more heavily, since another energy source has been depleted. In most cases only 1-5 reps with full or near full recovery can be done twice a week. Only by challenging the energy systems required for each event will the desired physiological change and maximal performance occur. Understand, at times, less work gives greater rewards.
    To tie together this enormous lactate puzzle requires an understanding of 3 different working units within this energy system.

 

 

Speed Endurance: To challenge the anaerobic (glycolytic) system, runs are done at maximal or submaximal speed (95-100%) for approximately 8 to 20 seconds (60-150 meters), like speed, this involves a motor educational process to implant the correct patterns, not the actual energy source. Speed endurance runs can be done without the penalizing disadvantage of heavy lactate accumulation. No more than 2 to 3 sets or 300-1200 meters in total distance should be run. Sets of 2 to 5 reps with 2 to 5 minutes recovery between sets, and 8 to 10 minutes between reps is recommended.

Special Endurance I: This refers to the technical demand and/or the anaerobic glycolytic energy system demands. Runs are done at 90 to 100% for approximately 20 to 40 seconds (150 - 300 meters) with complete or near complete recovery (10-20 minutes) between reps. 1 to 5 reps are done for this competition specific type endurance for 300 to 1200 meters in total distance.

Special Endurance II: 1 to 3 runs are done at 90 to 100% intensity for approximately 40 seconds to 2 minutes, 300-600 meters, with complete or near complete recovery (20-30 minutes). Low intensity jogging or tempo runs (60% VO2 intensity) will help recovery and removal of lactate in 20 to 30 minutes. If just walking or sitting recovery is done, it will take 1-2 hours to remove lactate accumulation.

 

SPEED ENDURANCE

SPECIAL ENDURANCE I

SPECIAL ENDURANCE II

INTENSITY

90-100%

90-100%

90-100%

DISTANCE OF RUN

80-150 METERS

150-300 METERS

300-600 METERS

NUMBER OF REPS PER SET

2-5

1-5

1-4

NUMBER OF SETS

2-3

1

1

DISTANCE PER SESSION

300-1200 METERS

300-1000 METERS

300-1800 METERS

 

 

SPRINTING

 

SPEED ENDURANCE

SPECIAL ENDURANCE I

SPECIAL ENDURANCE II

DISTANCE OF RUNS 60, 80, 100 METERS 150, 200 METERS 400 METERS
NUMBER OF REPS 1 1 1
NUMBER OF SETS 3 2 3
DISTANCE PER SESSION 720 METERS 700 METERS 1200 METERS
DISTANCE OF RUNS 120 & 150 METERS 250 METERS 300 & 350 METERS
NUMBER OF REPS 5 (3 @ 120 & 2 @ 120 + 150) 1 2 (1 @ 300 & 1 @ 300 + 350)
NUMBER OF SETS 2 3 1
DISTANCE PER SESSION 900 METERS 750 METERS 950 METERS
DISTANCE OF RUNS     600 METERS
NUMBER OF REPS     3
NUMBER OF SETS     1
DISTANCE PER SESSION     1800 METERS

 

 

HURDLING
 

SPEED ENDURANCE

SPECIAL ENDURANCE I

SPECIAL ENDURANCE II

DISTANCE OF RUNS 100 METERS (HURDLES) 200 & 250 METERS (HURDLES) 300 METERS (HURDLES)
NUMBER OF REPS 2 3 (2 @ 200 & 1 @ 200 + 250) 3
NUMBER OF SETS 3 1 1
DISTANCE PER SESSION 600 METERS 850 METERS 900 METERS



THE AEROBIC ENERGY SYSTEM

    The aerobic system is able to utilize proteins, fats and carbohydrates (glycogen) for re-synthesizing large amounts of ATP without simultaneously generating limiting by- products. The aerobic system is particularly suited for manufacturing ATP during prolonged, endurance type activities. Again, the intensity of the run dictates which energy system will be challenged and the method of ATP production in the muscle.
 

 

    In the aerobic system, pyruvate from the glucose, glycogen and/or fatty acids is first converted to acetyl CoA, which is then oxidized to Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and water (H2O). Oxidation of acetyl CoA occurs in the Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle) and the electron transport system located in the mitochondrion.
    For each molecule of blood glucose oxidized aerobically, 36 molecules of ATP are produced while liver glycogen produces 37-39 molecules of ATP. liver glycogen is capable of producing 1 more molecule of ATP than blood glucose because it takes 1 ATP molecule to transfer blood glucose into the cell. The energy production in aerobic metabolism is 18 times greater than in the anaerobic system production of ATP.
    The carbon atoms of acetyl CoA are converted to carbon dioxide and the hydrogen atoms (containing electrons) are transferred to oxygen to form water. Note: that for this system to function, oxygen must be available, hence the term aerobic. It is the availability of oxygen, coupled with the intensity and duration, factors previously mentioned, in the cell that helps determine what extent the process is aerobic and anaerobic.

 

    If the aerobic energy system cannot supply enough oxygen (anaerobic), pyruvate accumulates. This is a critical step because, as pyruvate concentration increases, it becomes a hydrogen acceptor and forms lactate. The rapid increase in hydrogen ions, not lactate, creates an acidic environment which will eventually lead to the slowing down of all energy systems.
    Lactate is a small molecule that easily diffuses from the cell into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the buffering system allows anaerobic glycolysis to continue for up to several minutes depending on the intensity of the exercise. In recovery, lactate is a preferred fuel source that is quickly metabolized by the body.
    The following diagram illustrates various ways in which the aerobic metabolic pathway can be challenged and conditioned for athletes.
 

(Tempo refers to intensity of the run and may involve runs between 40 - 90% intensity)

CONTINUOUS TEMPO (General Endurance):

    Heart rate is a good indicator of work stress. If you know the athletes maximum heart rate, you may u&e this number to determine their exercise work intensity. If you do not know the maximum heart rate, you may predict it by using: 220 minus Age. Using a twenty year old athlete (220 minus AGE = predicted maximum heart rate), his/her assumed maximal heart rate would be 200 BPM. The concentration of lactate in the blood starts to increase when work loads exceed 60% intensity. (HR 100-140) depending of the condition of the athlete. Easy runs using the continuous method, commonly referred to as tempo runs, help to improve recovery and the athlete's fatiguing mechanisms. The body's capability of oxygen absorption depends upon the size and strength of the heart, the extensive network of capillary blood vessels, number of mitochondria, the quality (hemoglobin and hematocrit) and blood volume.

 

Note: The above formula does not work for the older "well conditioned" athlete. For the 50+ year old athlete, 210 minus 1/2 of the athletes age is a better predictor. RKD

 

    The most important part of blood, with respect to oxygen uptake, is the red corpuscle (Er) erythrocyte which transports the iron-containing hemoglobin (Hb) which readily combines with oxygen. Hemoglobin has the potential to combine with 1.34 mL/grams of oxygen. For example, a hemoglobin level of 15 g/dL of blood would transport approximately 20 mL of oxygen per dL It is clear that the more hemoglobin the red blood cell contains, the more oxygen it will be able to carry from the heart and lungs to the working muscles. From this point of view, it is of primary importance to develop the aerobic energy system to assist recovery and lower the athlete's fatigue levels. This method involves runs at 50-70% (HR 100-140) intensity continuously, as long slow distance runs.
    Slow, continuous long term exercise places a great load on muscle and liver glycogen. Long duration activity will decrease levels of muscle and liver glycogen. For example, the limiting factor in long duration activity (marathon) is glucose availability. The normal adaptation response to this type of activity will ultimately enhance muscle and liver glycogen storage capacities and glycolytic activity associated with these processes.

 

EXTENSIVE TEMPO:

    When running at 60-80% (HR 120-160) intensity, the trained athlete will experience lactate formation but only a fraction of those levels reached while running at 90-100% intensity. Continuous running at ex1:ensive tempo levels assists the removal and turnover of lactate and the body's ability to tolerate greater levels of lactate. Submaximal work levels of 60-80%, lactate forms in large amounts, because the oxidative system is insufficient to meet the demands of the muscle. Thus, creating a state of oxygen shortage or oxygen debt which accelerates the demand for anaerobic energy production. This level may not occur until well into the workout or during intensive tempo work. This method involves relaxed and smooth running at 60-80% intensity, to assist recovery and enhance the oxidative mechanisms.

 

INTENSIVE TEMPO:

    While running at 80-90% intensity, a relaxed, smooth and controlled tempo will allow an athlete to run without undue stress. Theoretically, tempo training enhances an athlete's ability to recruit fewer muscle fibers at the same race speed which would reduce the energy cost and improve individual performance. Insufficient oxygen and the build-up of lactate is associated with muscle fatigue, owing to a build-up of waste products causing fatigue. The onset of this condition is determined to a large extent by the efficiency of circulation developed with continuous and extensive tempo preparation. Exercise of 6 to 12 reps can be done when a resting pulse rate of around 120 is reached. Tempo work of all three levels is used by progressively increasing intensity and gradually working into special and speed endurance sessions. Intensive tempo training lays the base for the development of anaerobic energy systems which follow.
    Note that lactate levels can become quite high using intensive tempo work since it borders on speed endurance and special endurance. Remembering that all energy systems turn on at basically the same time, intensive tempo running makes high demands on both the aerobic and anaerobic, and thus, is a sharing system.
    The chart and diagram below illustrates the energy continuum or energy spectrum which shows the relative contributions of aerobic and anaerobic energy sources during various durations of maximal exercise.



 

  ATP - CP and Lactic Acid System                                                                            Oxygen System

% Aerobic 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
% Anaerobic 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Event (M) 100 200 400 800 1500     5000   10,000 Marathon
Time (Min:Sec) 0:10 0:20 0:45 1:45 3:40     13:30   28:00 135:00

 

Summary

    ATP must be continually produced at rest to maintain homeostasis (maintenance of internal environment) and during exercise to meet increasing energy demands. The three metabolic pathways by which the body can produce ATP include: the anaerobic (ATP-CP) energy system, the anaerobic lactate (glycolytic) energy system, and the aerobic energy system. In order to get specific adaptations to each of the energy systems, the coach must scientifically design workouts to challenge them. Anaerobic phosphagen speed work stresses the alactate system. Speed endurance, special endurance I, and special endurance II workouts stress the lactate system in different ways. The aerobic energy system is stressed by having athletes engage in continuous, extensive, and intensive tempo runs. Finally, if a coach has a general understanding of the energy systems and the energy continuum, he/she can more effectively design workouts that meet the specific energy demands for the events that their athletes compete in.
 

A Practical Example:

    An example of how one might apply the knowledge you have learned about the energy systems utilizing the principle of specificity, discussed in training methodology, is as follows: suppose you are coaching a high school female miler who has run a 5:00 mile. Which energy systems are challenged by running the mile? What types of training should you do based on a task analysis of the energy systems challenged? One approach might be to use the energy continuum or energy spectrum chart above which indicates that the 1500 or mile requires about 50% of the energy needs from anaerobic sources and 50% from aerobic sources. As a coach you might then determine that you should do training which stresses both energy sources and vary the training based on periodization principles (see Training Theory Lecture). Based upon her mile race pace of 75 seconds per lap, you could determine the intensity and durations of runs as discussed in the above text which would optimize her individualized training program.
 

Selected References:
1. Astrand, P.O. and K. Rodahl. Textbook of Work Physiology. McGraw Hill: New York, 2nd ed, 1982.
2. Bangsbo, J., Gollnick, P.D., Graham, T.E, Juel, C., Kiens, B., Mizuno, M., Saltin, B. Anaerobic energy production and 02 deficit-debt relationship during exhaustive exercise in humans. J. Physiol. Lond. 42:539-559, 1990.
3. Coggan, A.R and B.D. Williams. Metabolic adaptations to endurance training substrate metabolism during exercise. In Exercise Metabolism. Hargreaves, M. (Editor) Champaign, II.: Human Kinetics, 1995.
4. Fox, EL, RW. Bowers and M.L Foss. The Physiological Basis of Physical Education and Athletics. W.C. Brown: Dubuque, Iowa, 4th ed., 1989.
5. Gollnick, P.D. and L Hennansen. Biochemical adaptation to exercise: anaerobic metabolism. In Wilmore, J.H. (Editor) Exerc. Sports Sci. Rev. New York: Academic Press, 1-43, (Vol. 1) 1973.
6. Hennansen, L Anaerobic energy release. Med. Sci. Sports. 1;32-38, 1969.
7. Saltin, B. Anaerobic capacity: past, present, and perspective. In Taylor, A.W., Gollnick, P.D., Green, H.J., Ianuzzo, E.D., Noble, E.G., Metiver, G., Sutten, ].R. (Editors) Biochemistry of Exercise. Champaign, IL.: Human Kinetics, 1990: 387-412 (Vol. VII).

8. Spriet, LL Anaerobic metabolism during high-intensity exercise. In Exercise Metabolism. Hargreaves, M. (Editor) Champaign, 11.: Human Kinetics, 1995.
9. Williams, e. Energy nutrients and their metabolism. New Studies-in-Athletics. 2:2, 71- 84, 1987.
10. Winckler, G. and V. Gambetta. Classifications of energy systems for sprint training. Track Techniques, 100,3193-3195,1987.
 

FROM: USATF COACHING EDUCATION PROGRAM--BY: Jack Ransome, Ph.D., Tinker Murray, Ph.D., Bob LeFavi, Ph.D., Robert Vaughn, Ph.D., Joe Vigil, Ph.D.


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