The Three Energy Systems

The Three Energy Systems

The Three Energy Systems
The Three Energy Systems

The Three Energy Systems

The first way the body gets ATP is through the phosphagen system, also known as the ATP-CP system, which uses the ATP stored in the muscles to supply that energy. The body can store enough ATP at any one time to allow for around 3 seconds of full powered exertion (a little more or a little less depending on your physical fitness and various other factors), at which point it will need to look elsewhere.

Fortunately breaking the ATP molecules results in some useful bi products – ADP (andenosinediphosphate) and AMP (andenosine monophosphate) with two and one bonded phosphagen molecules respectively. So if you imagine you have three bonded molecules and they break you will understandably be left with a one and a two, or three single molecules. It’s basic maths… The good news is that using a substance called creatine phosphate (hence the CP!) can then recombine these molecules to make them back into ATP ready to be broken once more for extra energy. The body can store enough creatine for roughly 8-10 seconds of continued exertion, meaning that in total the body can use the phosphagen system for around 13 seconds maximum of continued exertion.That is enough to sprint just over 100 metres. It is thought however that through the use of creatine supplements that this maximum time can be increased marginally.

At this point if exertion continues the body needs to get its ATP from somewhere else and this is when it looks to its stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. This represents the shift to what is known as the ‘glycogen lactic acid system’.

This system is a slightly slower and less efficient means of supplying energy, which requires the body to split the glycogen first into glucose and then again into ATP. This unfortunately creates a number of unwanted by-products called metabolites including lactic acid (from which the substance takes its name).This metabolic build-up creates the uncomfortable, mildly painful ‘burning’ sensation we get in our muscles when we push ourselves in the gym. The body can sustain itself using the glycogen lactic acid system for a further one minute and thirty seconds until this build up becomes too much to tolerate. If we continue to try and push ourselves at MHR past this point, it can lead to nausea and even fainting.

It was long believed that lactic acid was actually responsible for this failure and for the burning sensation. However, more recent research has shown us that lactate is not harmful in itself but rather seems to correlate with other factors that fatigue the glycogen lactic acid system. Thus high level athletes can still monitor their build-up of lactate in the blood in order to calculate a ‘lactate inflection point’. With training, it is possible to improve tolerance to metabolites and thus sustain maximum exertion for longer.

Guess what you can use to improve this aspect of your fitness? HIIT!

Both these systems are anaerobic, meaning that for the first one minute and forty-three seconds the body won’t be using oxygen or burning fat.

In order to lose weight then the training must continue past this point and force the body to find its energy elsewhere. This is where the aerobic system comes in, relying on the oxidisation of foodstuffs in our mitochondria. In other words, the body looks to our supplies of glycogen (and so ATP) stored in our cells as fat and then uses the oxygen in our blood to break them down and carry them to our muscles. This is then what leads to fat being burned directly. This forces us to breathe more heavily in order to supply the necessary amount of oxygen and it increase our heartrate further to transport the oxygen to the fat stores and then to bring the energy to our muscles and brain.

The aerobic energy system can actually be used indefinitely and will continue until you completely exhaust all supplies of energy located around the body. During a typical prolonged endurance test, you will find you also breakdown protein for energy and even muscle. This in contrast to high intensity exercises that will use 100% carbohydrates for fuel, purely because they provide the quickest and most accessible source of ATP.

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Some Exciting Training Methods You Probably Haven’t Heard of That Will Transform Your Training

Some Exciting Training Methods You Probably Haven’t Heard of That Will Transform Your Training

Exciting Training Methods
Exciting Training Methods

Exciting Training Methods

There are several new training protocols out there at the moment that have captured the imagination of the web’s fitness enthusiasts. These include concepts like HIIT and tabata. Kettlebell workouts are big at the moment too.

But these are just two types of training that you can use to mix things up and see better results. And actually, there are many more exciting and alternative ways to train like this that simply haven’t made it into the mainstream.

The great news is that the more of these you learn, the more options you’ll have for your own training and the easier it will be to meet your precise goals. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting options then…

Cardio Acceleration

Cardio acceleration is similar to HIIT in that you’re combining a form of high intensity exercise with something a little more slow-paced. In this case, you are going to combine intense CV with resistance training. In that way, your routine will be just like any other weight lifting routine but in between sets – when you would normally be resting – you will instead engage in high intensity cardio, whether that’s sprinting or tuck jumps. It’s highly effective at burning fat but it’s also brutal!

Fasted Cardio

Want to get even more bang for your cardio buck? Then try ‘fasted cardio’. This is simply cardio that you perform first thing in the morning – before you have even had breakfast. This way, you train before you have given your body any food and that means you’ll have low glycogen stores and low blood sugar. You’ll therefore be in a much more catabolic state and your body will have no choice but to use your fat for energy. Combined, these factors result in much greater fat burn!

Cardio Finishers

One way to combine cardio and weightlifting is to finish a resistance training workout with a cardio ‘finisher’. A finisher is simply and intense burst of cardio exercise tacked onto the end of your weights work. This is enough to blast a few more calories and to ensure that you’ll use up all the juice left in the tank before you head home from the gym.

Fartlek

HIIT usually means switching between different combinations of rest periods and intensive exercise. Normally, this follows a steady pattern but in fartlek training – which translated literally as ‘time play’ – you have more freedom to try different combinations. You can switch between more than two levels of exercise (sprinting, walking and jogging for example) and you can decide to mix and match them how and when you want to.

MetCon

MetCon stands for ‘metabolic conditioning’ and is essentially what you get when you combine a relatively basic form of resistance exercise with a high intensity approach. The idea is to train your metabolism as much as your muscles, which you accomplish by performing short and focussed bursts of exercise in a structure manner.

Read more in this great ebook: HIIT – high intensity interval training

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How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

Maximum Weight Loss
Maximum Weight Loss

How to Design a MetCon Circuit for Maximum Weight Loss and Muscle Building

If you take a look on YouTube for a workout, you’ll find that they often come in the form of ‘ten-minute whole body routines’ and the like. These are designed as circuits and they usually incorporate a range of exercises such as squats, clapping press ups, bicep curls and tuck jumps.

In theory, this type of workout can be highly beneficial for both building muscle and burning fat. That’s because it comes very close to mimicking a HIIT workout – encouraging short bursts of high intensity, followed by short resting periods. At the same time, the lack of rest increases the intensity and potentially allows for some real muscle damage and metabolic stress in a short amount of time.

But not all of these workouts are made equal and some of them simply don’t work all that well. Be careful when finding workouts online!

Read on and we’ll see how to design a workout that does work, that uses these principles.

How to Burn Fat With a Circuit

Workouts that are designed to use high intensity intervals combined with resistance training and calisthenics are called ‘metcon’. This stands for ‘metabolic conditioning’ and should in theory improve your metabolism.

If you want to create a workout that falls into this category though, then you need to make sure that you are actually fulfilling the criteria of ‘metabolic conditioning’. This means that you need to be reaching 90-100% of your maximum heart rate during your exercise. You’re not going to do that with lunges and sit-ups, so make sure you include something like tuck jumps, like clapping press ups or like high knees.

The other thing to keep in mind though, is that you can’t maintain 90-100% MHR for more than a minute in most cases. Thus it’s important to provide breaks in your workout routine, so that some stations can be considered ‘active recovery’. An example might be to follow something like clapping press ups with something like plank.

More Tips

Another tip is to make sure that your circuit targets as many muscle groups as possible. The more different muscle you involve in your routines, the more you will stimulate the body to produce growth hormone and testosterone, which will lead to more muscle growth, even while you’re sleeping.

Another thing to do is to try and alternate the order that you hit each muscle group in so that you are switching from upper body to legs. This means that the body will have to direct blood from your arms down to your legs and back again – getting your heart to work harder and ultimately burning more calories as a result.

Finally, try to avoid adding any complex multi-joint exercises that are prone to injury at a point in the routine where you’re likely to be tired. If you’re going to perform deadlifts, then make sure that you do so at the start of the workout before you are exhausted. Doing deadlifts tired is a quick way to snap your back!

Read more about it here: HIIT it Hard – high intensity interval training

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How High Intensity Interval Training challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

How High Intensity Interval Training challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

High intensity interval training
High intensity interval training

How HIIT Challenges the Body and Improves Fat Loss

If you’ve read just about any fitness blog, magazine or website in recent years, then you’ll likely have come across HIIT.

HIIT: high intensity interval training. Sprinting at maximum heartrate for a short period of time and then switching to a slower form of exercise for a couple of minutes to recover before starting the whole cycle again.

This type of training is all the rage because it is known to burn more calories in less time when compared with steady state cardio. And it’s great for our VO2 max, mitochondrial function and more.

But why? How does it work? What makes it so special?

What Happens When You Push it Hard

When you engage in HIIT, you start out by pushing hard and going at or near to your maximum heart rate. This is what makes all the difference, as now you are depleting your body of all of its readily available energy in order to drive those fast twitch muscle fibers. This is anaerobic training and it relies on ATP stored in the muscles, as well as glycogen.

After this, you then switch to your regular exercise at around 70% of your maximum heart rate. This is a steady pace that you can maintain, that burns fat using the aerobic system and that allows you to recover and reduce the lactate and other metabolites that build up in your blood during intensive exercise.

Welcome to After Burn

Steady state cardio is normally something you can maintain for a long time before you start to tire out and this is why a lot of people will exercise by running at a steady pace for 40-60 minutes.

If you do this after having done high intensity training however, you will be running at a point when you have very little available energy in your muscles and in your blood. All the glycogen has been used up and thus you have to rely even more on fat in order to keep going. Your body becomes more efficient at burning fat and you see greater benefits from the short amount of training that comes after.

But this isn’t even the best bit. What’s so good about HIIT is that this after burn effect continues for hours after you finish training. You’re now going about your usual activities with less glycogen, which means you’ll burn more fat even to do regular things like picking up a fork, or walking across the room!

Athletic Benefits

HIIT is also great for numerous other reasons. For starters, the explosive nature of the training means that you’re involving your fast twitch muscle fibers. This means that you’ll release more anabolic hormones like growth hormone and like testosterone, leading to more growth. And because you’re not completely relying on your blood sugar, you’re not going to go into as catabolic a state and risk burning fat.

Another benefit of HIIT is that it improves your energy efficiency. Because you’re pushing your cells to make energy more quickly, they become better at doing just that – improving your health, fitness and athletic performance across the board!

High intensity interval training
High intensity interval training

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