Energy System Development Series


ESD/Energy Systems Development Training

By Coach E. Allen Founder Atlas Pro Training LLC 

This Blog series is an expansion of an article of mine that was published in the November 2016 edition of the Nonahood News. All reputable trainer try to tap into one of more of these energy systems to help their clients reach their specific training goals. Educate yourself and make sure you know the fundamentals of your training program. Enjoy the process and -TRAIN WITH A PURPOSE-

Whether you are high school athlete looking to gain an edge on the competition in your offseason/preseason training program or a weekend warrior training in your spare time for an obstacle race, marathon, or an adult athletic league, or trying to lose that last 10-15 lbs of holiday weight, the old way of improving your physical performance and condition has changed. Enter the phrase Energy System development (ESD) training. ESD training should be the foundation of any training plan to improve your performance; it could be the difference between competing at a high level, or coming up short in a game. In order for muscles to contract and produce movement ATP (adenosine triphosphate) must be present. The body’s energy system is responsible for converting ATP to usable form of energy called ADP (adenosine diphosphate). ADP can be produced using three energy system:

·        ATP-CP Phosphagen energy System- used during short term, high intensity activities Ex. Throwing a Shot Put, Sprinting, Olympic lifts of 2-4 reps: Last 1-30 sec   

·        Anaerobic Glycolytic energy System- used during medium/high intensity activities, Ex. Strength/endurance: lasts 30sec-3mins

·        Aerobic energy System- used during long durations of exercise lasting longer than 30 min to 1 hour.

So let’s look at the ATP-CP Phosphagen energy System which is used to produce energy for high intensity, quick powerful bursts of movement. This energy system does not require oxygen to produce ADP from ATP.  Creatine phosphate (which is stored in the skeletal muscles) is used to produce form ADP from ATP. This process is instant and the energy created is used and depleted almost just as fast, causing the athlete to fatigue faster. The goal when training this energy system is to use short bouts of exercise at a minimum volume (number of repetitions) to insure full recovery. As the athlete progresses through the training program the training load is increased not the volume (number of repetitions). This form of training (called Plyometric and or ballistic training) is used to increase the explosiveness of athlete, which increases the force that is produced during movement. Example of these forms of training are Box jumps, Medicine ball throws, and in Olympic lifting. This stress is beneficial to an athlete’s performance because by increasing the force that is produced during movement the athlete can run faster (by producing more force against the ground i.e. Box Jumps), which is referred to as improving the ground force reaction of the foot against the surface, which is essential to improving athletic performance. This energy system should be stressed in a conservative manor because the recovery time is longer than the duration of the energy systems use, and should be performed on a firm yet energy absorbent surface like rubber flooring.  The quality of the explosive movement is more important than quantity of repetitions of the movement.

The second energy system we are going to look at is the Anaerobic Glycolytic energy System, which uses glycogen stores from the muscle and blood glucose to produce energy. This is considered by many trainers (including myself) as the predominate energy system, which is used to produce energy to sustain movements that last 30 sec to 3 minutes. It does not require oxygen but produces lactate acid which causes muscles to fatigue and shut down. The goal when training this energy system is to improve the lactate threshold (which is the time that it take for the muscle to experience limitations due to the accumulation of lactic acid) the athlete. This is an important aspect of improving the muscular endurance of the athlete, which is the goal to decrease the chance of injury and increase their work capacity during competition. Strength training with a focus on limiting the recovery times 30sec to 1min between sets and exercises; also tempo runs (running at 70-80% effort for short distances less than a mile for repetition).

The third energy system we are going to look at is the Aerobic energy system, which uses oxygen to produce APD from body stored fat and skeletal muscle, making it the most complex of the three and the most labor intensive energy system. The Aerobic energy system is used during activities that last for relatively long durations, like 30 min to 1-2+hours. The goal of training this energy system is to improve the cardiovascular efficiency of the athlete. This form of training improves the work capacity of the athlete allowing them to train for longer periods reducing debilitating cardiovascular fatigue. This could be considered the foundation of improving the performance of the athlete. Steady state cardiovascular training such as distance runs between 1-3 miles (depending on the sport the athlete is training) can be used to train this energy system, and some forms of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with recovery times that are limited to less than 1 minute between exercises.  

The goal of any training program should be to develop these energy systems and “train” them to produce the energy in an efficient manor during practice and competition so that energy is readily available to the muscles during physical activity.   All of three energy systems are interdependent of each other, but in most sports one energy system or a combination of two of the three are required to make things happen. This goes into the concept of sport specific training and how to create training programs that are designed specifically to produce the improvements in muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and improvements in speed and power of the athlete. As your youth athlete enters the offseason training program’s make sure that EDS training is the foundation of their training program. 

Over the next few blog post I will be exploring how a training specific energy system can:                  

  • Improve Performance
  • Increase Weight Loss
  • Increase Muscular size and Strength

Your Comments are welcomed below!