I have had a series of training questions from some clients over the last few weeks which has warranted a bit of writing regarding energy systems. A lot of new clients will ask ‘what is the best type of training?.’ This loaded question comes with a whole heap of additional questions like, what is the client wanting to achieve? How long have they been training for / experience? What do they enjoy doing etc.
For the majority of my clients (general population) they are looking to get a stronger, to improve their movement patterns, to increase their general health and increase confidence. Our clients at The Fit Collective are not elite athletes with hours per day to invest in training, recovery, nutrition, they work full time jobs, study, take care of children, run households, they have 5-6 hours per week to invest in their training. Hence, when we are exposed to a particular ‘style’ of training claiming to have all the answers that fits into this timeframe we jump on it.
At The Fit Collective, we are mindful of how often our clients can train, their lifestyles and we recognise that while yes, being a part of our community does require some level of commitment our clients have other demands outside of our gym. So how do we make the most out of the time we have with each of our members? We train efficiently and effectively. Our programs are not simply slapped together on the day of delivery, we assess what the week is looking like, the purpose behind the training and how we are going to deliver it to ensure our clients get the best out of each session. We focus on a 12 week training program that encourages training across all three energy systems ATP-CP, Anaerobic System and Aerobic System. Developing a basic understanding of each of these energy systems is important for our clients as it helps them not only appropriately schedule their training for the week but it also gives them further knowledge and understanding of how to increase their performance through training.
The Energy Systems
Uses creatine phosphate as its’ primary fuel source. Our ATP-CP energy system is what provides the highest power output however, this source of energy is depleted within 10 seconds. Think MAX efforts when utilising ATP-CP. When I speak about max efforts, these efforts should leave you feeling depleted. Often we are told to ‘max’ out with only 20-30 seconds recovery time, if this is the structure of your training program you are unlikely working in the ATP-CP energy system but rather the anaerobic energy system as detailed below. Think power, sprints, one rep max lifts etc.
Our anaerobic system allows us to work for short intervals between 5-30 seconds with shorter recovery and repeated efforts. Utilising carbohydrates stored within our muscles as our main energy source (glycogen) and then producing lactic acid (due to lack of oxygen available). Often alongside fitness trends, clients will search for this hurt with little understanding of how they are getting there and then all of a sudden they associate this hurt with a successful training session every time they step into the gym and neglecting training the ATP-CP and aerobic energy systems.
Our aerobic system is our energy source for activity over 30-60 seconds. Our aerobic system requires oxygen to create ATP beyond 60 seconds (-ish) and can provide generally unlimited amounts of energy. We use our aerobic system for longer duration training sessions and/or events however our anaerobic energy system can play an important role during times of exertion.
Each energy system has a purpose and they aren’t mutually exclusive energy systems in terms of how each will add to our fitness levels. How you train will largely depend on your goals, and whilst this is by no means an exhaustive description of each energy system and how to train in each system, just from this short and simplified description you are able to see how variations in your programming can assist in making well rounded progress over a period of time as well as tailoring your program and focus depending on your goals. You can also see how neglecting one energy system is simply hindering your progress across the board when it comes to increasing your fitness.