The central theses
An energy system is a physiological process that describes how the body converts energy from food into a form that your cells can use to perform various functions.
When lifting weights, energy is extracted from the phosphocreatine, anaerobic and aerobic systems. By improving these three energy systems, you can improve your weight lifting performance.
Many weight lifters neglect one or more energy systems, but if you exercise each at least a little a week, you will likely look better and perform better.
If you've read books on weight lifting, endurance sports, or general training, you've probably come across the term energy system In front.
The more you read about energy systems, the more confused you become.
Most explanations of energy systems quickly develop into a complex firework of scientific terminology Cancer cycle. mitochondrial breathing. anaerobic glycolysisand other tongue twisters.
Fortunately, you don't need a degree in sports science to decode energy systems. You don't even have to know what most of these words mean.
Basically, energy systems describe how your body produces energy during physical activity, from crouching on a barbell to running a marathon to typing on a keyboard.
As you'll see in this article, better understanding how energy systems work can improve your performance by optimizing your workout and diet to support different energy systems, which in turn can improve your performance in different activities.
For example, have you ever wondered why your muscles start to burn and why you lose your breath with high repetitions?
Or why do you start to get tired after running for more than a few minutes?
Or why do most people recommend eating lots of carbohydrates to perform well as an athlete?
Energy systems provide answers to all of these questions.
In addition, understanding energy systems gives you a much better idea of how you can strengthen your body for sports activities because what you eat can significantly affect the efficiency of various energy systems in your body.
In this article, you will learn:
How energy systems work
Why your body uses different energy systems for different exercises
How to eat and exercise to improve the efficiency of different energy systems
How improving a particular energy system can help you gain muscle and strength
What is an energy system?
An energy system is a physiological process that describes how the body uses energy from food to fuel various body functions.
In particular, an energy system is the process your body uses to convert carbohydrates, protein, and fat into a form of energy that cells can use to do various activities like weight lifting, cycling, and running.
There is a lot to unpack in this sentence. So let's start at the beginning.
After eating a meal, the body breaks down the protein, carbohydrates and fat into smaller molecules.
Protein is broken down into molecules called amino acids, carbohydrates into molecules of a simple sugar called glucose, and fat into molecules called triglycerides.
Amino acids are primarily used as "building blocks" of cells and are rarely used for energy. The body sometimes converts a small portion of the amino acids into glucose when it has more than necessary or when it is unable to get enough glucose from other sources, but in this way is very inefficient and only produces enough glucose for basic body functions. In all respects, we can ignore protein as a source of energy.
Glucose is either used immediately for energy or packaged in bundles of known glucose molecules glycogenthat is packed away in the muscles and liver. Then the body breaks down this glycogen when it needs more glucose in the future, for example during training.
Triglycerides are either used immediately for energy or more frequently stored in the form of body fat, which is then broken down and used for energy if necessary.
It gets interesting here.
Before one of these molecules can be used to generate energy, it has to be converted into another compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
You can think of ATP as a kind of mobile currency.
You can get energy from a variety of different foods and macronutrients, but in the end everything is converted to ATP, which the cells then “spend” on different functions.
In order for a cell to use an ATP molecule to generate energy, it must first be broken down into several smaller molecules. This process creates by-products, which are then "returned" to ATP to be used again.
Of course, this process of ATP recycling always loses some energy, which is why you have to provide your body with more energy (calories) so that it can continue to recycle ATP.
When you exercise, your cells devour ATP at astonishing speed. For example, if you walk slowly, your body uses 200 percent more energy than it does at rest, and when you sprint, your cells burn ATP 1000 times faster as if you're sitting.
This brings us back to the topic of energy systems.
Basically, your body's energy systems are responsible for ensuring that your cells have a constant supply of ATP, whether you are sleeping, working at a desk or sprinting. In other words, regardless of how much ATP your body spends on various activities, your energy systems ensure that your cell's tills don't run out.
As you can imagine, supplying your cells with ATP is a difficult and complex task – too complex for a single energy system.
For this reason, the body uses three different energy systems to supply the cells with ATP. It depends on how quickly your body burns through energy. Read on to find out what that is.
Summary: An energy system is a physiological process that describes how the body converts energy from food to ATP to fuel various activities.
The three energy systems
You know what an energy system is and how it works.
They also know that your body's energy needs can vary many times depending on the level of activity and that your body uses different energy systems to ensure that ATP production keeps pace with consumption.
Now let's take a closer look at each of these energy systems and how they affect your performance.
The three energy systems are:
The phosphocreatine system
The anaerobic system
The aerobic system
All three systems have the same task – generating ATP for cells – but each has different strengths and weaknesses that make them unique for certain requirements.
1. The phosphocreatine system
phosphocreatine, also known as creatine phosphate, is a naturally occurring energy source found in muscle cells. The body creates phosphocreatine by chemically modifying creatine, which is found in animal products, especially red meat, and in creatine supplements.
The Phosphocreatine system uses phosphocreatine to produce ATP.
The main advantage of the phosphocreatine system is that it can produce a lot of ATP in no time. This makes it perfect for activities that require a very short, intense effort, such as B. sprinting or trying hard to repeat.
The disadvantage of the phosphocreatine system is that phosphocreatine can only be stored in small quantities before it's exhausted – just enough to allow about 10 to 20 seconds of activity.
The body naturally regenerates phosphocreatine, however it takes About five minutes or more until your muscles are fully charged. (That's why you should take creatine improves your performance– It improves the efficiency of your phosphocreatine system.)
You can think of the phosphocreatine system as a nitrogen-powered drag racing engine – it can produce an amazing amount of energy very quickly, after which it bubbles and stops abruptly.
To see this process in action, we can look at elite sprinters such as Wayde van Niekerk, the current world record holder for the 200, 300 and 400 meter runs.
The phosphocreatine system primarily drives its efforts up to 200 meters, but when its phosphocreatine supplies are exhausted, the pace slows down the further it runs.
Here is the man in action:
Here's what his split times usually look like:
0 to 100 meters: ~ 10 seconds
100 to 200 meters: ~ 20 seconds (no decrease in speed)
200 to 300 meters: ~ 31 seconds (1 second less speed)
300 to 400 meters: ~ 43 seconds (decrease in speed by 3 seconds)
In other words, even the best sprinters in the world don't keep a perfectly steady pace throughout the race. Instead, they optimize their phosphocreatine system as much as possible. After that, they have to rely more and more on their anaerobic system to get them to the finish line.
As a valued movement physiologist and researcher, Ross Tucker pointed outThis phenomenon is not only observed in Niekerk or due to the type of muscle fiber or the training methods, but is rather an innate aspect of human physiology. Although you can improve the efficiency of your phosphocreatine system by doing many intense, short intervals with plenty of rest (training like a sprinter), you will only get this far.
After 10 to 20 seconds of exertion, the anaerobic system begins to take control.
Summary: The phosphocreatine system produces ATP for short, intense bursts of force of around 10 to 20 seconds, but it fades quickly and takes much longer to recharge than other energy systems.
2. The anaerobic system
After an effort of approx. 10 to 20 seconds, the anaerobic energy system is activated starts producing the majority of ATP for your muscles.
This is called the anaerobic system because it regenerates ATP without the presence of oxygen. (On– means "without" and aerobics This enables faster, but not as efficient, energy generation as the aerobic system.
This is also called that glycolytic system because it derives most of its energy from the glycogen stored in your muscles and the glucose in your blood.
The main advantage of the anaerobic system is that it can produce a lot of energy for about two minutes before it wears off.
The main disadvantage is the anaerobic system produced Many metabolic by-products that quickly accumulate in the blood and muscles, and after about two minutes, these by-products begin to cause fatigue.
In other words, you can think of the anaerobic system as a racing car engine that runs “dirty”. You can step on the metal for a few minutes, but longer, and the wheels begin to fall off.
The anaerobic system is of great importance for weight lifting since most of your sets are powered by your anaerobic system in the range of 8 to 12 repetitions. This also applies to most types of HIIT cardio that last longer than 20 seconds.
The best way to improve your anaerobic system is (surprisingly!) To do a lot of anaerobic exercises:
High rep sets in the gym
HIIT intervals of one to two minutes
Sports that require a lot of sprinting, such as soccer, football and basketball
Summary: The anaerobic system produces ATP for intensive training that lasts longer than 20 seconds and less than two minutes, and charges relatively quickly compared to the phosphocreatine system.
3. The aerobic system
The aerobic system, also called that oxidative or respiratory tract System that produces the majority of ATP for your muscles after about a minute or two of training.
The aerobic system is strange in that it takes a few minutes to “warm up”. We don't need to go into the details of how this works, but suffice it to say that the chemical processes in the air take several minutes for the aerobic system to start producing significant amounts of ATP.
The advantage of the aerobic system, however, is that once it gets going it can produce a lot of ATP very efficiently for a Long Time. You can think of the aerobic system as a diesel engine – it can produce almost infinite amounts of energy, but it takes a few minutes for it to start.
The aerobic system uses a combination of glucose, glycogen and body fat to produce ATP, with the exact ratio depending on the intensity of the workout.
As your exercise intensity increases, your aerobic system uses more and more glucose and glycogen to produce ATP and less body fat. As your exercise intensity decreases, your aerobic system uses more and more body fat and less and less glucose and glycogen.
For this reason, many people believe that low-intensity cardio is better for fat loss than high-intensity cardio – it burns a larger percentage of fat. However, what these people miss is that cardio burns occur with higher intensity a lot of more total calories, which really drives long-term fat loss.
Because the aerobic system can produce significant amounts of ATP from body fat, it can drive ATP production for hours even if you don't eat carbohydrates. This even applies to slim people with little additional body fat.
For example, let's say a guy has about 8 percent body fat and 170 pounds – "shredded" by most standards. About 3 percent of this body fat is in his brain, nerves, and organs, which don't go away until you're close to death. As a result, he has about 5 percent body fat, which is available as an energy source.
If we multiply his weight (170) by his body fat percentage (5 percent or 0.05 as a decimal number), we calculate that he has 8.5 pounds of body fat that can be burned for energy. Assuming that every pound of body fat has about 3,500 calories, it means that this guy stores 30,000 calories of potential energy as body fat.
And since the aerobic system is the only one that can use body fat for energy, it offers you an almost unlimited source of ATP.
For this reason, the aerobic system is the primary system responsible for all types of endurance training, from running a mile to cycling on the Tour de France.
Some proponents of low-carb products have misinterpreted these facts to suggest that eating carbohydrates does not improve endurance performance because the aerobic system can use fat for energy.
Not as much.
It is true that the aerobic system allows you to exercise for hours without eating carbohydrates, but this is a limitation only works if you keep your intensity at around 60 percent of your maximum.
That means you can rely on your body fat stores until your exercise intensity exceeds about 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. After that, your body needs glucose to fuel your workouts, which can only be obtained in large quantities by eating carbohydrates.
If you are not familiar with endurance sports, an intensity of 6 out of 10 corresponds to a light jogging or easy spin class. If you do something more intense, you will benefit from eating carbohydrates.
Summary: The aerobic system generates most of the ATP during a workout lasting more than two minutes and mainly uses fat and glucose as an energy source.
Use energy systems to improve weight lifting performance
All three of these energy systems work all the time, but the contribution of each depends on the intensity and length of your workout.
At rest, your aerobic system produces almost all of the energy for your body.
With moderately intense exercises, the aerobic system produces most of the energy, but you also get some from the anaerobic system.
When training at high intensity, the aerobic system produces some energy, but the anaerobic system produces most of it.
And while you're doing everything you can to throw the ball against the wall, your phosphocreatine system produces most of the energy, the anaerobic system produces some, and the aerobic system produces almost none.
What does that have to do with weight lifting?
Well, many people think weightlifting is mainly driven by the phosphocreatine system and the anaerobic system.
During your setsThe body draws most of its energy from these two systems.
Between your setsHowever, if you catch your breath and your body tries to regenerate ATP before your next set, your aerobic system does the lion's share of the work.
The best way to improve the phosphocreatine and anaerobic system when lifting weights is to only lift weights in a variety of repetitive ranges – like programs like Bigger Leaner Stronger or Thinner Leaner Stronger.
Weightlifting performance depends somewhat on your aerobic system, but it does not significantly improve it. That means a little aerobic exercise may benefit your weight lifting.
In other words, it's fair to say that improving your aerobic system – a bit of cardio – would help you recover faster between sets, which could lead to more muscle and strength gains over time.
For example, suppose you typically rest three minutes between two sets. Let us also say that improving your aerobic conditioning can make you feel refreshed after three minutes of rest or after just two minutes of rest. If you could put more strength into your workout or lift heavier weights, it would almost certainly help you build more muscle and get stronger over time.
Of course, there is a lot of "if" in this idea, and a simple counter argument is that there are many tall, strong guys who frolic in gyms and do little or no cardio.
However, I would argue that this approach has little or no disadvantages. So it's still worth doing this.
For one thing, there is irrefutable evidence Aerobic training offers countless health benefits and reduces the risk of Cardiovascular disease. diabetes. cancer. Alzheimer, and many other diseases,
Second, moderate aerobic exercise, especially in low-impact forms like rowing or cycling. don't interfere with weight lifting performance or muscle building.
In other words, it makes sense to do at least a little cardio as there are many advantages and disadvantages.
Summary: Your body relies heavily on the aerobic system to regenerate ATP between sets, and aerobic exercise (cardio) is likely to improve your weight lifting performance over time.
The conclusion on energy systems
An energy system is a physiological process that describes how the body converts energy from food into ATP to fuel various activities.
The body's three energy systems are:
The phosphocreatine and anaerobic systems primarily drive weight lifting during your setsBut the aerobic system does most of the work between your sets while your body recovers.
Therefore, there is a well-founded theoretical argument that improving your aerobic system would improve your weight lifting performance and the quality of your workout, which could lead to greater muscle and strength gains over time. Could be.
At the very least, there is little reason not to forego cardio exercise because of the many health benefits and the fact that moderate amounts of low-impact activities don't affect weight lifting performance.
If you want to experiment with this idea, here is a good place to start:
Perform two to three low-intensity cardio workouts a week for approximately 30 minutes. Use low-impact cardio methods such as walking, cycling or swimming.
Do one or two HIIT cardio workouts a week with no more than 25 to 30 minutes each. If you are bulky, you cannot do HIIT cardio either. If you cut, you can also do two HIIT workouts. However, it is best not to do more than three.
And, of course, make sure that you follow a well-designed strength training plan, e.g. B. Bigger Leaner Stronger, Thinner Leaner Stronger or Beyond Bigger Leaner Stronger.
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