Did you know that you have 3 different energy systems? I bet you also didn’t realize that each system must be trained in a certain way or you could actually be doing more harm than good when training.
That’s because each system needs a specific stimulus if you want to improve it. For example, doing a max clean isn’t dangerous if you have the necessary strength, technique, and do it when you are well-rested, on the other hand, a max clean done repeatedly under fatigue is a recipe for disaster.
That’s because the energy system needed for a max clean needs a specific amount of time to recover before repeating, and if you go too soon you will be using a different energy system than the one you need to make the lift, resulting in failure or worse injury.
I will try not to get all scientific, but for reference, you have 3 systems that produce energy.
1. From 0 to 10 secs of max-effort exercise you use the phosphocreatine system or PC.
Think of a 100-yard sprint, for about 10 secs you feel fast but after that, you have to slow down.
2. From 10 to 60 secs you have the glycolytic system.
This is a 400m run, it typically lasts a min before you switch out to the last system.
3. From 60 secs to a couple of hours you have the oxidative system.
This is the system used for walking and jogging, things you can do for a long time.
The thing that separates the first two from the third is the amount of oxygen you have in your blood. When moving fast and hard you have very little oxygen in your blood so you produce a lot of waste in the form of lactic acid, (wall balls anyone!) eventually, you must slow down to breathe (stay alive) switching you from glycolytic to oxidative. During a WOD you are using all three switching back and forth between them.
That first minute you are flying through the workout and suddenly you hit a wall!!! You have to drop the bar or stare up at the pull-up bar while your system attempts to recover.
The first two are part of your anaerobic system. Anaerobic means without oxygen.
The last one is called your aerobic system. Aerobic meaning with oxygen. The danger lies in overtraining your anaerobic system and under training your aerobic system.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been writing about training and more specifically training smart. We have all heard the maxim “No Pain No Gain” when describing improvement through training and I will admit sometimes you need a little pain for the gains, but this kind of blanket statement has lead to many more injuries than it has champions.
I used to live by this creed, training hard all the time, multiple times a day, and seeing great improvement until I didn’t. After one particularly grueling 3 day competition that saw me taking 2nd place out of 80 athletes in the RX division, I found myself with an irregular heartbeat, unable to think about training without anxiety, nd a bad case on insomnia.
This kind of training and competing took its toll and while I was seemingly healthy on the outside, I was far from that on the inside.
You see I was spending too much time training my anaerobic system and not giving it enough time to recover. Anaerobic training takes more time to recover from than aerobic training because it has a greater effect on your nervous system. That is why aerobic training like slow jogging or walking can be done every day as opposed to sprinting or max lifting because it takes less time to recover from.
What we should be shooting for is training each system with the proper frequency, time, and intensity. In my next email, I will teach you how to do just that, so keep your eyes peeled, and your mind open as we continue to reveal the training secrets that will keep you healthy for life.