Energy Systems

 In Stuff We Say

energy_systems2You have probably heard WODs refered to as Met-Cons-  short for metabolic conditioning.  As part of the constantly varied part of the CrossFit prescription, we want our workouts to help each of our cellular metabolic processes perform more efficiently.  These processes are the systems responsible for providing the body with energy.  Increasing the capacity of each of the three metabolic systems will increase performance and health.

The three systems, phosphogen, glycolitic, and oxidative can be categorized as either aerobic or anaerobic.  Aerobic simply means that the pathway only produces energy in the presence of oxygen and anaerobic can provide energy without oxygen.  Generally, athletes use a combination of all three pathways during training.

The phosphogen pathway is the metabolic pathway that provides energy for very short, extremely intense exercises without oxygen.  A 1RM deadlift uses the phosphogen pathway as does a 50 meter sprint.  This pathway encompasses activities that take anywhere from 10- 30 seconds.

The glycolitic pathway provides energy anaerobically during activities taking 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  This is the pathway most used by 400-800m sprinters. The oxidative pathway provides energy aerobically for activities taking longer than 2 minutes.

Both aerobic and anaerobic pathways can increase cardiovascular function and burn fat.  Anaerobic pathways are superior at increasing muscle mass, power, speed and strength.  In addition, training the anaerobic pathways through interval training can increase performance int he aerobic pathways.

Following is a chart that gives and idea of how aerobic and anaerobic systems contribute to different durations of exercise:

Energy Contributions of the Aerobic and Anaerobic Energy Systems to Track Running Events
Males Females
Event Aerobic Energy Contribution Anaerobic Energy Contribution Aerobic Energy Contribution Anaerobic Energy Contribution
100 m 21% 79% 25% 75%
200 m 28% 72% 33% 67%
400 m 41% 59% 45% 55%
800 m 60% 40% 70% 30%
1500 m 77% 23% 86% 14%
3000 m 86% 14% 94% 6%
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