I am back to the article life after a very lengthy eight month hiatus. Well, I can't really call it a hiatus exactly as since last November all of my content has been in the weekly form of my podcast, Muscles and Management (shameless plug). Anyway, I digress. On to this new article on an important topic I am excited to write about. Oh, and one last thing. If you would like to see more articles going forward just let me know!
We hear it all the time. Trainers, athletes and coaches talk about how they would love to increase stamina, get “in-shape,” with cardiovascular endurance and be able to limit fatigue while on the field of play. Yes, there is a specific and direct way to improve the aerobic capacity system, but many fail to realize that general strength and speed training alone can aid in building better athletes who are less likely or take longer to become fatigued. Essentially, if we increase our max speed, strength and power (maximum output), then the sub-maximal levels we need in the field of play (operational output) are less of a percentage of peak output and are less taxing on our overall energy systems.
I recently had a general population client of mine complete an ironman competition. This was not his first go-around with an ironman, so he had prior experience. However, this was the first time he would be competing after several months of strength training. Upon completion of the event he could immediately tell a difference in his ability to get through the more strenuous portions of the course in terms of muscular fatigue, but also noticed an overall easier time moving through the entirety of the event. Essentially, strength and speed training positively influenced an event that is very aerobic and lactic power based in nature, but why? We must look further and take a better look at energy systems as a whole.
A Brief Look at Energy Systems
As I alluded to, there are multiple energy systems at play that influence the relationship between strength and speed training and things that are more aerobic or lactic power based in nature. Let’s take a look at a simple explanation of some of the energy systems at work here.
Putting The Energy Systems Together
So you are probably thinking to yourself right now, “well this is great and all but what the hell does all this mean?” To tie up the lose ends here let us again look at maximum and operational output.
First and foremost, when we strength and speed train we are improving our overall strength and speed, aka our maximum output. So, if our maximum output is increased, the operational output (ex: coasting speed in a long distance run or activity of that nature) is a lesser percentage of our maximum output. So, performing our operational output has now become less taxing on our energy systems! Essentially, we have now given our body the ability to perform more activity through the anaerobic and aerobic systems because what used to be our “maximum,” output has now become operational and a speed in which we can coast at. Thus, we have limited potential of activity leaving the anaerobic or aerobic energy systems. Think about it: your old max-effort sprint no longer fully depletes your CP and ATP because it is no longer your max, and longer distance runs are less of a percentage of your max output and thus takes longer amounts of time to move from aerobic activity to lactic power activity.
So, what did we learn here? There is most definitely a relationship between your strength and speed training and your energy system effectiveness. By simply getting stronger or more explosive you are putting less demands on your anaerobic and aerobic systems when you perform activity as operational, or sub-maximal output. Think about this the next time a coach, trainer or athlete tells you they must perform endless mile runs to “get in shape.”
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.