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Train All Energy Pathways: Aerobic, Anaerobic and Anaerobic Lactate

Nov 26, 2007
Train the anaerobic, anaerobic lactate and aerobic energy pathways for superior conditioning performance... Not just one energy pathway for "specialized" conditioning.

To develop superior conditioning you must train the anaerobic, anaerobic lactate and aerobic energy pathways... not just one energy pathway at the expense of the others.

There are three energy pathways used to provide energy for activity... one aerobic and two anaerobic.

Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen... and any activity that is performed at a low to moderate intensity for more than 90 seconds, allowing oxygen to release energy through metabolism, is usually called an aerobic activity.

The benefits of aerobic activity are...

Increased Cardiovascular Function
Decrease in Body Fat

Well, that sounds pretty good, but the negatives of excessive aerobic training are...

Decreased Muscle Mass
Decreased Strength
Decreased Power
Decreased Speed
Decreased Anaerobic Capacity

Anaerobic means in the absence of oxygen... and any activity that is performed at a medium to high intensity for less than 2 minutes, where energy is derived without oxygen, is usually called an Anaerobic activity.

There are two anaerobic energy pathways...

The Anaerobic System (ATP-CP) is where energy is derived from the re-synthesis of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) from Creatine/Phosphate (CP) until the stores are depleted... about 5-7 seconds.

The Anaerobic Lactate System (Glycolytic) happens after the (CP) stores have been depleted where the body resorts to the breakdown of glucose for energy.

This results in the production of lactate and hydrogen ions... ultimately leading to fatigue.

The benefits of anaerobic activity are...

Increased Cardiovascular Function
Decrease in Body Fat
Increased Muscle Mass
Improved Strength
Improved Power
Improved Speed
Increased Aerobic Capacity

When I look at the differences between the benefits of Aerobic and Anaerobic Training... I often wonder why the vast majority of Commercial Fitness Programs advocate Aerobic training almost exclusively while completely ignore training the Anaerobic energy pathways.

After all, you will perform how you train!

Are the majority of activities that you perform in sport, work or life long, continuous aerobic activities... or short bursts of medium to high intensity anaerobic activity followed by rest?

I think that it is pretty clear... long, continuous aerobic activity will not prepare you for the majority of activities you perform, and can even decrease performance in certain physical abilities over time.

Short, intense Anaerobic training is the way to go to get the most positive benefits for performance improvement... but remember that it is not exclusive.

You will naturally flow between all three of these energy pathways.

This is very important, you need a solid aerobic base before you can benefit from the more intense anaerobic activities... so you should build up your aerobic base before attempting anaerobic activities.

I know what you are thinking... "I was told that aerobic training was the best way to lose fat."

Well, you will lose fat through aerobic training... but you will also lose hard earned muscle and physical abilities.

That is not something you want to do on your path to over-all fitness excellence.

After all, the reason you should want to reduce unneeded, unwanted fat in the first place is to improve performance... so why reduce fat at the cost of performance improvement?

You will also lose fat through anaerobic energy pathway training... but you will also gain useful muscle and improve physical abilities.

Furthermore, intense activity will keep the metabolism working hours after you stop the activity... and the useful muscle you gain will use resources from food for their maintenance instead of being converted into fat.

Now, that sounds more like it!
About the Author
Coach Lomax is a strength, conditioning and fitness coach dedicated to building better humans for sport, work and life. Learn more at Optimum Physical Training or take his FREE Tabata Calisthenics Workout Mini Course.
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