Training Implications of the Fast Glycolytic Energy System

Training the fast glycolytic energy system can be tricky, and not as straightforward as the phosphagen system discussed previously. As we know, the fast glycolytic system “takes over” after about 10 seconds of work. Depending on the intensity of the work, this system can continue to dominate for up to 90 seconds. The variables of volume, rest, frequency, and exercise type seem to have more room for manipulation compared to the other energy systems in my opinion. For example look at American football, the average play duration is about 4-6 seconds with the occasional break away play. The time between plays is roughly 40 seconds, so the means the work to rest ratio 1 : 6-10. The sport is very anaerobic in nature and the body never reaches a steady state of work. Shifting gears to a soccer athlete, they also require short bursts of highly intense work, but they also require the ability to sustain this work for longer durations with shorter rest periods. At certain points, they may even cross the threshold into the aerobic system, and their conditioning will vary greatly from the American football athlete.

Working in this anaerobic zone leads to the accumulation of lactate within the working muscle (latic conditioning). No, this isn’t what causes muscle soreness, but it does create an acidic environment in the local muscle, making continued contraction difficult. Lactate has many functions in exercise training, one of which is to aide in the production of energy to continue work, and another is to serve as a biomarker of training intensity. As training continues, the body will become more efficient at clearing blood lactate, and have an increased tolerance for higher blood lactate levels. Other adaptations that occur with training of the fast glycolytic energy system is muscle fiber type conversion, increased muscle glycogen storage, and improved levels of anaerobic energy substrates (such as CP).

Training this system is extremely taxing to the body, both mentally and physically. To prevent overtraining, and chronic fatigue, one must consider the rest time and frequency to get the best out of the individual. To put it simply, the greater the intensity and the longer the duration, the more rest that is required before performing another session. The consequences of overtraining can be detrimental not only to sport performance and strength gains, but overall health as well. The immune system is weakened, loss of sleep, and increased stress levels are all signs of overtraining, and they will continue to compound the problem if rest is not allowed.

Recommended Parameters:

Work to Rest- 1 : 3-10 (10 sec < work time < 90 sec )

Frequency- 2-5 days/wk

Rest between sessions- 48-72 hrs

Intensity- 80-100% Heat rate max

**Training goals will dictate the overall focus of conditioning**

In my opinion, the benefits of improving the capabilities of the fast glycolytic energy system can be tremendous in relation to repeated force and power output, and increased anaerobic endurance. For the average Joe, throwing in some interval runs or circuits can be a great way to improve these qualities as well, while improving overall health. In the world of sport, this type of training should be reserved for those who need it. The needs of an American football player are vastly different than those of a baseball player. The football player requires the ability to repeat maximal effort on short rest working within the lactic zone, while the baseball player has a longer rest period and does not require the same anaerobic capabilities because they primarily work in the alactic zone→ (discussed in the previous post :) )

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions, please reach out to us!

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