Exercise Physiology 101

Exercise Physiology 101

This is the subject that got me interested in all of these things–and by interested I mean OBSESSED! In college, took a simplified exercise physiology class for P.E. minors, and it was SO AWESOME! It blew my mind.

My dad had subscribed to Runner’s World since I was 13 years old and I had considered myself an intense runner for a while, but when I took this class I realized I knew nothing. These were true principles, and if I studied these things, not only could I help myself become a better runner, but I could help other people as well.

When you do any kind of intense sport there are 3 systems that your body employs to make things happen. You’ve probably heard of them:

1. Speed/Explosive (ATP Phosphocreatine System) = 10-15 seconds of energy output.

2. Anaerobic System = up to 90 seconds of energy output.

3. Aerobic System = hours of energy output, depending on your training

If you could use your speed/explosive system for an infinite amount of time, you would be a rich human because you would win every single distance race and break every distance world record.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Each of these systems has a certain amount of time it lasts before you have to rest and recover the system. They each have a half-life as well, meaning they each have an amount of time it takes to recover the system before you can use it again and go 100%.

“…the training secret: …the stronger the aerobic system, the faster you recover the other two systems…”

The speed/explosive system lasts the least amount of time, then the anaerobic, then the aerobic. The more you train each system, the longer that system will last–but there is so much more to it! Unless you’re running 50-100 mile ultra-marathons, you’re going to have train and develop all 3 systems. Here’s the training secret: the aerobic system is more important than most people think, especially for sports that primarily employ the speed-explosive system, because the stronger the aerobic system, the faster you recover the other two systems after you have used them. You decrease the half-life or recovery time of the first two systems when you make your aerobic system stronger. Or in other words, if normally it takes you 1 minute to recover after doing a hard sprint (for example in a race, or playing basketball, soccer, tennis etc.) then by strengthening and developing the aerobic system, over time, it might only take you 40 seconds to recover your speed/explosive system and throughout a race or game, you are able to repeat 100% effort bouts more times than before.

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