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Energy System Conditioning - The Sum of the Parts MAKES the Whole.

Ok folks, now its time to finally start talking about “Conditioning” and training specific energy systems. If you haven’t read Dynamic Correspondence from last month please do so to get a foundational level of understanding for this month.

When talking about Conditioning we must know that the body has two Gross Energy Systems; Anaerobic and Aerobic. Both of these energy systems have different components that we will discuss in detail but we have to know that both Aerobic and Anaerobic Energy Systems have inherent qualities of both Power and Endurance; it’s the differences in these abilities that separates the two systems. In the interest of brevity and detailed content, we will discuss the Anaerobic Energy System this month and hit Aerobic in a separate write up next month.

What is Anaerobic? Anaerobic means ‘not in the presence of oxygen.’ Whereas the Aerobic system uses oxygen to break down sugars into fuel and has the ability to provide very long term energy, the Anaerobic system primarily uses stored creatine and glycogen within the muscles that is available instantly but for short durations.

The Anaerobic system can be broken down into 3 individual energy systems; ATP-PC, Alactic and Lactic and each has its own qualities that make it unique.

ATP-Phospho Creatine (PC)

The PC energy system is the high power output, little to no endurance system in the body. The PC system provides energy for MAX Output activities and can supply energy to the body for up to ~3 seconds, that’s it, 3 seconds. After this the body must begin to transfer the desired energy needs to other energy systems in order to restore the stored PC in the muscles and this leads to a corresponding decrease in power. Think about how high you could jump in one maximal effort jump vs how high your last jump would be if you jumped 50 times in a row.

Training the PC System - This is Where the Weight Room Makes its Mark

Weight/Effort should be high: 6 reps or less per set

Rest should be maximal: 2-5mins b/w sets

Exercises should involve total body movements such as Squats, Cleans, Deadlift, Med Ball Throws, Jumps or Sprints.


While the ATP-PC system is a part of the Alactic system, there is a discernible difference between the PC abilities of the body which top out around 3 seconds and use primarily creatine/phosphocreatine as its energy source and the Alactic system which uses glycogen stored in the muscles as well as creatine and can supply energy to the body for up to 10-12 seconds. The Alactic system provides energy for MAX Output activities up to roughly 10 seconds and the endurance aspect can be trained up to a certain point and potentially push the Alactic abilities up to ~12 seconds. After the 10-12sec point the body begins to accumulate Lactic Acid and Fatigue quickly sets in.

Training the Alactic System for Capacity

Work Intervals: 10-15sec

Rest Intervals: 45-90sec

Rest B/W Exercises: 8-10mins

Exercises Should be total body and MAX Output in nature the same as ATP-PC Training

We need MAX Output

So we also need MAX Recovery


The Lactic System is the high power/moderate endurance system in the body and is capable of providing energy for roughly 1 minute; variations are fairly wide depending on genetics and an individual’s training level but certainly top out by ~90sec in very elite athletes like 400/800m sprinters. Contrary to what most of you have heard before, Lactic Acid does not cause the burning in your muscles and most certainly does not cause muscle soreness. Lactate as derived from Lactic Acid is actually processed by the Liver in the Cori Cycle and, wait for it, TURNED INTO ENERGY!

Training the Lactic System

For Power:

Work Interval: 20-40 sec

Rest: 1-3mins

Weight/Resistance: Moderate to Heavy

For Capacity:

Work Interval: 60-120sec

Rest Interval: 60-120sec

Weight/Resistance: Maximal, high fatigue must be achieved

Rest between exercises: Maximal

Ok, now that we have touched on the basics we need to know why this is important and I’m going to pick on the favorite past time of Iowans to do it, Wrestling. Wrestling is THE combative sport and is famous for its brutality and ridiculously hard training methods, however, it is also known for not being trained very smartly but rather being trained harder. A classic example is how regardless of the circuit type or the particular drill, generally very little rest is incorporated, which means that at a certain point most coaches and wrestlers are actually training the Aerobic System instead of the high power abilities of the Anaerobic System because they are not allowing recovery into certain drills.

This means that for certain training days or certain drills, we must incorporate maximal effort and maximal rest drills into our combative training such as exercises in the weight room or lifts and throws with your partner.

Stay Tuned for the Aerobic System and how to put it all together into one BADASS and SCIENTIFICALLY legitimate training template, train SMARTER to let you fight HARDER!

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