All Training is Energy Systems Training
Our body produces energy through three energetic pathways…
Phosphocreatine System (Alactic)
Glycolytic System (Lactic)
Oxidative System (Aerobic)
Basically, your body uses a combination of these three ‘systems’ to create energy at different rates. At any moment in time, all three pathways are being used, unlike the classical view of bioenergetics teaches.
Oxygen, lactate and phosphocreatine are always present in the working muscle, just in varying amounts based on metabolic demands.
Is a 20:00 piece with Double Unders, Toes-to-Bar and Ascending Squat Cleans (aka. 19.2) Phosphocreatine, Glycolytic or Oxidative? It’s likely an indistinguishable blend of all three.
The development of these pathways is known is what everyone refers to as Energy Systems Training (EST). This is an incredibly broad term, considering all training and movement is taking place in a blend of these systems.
Typically, coaches and athletes refer to EST as “engine work” although strength working sets and maximal contractions are certainly EST as well.
Literally, you can’t do anything without it being Energy Systems based. It’s just that we often label our movement as “EST” when we have conditioning as the primary intention.
A Zone-Based Approach to EST
The Energy System Zones we’ve created is simply a model for organizing thoughts and intentions surrounding training. It’s more science than art. The art is where these zones converge with a coach’s unique programming style and are delivered to an athlete.
The Volume – Intensity Relationship
When programming using the heart rate zones, it’s important to keep in mind that volume and intensity should seesaw: as one goes up the other needs to go down.
Therefore, if you are prescribing work in Z2 or Z3, you need more time than if you are in Z4 or Z5.
How are the zones used?
The EST Zones are mainly used by the person programming to organize a training template. For example…
Then the coach uses the template as a skeleton to program the sessions, staying within those parameters.
For example, Monday’s Z3-Z4 AirBike Intervals might be…
AirBike starting @ 100 watts
-Every 30s: Climb 50 Watts, until you reach Zone 4 (80% MHR)
*Rest until 8 out of 10 recovery
AirBike (4 Sets x 25.25.25) Rest 0:20, Rest 3:00
*hold consistent wattage across all clusters and sets
*allow heart rate & RPE to wave each cluster
*record all ending heart rate for each set (goal 85-90% MHR)
This system allows for some freedoms (variance) while programming week-to-week, while ensuring training is still structured and targeting the desired system.
Got a question about our Energy System Training Zones? Email me here.