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Friday, January 15, 2016

Understanding the Metabolic Energy Pathways in Fitness and Sports

We have three main metabolic energy pathways that we use during the conduct of any physical activities. These activities include daily life activities, fitness training and sports. Basically, if you are doing anything, you are using one or more of the three energy pathways. Many people do not realize this, so I thought I would break it down to make it easier to understand. 

An example of a sport athlete that utilizes each of the three major energy pathways would be a football player. The football player, as well as many other athletes in different sports, frequently has to rapidly change energy systems used throughout the conduct of a sporting event. 

A football player may have to exert explosive, short duration power, while blocking an opposing player. This would be using the immediate energy system. Then the football player may have to sprint very fast, for a short distance, to block an additional, opposing player or to intercept the ball. This would be using the nonoxidative energy system. Finally, the football player may have to run for an extended distance, either in a straight line, or in a multi directional pattern. The football player may have to execute tasks such as running the ball to the end zone, intercept the ball or another opposing player, or to protect the team mate who has the ball. This would be using the oxidative energy system.

The body uses the immediate energy system, utilizing ATP/CP, for 3 seconds or less. For activities lasting 3-60 seconds, the body utilizes the nonoxidative energy system, which relies upon the anaerobic breakdown of glucose and glycogen into lactic acid to provide energy. For physical activities lasting more than 2 minutes, the body uses the oxidative energy system. This aerobic system utilizes oxygen to assist with the breakdown of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, in order to generate sufficient quantities of ATP, to be used as fuel in the mitochondria.

Understanding the three energy pathways will allow you to train more effectively for whatever physical tasks that you are working on. Hopefully, this made sense to you and gives you a better understanding the the energy pathways. If you like this type of information, please like, comment and share. I'll have more for you soon.

Fahey, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning, 3rd Ed. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association, 2013. Print.

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired,
MS, TFW Level 2 Coach
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