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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Metabolic energy pathways provide the energy for your workouts

The human body utilizes three metabolic energy systems to replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides energy for all movements, exercises, and muscular activity. These energy systems include the phosphagen system, the glycolysis system, and the oxidative system. The phosphagen system, and the glycolysis system are anaerobic, and do not require oxygen. The glycolysis system is subdivided into two sub systems, which are fast glycolysis and slow glycolysis. The oxidative system is aerobic and requires oxygen. The three macronutrients, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, are the main food sources for energy. Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that can be utilized for energy, without oxygen. All physical movements and exercises require the use of one or more of the three energy systems. The type and duration of the movement, or exercise determines which energy system will be utilized (Coburn & Malek, 2012).

For short duration, high intensity, explosive, power movements, the phosphagen system is utilized. The phosphagen system is used for about the first ten seconds of activity. Examples of activities that rely on the phosphagen system include short sprints, plyometric actions such as box jumps, and powerful actions such as an Olympic lift. Even if the physical activity lasts longer than ten seconds, the phosphagen system acts first. ATP and creatine phosphate are the primary elements used by the phosphagen system. The enzymes myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) and creatine kinase play a role in the breakdown, and regeneration of ATP. The ATP is broken down to release its energy. Myosin ATPase facilitates the breakdown of the ATP into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate. This catabolic action releases the energy from the ATP so that it can be utilized by the body. Once this occurs, the ATP must be regenerated. The adenosine diphosphate (ADP) levels rise, which activates the creatine kinase. The creatine kinase breaks down the creatine phosphate, which provides a phosphate group to combine with the ADP. This anabolic sequence produces ATP. This cycle repeats rapidly, and provides a high rate of energy, for a very short duration (Karp, 2009).

As physical exertion moves beyond the first ten seconds, the glycolysis system activates. Glycolysis breaks down carbohydrates from blood glucose, and stored glycogen to form ATP. The glycolysis system provides energy for high intensity activity, which lasts up to two minutes. For intense activities lasting for about thirty seconds, fast glycolysis is used. With fast glycolysis, pyruvate is converted to lactate, to produce ATP. The lactate can be then sent to the liver to be converted back into glucose through the Cori cycle. As the activity goes beyond thirty seconds, slow glycolysis begins to take over. With slow glycolysis, the pyruvate is sent to the mitochondria, through the Krebs cycle, to produce more ATP. This occurs from approximately thirty seconds to two minutes of intense exercise. The intensity of the activity or exercise will decline as the sequence moves through the phosphagen system, to fast glycolysis, and on to slow glycolysis. Examples of activities that could utilize the glycolysis system include a four hundred yard run, a high repetition set of a barbell exercise, or a full court press in basketball (Kelso, 2017).

At approximately the two minute mark and beyond, the oxidative system takes over from the slow glycolysis system. This is where the activity switches from anaerobic to aerobic, and oxygen is required. The oxidative system utilizes both carbohydrates and fats to fuel ATP production. Protein is not usually metabolized as fuel, unless the activity lasts for over ninety minutes. With the oxidative system, ATP production can occur through the Krebs cycle, electron transport chain, and beta oxidation. In addition to being used to produce ATP for longer, slower activities, the oxidative system also works while at rest. While at rest, fats are predominantly used as fuel. Once activity begins, it switches to carbohydrates. Once glucose levels start to become depleted, the system reverts back to fats. As the glycolysis system fades and the oxidative system takes over, the pyruvate is sent to the mitochondria, and converted into acetylCoA. The acetylCoA is then sent through the Krebs cycle for more ATP production. As glucose levels decline, fats are metabolized through the electron transport chain, and beta oxidation process, to be converted to acetylCoA. The acetylCoA then enters the Krebs cycle to produce more ATP. If the activity is very long in duration, protein can assist in energy production through gluconeogenesis and the Krebs cycle. The protein is broken down into its amino acids, which are then either converted to glucose or acetylCoA. Protein breakdown is usually minimal, as glucose and fats are normally present in sufficient quantities. for most activities. Examples of activities utilizing the oxidative system include rest, medium to long distance runs, triathlons, and manual labor during a work day (Pegg, 2013).


Coburn, J.W., & Malek, M.H. (2012). NSCA’s essentials of personal training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Karp, J. (2009). The three metabolic energy systems. Idea Fit. Retrieved from

Kelso, T. (2017). Understanding energy systems. Breaking Muscle. Retrieved from

Pegg, A. (2013). What is the oxidative energy system? Steady Strength. Retrieved from

Eric Dempsey
MS, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The sliding filament theory and muscular contraction

Muscular contraction begins with the nervous system sending a stimulus to the muscle fibers. This stimulus occurs at the neuromuscular junction. There is one neuromuscular junction for each muscle fiber. The neuromuscular junction contains structures that include the axon terminal of the neuron, the motor endplate, and the synaptic cleft, or neuromuscular cleft. From this point, the actions of the sliding filament theory begin. The actin and myosin filaments slide past each other, causing the muscle to shorten or lengthen. The filaments do not change in length during this action. Excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), is released at the neuromuscular junction, after an action potential passes along the length of a neuron. ACh is released into the synaptic cleft between the axon terminal of the neuron and the muscle fiber. This occurs in direct response to the action potential (Coburn & Malek, 2012).

From that point, the Ach binds with ACh receptors, on the motor endplate of the muscle fiber. This occurs after the Ach moves across the synaptic cleft. This causes another action potential to be created. This new action potential moves along the sarcolemma of the muscle fiber. T-tubules are utilized by this action potential to travel to the interior of the muscle fiber. This movement causes the release of stored calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. The calcium is released into the sarcoplasm. Once in the sarcoplasm, the calcium moves to the troponin molecules. The calcium then binds with the troponin molecules. These the troponin molecules are located along the length of the actin filaments. The shape of the troponin changes after the calcium binds to it. Tropomyosin is attached to the troponin. This change in shape causes the tropomyosin to expose the binding sites on actin, to the myosin head (Krans, 2010).

The exposed binding sites on the actin are able to attach to the myosin, forming a cross bridge. This myosin head of attachment pulls the actin filament toward the center of the sarcomere. The effort of the myosin pulling on the actin depletes the energy of the myosin. The depleted myosin must then detach from the cross bridge and reenergize itself. This requires a new adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule to be bound to the myosin. Once the ATP molecule is bound to the myosin, it can then detach and energize itself. The energizing of the myosin comes from the enzyme myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase). The ATPase splits the ATP molecule. This energizes the myosin and allows for the cross bridge sequence to occur again. This sequence can continue as long as the muscle fiber is being stimulated to contract, by its motor neuron. The myosin pulling the actin toward the center of the sarcomere shortens the muscle. This process is the muscle contracting. The success or failure of this sequence is determined the external forces pulling against the cross bridge (Szent-Györgyi, 2004).

There are three basic types of contractions that can occur when the sliding filament theory is activated. Muscle contractions are usually pulling against an external force such as a barbell. When the myosin is pulling the actin through the cross bridge, the resistance determines the outcome. The contraction generates more force than the resistance, causing a concentric contraction. The external force is greater than the contraction force, causing a lengthening of the muscle. This is an eccentric contraction. The contraction force is equal to the resistance force, which stalls movement. This is an isometric contraction. The muscle will always attempt to shorten as the myosin pulls on the actin. The resistance level will cause one of the three types of contractions to occur. ATP is the primary fuel source for this sequence (Lefkowith, 2014).


Coburn, J.W., & Malek, M.H. (2012). NSCA’s essentials of personal training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Krans, J. (2010). The sliding filament theory of muscle contraction. Nature Education. Retrieved from

Lefkowith, C. (2014). What does it all mean: Concentric, eccentric and isometric. Redefining Strength. Retrieved from

Szent-Györgyi, A. (2004). The early history of the biochemistry of muscle contraction. The Journal of General Physiology. Retrieved from

Eric Dempsey
MS, ISSA Master Trainer

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Health & Fitness Radio Tuesday: Meal Planning, Vegetable Oil and More

Health and Fitness Radio Tuesday!

This episode's topics:

Meal planning, home gyms, vegetable oil, and listening to your body.

Also talked about advances in cardiac preventative care.

Eric Dempsey
MS, ISSA Master Trainer

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dr Lenny's Fitness Story Part 1 and 2

In these two videos, Dr. Lenny tells of his training history with me and how it all began.

He also discusses his struggles with his weight, and lifestyle, and the results of his training.

He is one of the few fitness boot camp and personal training clients, that has trained with me in all of my different locations, and now live, online.

Listen to his story. to hear how he overcame adversity through fitness.

If you think that my online training program would be beneficial for you, message me on my Facebook business page at Dempsey's Resolution Fitness.

Eric Dempsey
MS, ISSA Master Trainer
Dempseys Resolution Fitness

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Athletes with diabetes

Athletes with diabetes should consult with their physician prior to beginning any exercise and nutrition program. Blood glucose levels should documented by the physician to establish a normal range for the individual. Certain exercises of a strenuous nature may be contraindicated for athletes with diabetes. Blood glucose levels should be tracked and documented by the athlete thirty minutes before exercise, and then again one hour after exercise. This self-monitored tracking of blood glucose levels helps to assist the athlete in managing nutrition and insulin requirements. Exercise is an important component in managing diabetes. A well planned exercise program can help to maintain desired body composition levels, decrease insulin requirements, increase insulin sensitivity, lower the risk of diabetic nephropathy, and reduce the risk of hypertensive and cardiovascular diseases (Anderson & Parr, 2013). 
Diabetic athletes are more challenging to manage than non-athletes. The demands of sport and performance enhancement training can have more pronounced effects on blood glucose levels. Frequent monitoring of an athlete’s blood glucose levels before, during, and after exercise is recommended. Athletes should have routine medical examinations and physicians clearance to exercise. A physician should supervise the diabetic athlete’s exercise and nutrition program. Diabetic identification bracelets or necklaces should be worn by diabetic athletes during all exercise and sporting activities. Athletes with diabetes should remain hydrated during the conduct of physical events. Carbohydrate intake and insulin dosage should be managed, to allow peak performance during exercise and sporting activities. Athletes should always have readily available sources of fast acting carbohydrates during all physical events. Avoiding exercise in the evenings, and at peak insulin action times is recommended, to avoid hypoglycemia (Hornsby & Chetlin, 2005).

Athletes normally have to perform a variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercises to meet the demands of their sport. Diabetic athletes have to be aware of the threats from hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and ketoacidosis. Aerobic exercise is primarily recommended for those with diabetes. Walking, swimming, bicycling, and rowing are the recommended aerobic training methods. Diabetic athletes who have lost their protective neural sensation should avoid walking on a treadmill, step exercises, jogging, and walking for long period of time. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise is recommended for adults on most days. Teens, and youth athletes with diabetes, should strive for thirty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise on most days. Resistance based, strength training is allowed for athletes who do not show signs of retinopathy and nephropathy (Colburg, 2008).

Aerobic exercise is primarily recommended for athletes with diabetes. Aerobic exercise, done at moderate intensity, for longer duration, lowers blood glucose levels. It is easier to plan for the required insulin dosage, during and after exercise, as needed. Carbohydrate intake prior to aerobic exercise is frequently required. Anaerobic exercise is required for most athletes for performance enhancement. Explosive, short duration, high intensity, bouts of power and strength during exercises such as sprints, powerlifting, Olympic weight lifting, and related weight bearing activities, do not drop blood glucose levels in the same manner as aerobic exercise. Due to the increase in adrenaline and noradrenalin, which is more common with anaerobic exercise, hyperglycemia may occur during and immediately after the training. Hypoglycemia may follow hours after an intense exercise session. Carbohydrate intake may not be required prior to anaerobic training. Both aerobic and anaerobic training have numerous benefits for the diabetic athlete. Proper management of blood glucose and insulin levels will allow the diabetic athlete to perform both types of training (Stinogel, 2010).

Olympic and professional athletes compete at much higher intensity levels than high school and college athletes. The physical requirements of the sports and training are very demanding with professional and Olympic athletes. These professional and Olympic athletes, who have diabetes, face challenges that are similar to, but greater than the challenges faced by high school and college athletes. The advances in medical treatment options, for athletes with diabetes, have come a long way. Many professional and Olympic athletes, with diabetes, have been able to manage their condition and successfully compete at the highest levels. Proper management techniques for diabetes have been successfully implemented into these athlete’s training and nutrition programs. Diabetes is no longer a show stopper for high level athletes, as it was in the past. While the demands and challenges are greater for professional and Olympic athletes, more efficient treatment methods and management techniques have emerged. These high level athletes usually have a much more robust support network than younger athletes (Evans, 2015).

Team physicians, nutritionists, athletic trainers, coaches, and other support staff ensure that elite level athletes receive the proper care that they require. Larger team operating budgets, and high levels of individual income, help provide the funding for advanced diabetic management. Professional and Olympic athletes have also demonstrated the self-discipline and commitment, which allows them to overcome obstacles presented by diabetes. These athletes have trained for many years and are more in tune with their body’s needs. Nutrition and hydration methods, in concert with any required medications, have been honed into a coordinated program, which supports the training and competition demands. Elite level athletes, with diabetes, also usually have a very positive and strong mental outlook. This allows them to view their condition as something very manageable, as opposed to a roadblock that prevents success (Evans, 2015).


Evans, Z. (2015). Great athletes with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Daily. Retrieved from

Anderson, M.K., & Parr, G.P. (2013). Foundations of athletic training: prevention, assessment, and management (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Colburg, S. (2008). Working with diabetic athletes part 1. Diabetes in Control. Retrieved from

Hornsby, W., & Chetlin, R. (2005). Management of competitive athletes with diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum. Retrieved from

Stinogel, B. (2010). Nutrition for athletes exercising and competing with type 1 diabetes. University of Minnesota Duluth. Retrieved from

Eric Dempsey
MS, ISSA Master Trainer

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Carb Loading for Performance

Carbohydrate loading is a popular method of maximizing liver and muscle glycogen levels prior to an athletic, or endurance event. Endurance athletes such as marathon runners have made a tradition of a high carbohydrate dinner feast, prior to a big event. There are numerous methods and protocols for carbohydrate loading. Some methods are safer and more effective than others. There are ample research documents available, which support carbohydrate loading prior to endurance events. Regardless of the method or protocol used, carbohydrate loading is an effective way to maximize glycogen levels, in order to optimize performance (Benardot, 2012).

An athlete requires the proper amount of fuel to perform at peak levels. Many athletes have either won or lost races, based upon their nutrition and training plans, leading up to a major competitive event. Glycogen depletion in the middle of an athletic event can be catastrophic for the athlete. Running out of fuel during an event will not only cripple performance, but may lead to medical and health issues. The training program and nutrition plan must work together to provide maximal performance during the competitive event. It is important for an athlete to understand the proper balance between training and nutrition to optimize performance. Many athletes have mistakenly prioritized training over nutrition. These athletes paid for this mistake, during their event, with substandard performance. Training and nutrition education is very beneficial for athletes who desire winning performance. The old saying that “you cannot out train your nutrition plan” is very relevant in this situation (Wax, 2015).

Muscle and liver glycogen stores provide the main fuel source during athletic events. Ensuring that an athlete’s glycogen levels are at maximal capacity, prior to an event, is a high priority task. The amount of glycogen that can be stored by the muscles and liver is limited. For optimal performance, these fuel stores must be at maximal capacity. Arduous training quickly depletes glycogen stores. During the training program, prior to a competitive event, glycogen stores are depleted on a daily basis. The refueling process must be adequate to ensure that competitive preparations can take place. Daily nutrition must be dialed in to ensure that sufficient glycogen is available. Protein cannot be forgotten during this period as muscle must be maintained and built upon. Without adequate glycogen and protein, the body will break down lean body mass, in order to replenish glycogen stores. Muscle sparing is important to maintain performance. As the competition date moves closer, training and nutrition must be adjusted as part of the event preparation. An over trained and under fueled athlete has little chance of prevailing against an athlete who did it right (Morgan, 2015).

There are numerous ways to carb load before an endurance event. Athletes must determine which method is right for them. Carbohydrate loading is a systematic and science based process. Different methods use different timelines for optimal glycogen replacement. There is a short duration, rapid loading method which has more tradition than effectiveness. In the rapid loading method, athletes deplete their glycogen levels through training. Then, usually in a twenty four hour process, athletes consume large quantities of carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores. This is best known from the traditional feast before an event. Many marathon participants will gather in their local eatery, the night before a big race. A popular tradition utilizes an Italian style restaurant known for great pasta dishes. Spaghetti and other pasta dishes are consumed in great quantities by athletes. While this does provide the athlete with plenty of glycogen stores, it is not the most effective method, according to research. Different tapering protocols have been developed. These tapering protocols decrease training times as carbohydrate intake is increased. Long tapering protocols can range from three weeks to one week prior to an event. Everyone responds differently to various training and nutrition plans. The athlete has to determine, many times through trial and error, which method works best for them (Brown, 2015).

One of the long tapering protocols that has been shown to work well is the seven day taper. In this method, the last intense training session is completed seven days before the competition. After that, the training intensity gradually tapers off, while carbohydrate intake is maintained. One day before the event, the athlete does a very low intensity workout, while focusing on rest and relaxation. Low fiber, high starch carbohydrates are consumed to ensure that glycogen levels are at peak capacity. On competition day, carbohydrate intake and hydration levels are maintained. It is important for the athlete to allow sufficient time for digestion before the event. The time of the event dictates when the athlete should finish with eating and drinking. By following this method, the athlete should be well rested, with glycogen stores and hydration at optimal capacity. This tapering protocol is refined by the athlete over time. With continued practice, the carb loading protocol can tailored to the individual to provide maximal benefit (McDowell, 2011).

Regardless of the method or protocol used, carbohydrate loading is an effective nutrition strategy for athletes. Carbohydrate loading maximizes glycogen stores so that the athlete will perform at optimal levels during the competitive event. Research has shown that longer tapering protocols are more effective and safer than rapid methods. The athlete determines which protocol is best suited for their needs. Constant refinement of the selected protocol will maximize the effectiveness of carbohydrate loading. Having adequate fuel stores during endurance events assists with performing at peak levels. This also prevents “hitting the wall”, where glycogen levels are depleted too early. Maintaining sufficient glycogen levels throughout the train up period also prevents depletion, and allows for maximal uptake prior to the event. Muscle sparing is important as well. Optimal performance can be achieved by correctly applying carbohydrate loading methods (Munson, 2016).


Benardot, D. (2012). Advanced sports nutrition (2nd ed). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Brown, E. (2015). Three ways to effectively carb loading before a race. Runners Connect. Retrieved from

McDowell, D. (2011). The right way to carbo-load before a race. Runner’s World. Retrieved from

Morgan, R. (2015). The importance of good nutrition for athletes. Live Strong. Retrieved from

Munson, T. (2016). Tapering & carb-loading. Science in Sport. Retrieved from

Wax, E. (2015). Nutrition and athletic performance. Medline Plus. Retrieved from

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired
MS, ISSA Master Trainer

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Health and Fitness Radio Tuesday: PH Levels and Inflammation

In this episode, we discuss weightloss scams, PH levels and chronic inflammation.

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired
MS, ISSA Master Trainer
Dempseys Resolution Fitness

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Health and Fitness Radio Tuesday: Readiness for change

Todays radio broadcast:
health and fitness topics covering the readiness for change, variety in your meal plans and proper breathing technique.

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired
MS, ISSA Master Trainer
Dempseys Resolution Fitness

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nutrition: Grocery shopping and macronutrients

I did a quick grocery store run today.

Many people ask me frequently about meal plans, grocery lists, what foods to get and other related questions.

So I thought I would show you what I actually got today.

This is just a partial list of stuff that I got to get me through the next few days.

It is all about protein, fats and carbs.

There are many different meal combos that you can make with a variety of macronutrients.

This just gives you an idea of what I normally get and the different meals that are possible.

Hope it helps. Let me know what you think.

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired
MS, Specialist in Fitness Nutrition
Dempseys Resolution Fitness

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Plant Based Protein: Are you getting enough?

In this video, I discuss the realities of plant based proteins.

You need a lot more than you think!

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army Retired
Masters Degree in Exercise Science
ISSA Master Trainer