Train for what you do. Different Conditioning for Different Goals.

It’s summer time, and with the warm weather comes all kinds of outdoor activities. You might like hiking, biking, swimming, or rock climbing. Maybe you’re still playing summer sports. Whatever activity you choose, here’s how to choose the right workouts to get in shape for THAT; because each of those hobbies puts different demands on your body. One workout does not fit all!!!!

Your body makes the power to move with “energy systems”, where chemical reactions create the energy needed for locomotion. Different energy systems use different chemical reactions. Some of those reactions are fast and powerful, while others are more slow burning. In training, we generally deal with three main energy systems.

My anaerobic-alactic system creates powerful bursts of energy for less than 10-15 seconds at a time. After about 15 seconds, your body runs out of the chemicals for this process, and your movements become less explosive. This is why you can’t dunk a basketball 100 times in a row; but you might be able to do it 3 to 5 times. After 20 to 30 seconds of rest and breathing, you’ll be recharged and ready to explode again.

When your alactic system is out of gas, your body taps into your anaerobic-lactic system for energy. This chemical reaction is still pretty powerful, and it runs out of energy in about 60-90 seconds. Have you ever tried to hang from a pull-up bar, and experienced your arms turning to concrete after about a minute? When it feels like you can barely move, you have exhausted your body’s anaerobic-lactic system. After 1 to 4 minutes of rest, you should be able to repeat another big effort here.

Your aerobic system is #3. This is the most efficient of these three energy systems. It kicks on when other energy systems have been exhausted, and can create power almost perpetually. A strong aerobic system will also help your body restore the chemicals needed to repeat explosive efforts with your more powerful anaerobic energy systems.

SO this is how you choose your workouts:

Think about your sport or hobby.

  1. How powerful are your bouts of effort? #1, #2, or #3? The more intense your efforts, the more anaerobic-alactic (#1) training you need. If your efforts are always easy or moderate, you need to focus on aerobic training (#3).
  2. How long do you get to rest between efforts? #1, #2, or #3? Mimic those rest periods in your workouts. This will keep you training the appropriate energy system.
  3. How long is your total event? If it’s longer than a couple of minutes, you’ll need to train your aerobic system, for sure. You might need to train the other energy systems for explosive efforts within that time… but you also need to train to last!

3 Simple workouts for Example

1- Run 10 sprints of 100 meters each. Rest for 30 seconds between each. This is training your anaerobic-alactic system (#1).

2- Do 5 sets of 50 air squats. Rest 2 minutes between each set. This is building anaerobic-lactic endurance (#2).

3- Run 3 miles. Don’t rest during your run. This is building aerobic endurance (#3). To do this, you have to train “below your anaerobic threshold”. That just means– if you work too hard, energy systems #1 or #2 will kick in, and your muscles will burn out before your aerobic system really gets to work hard. You should be running at about 60%. Make sure that you can always say 2-3 words to the person next to you, without being too out of breath.