Training in energy systems is crucial for team sport athletes. Understanding the energy systems helps the strength and conditioning coach as well as the athletes to approach training properly. This topic is relevant to an aspiring strength and conditioning coach as it provides them with information about proper energy systems training. This paper explores the topic of energy systems training in detail.
Energy systems, also called bioenergetics systems, are processes through which energy is converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the form relied upon for muscular activity (Stone, & Kilding, 2009). There are three energy systems involved in conversion of energy to ATP.
The ATP-CP system is used for brief but high-intensity activities such as short sprints or single-effort jumps. It is termed the first responder as it is the system available for emergencies. Muscles burn stored ATP reserves immediately a high-intensity activity starts and the system provides energy for 6 to 8 seconds (Arkinstall, 2011). Once the job is done, the ATP is either broken down further for more energy or is recycled with Creatine phosphate (CP) to provide more energy. This energy system is useful for sprinters and weight lifters (Arkinstall, 2011).
Glycolytic Energy System
This system is also called short-term anaerobic energy system and it provides high power energy. It endures longer than the ATP-CP System and provides energy for up to 90 seconds (Arkinstall, 2011). The effort intensity is more than the ATP-CP system and produces large amounts of energy via chemical reactions intramuscularly (Stone, & Kilding, 2009). Training this energy system increases the ability of the body to produce high energy phosphates used in energy production. This extends the ability to produce energy and perform in high powered activities provided there is enough rest (Stone, & Kilding, 2009). This energy system is useful for goalkeepers, forward, and midfielders, as well as 200-800m runners.
Aerobic Energy System
Aerobic energy system uses oxygen in a chemical reaction to produce ATP. This system is the slowest but produces most of the cellular energy in the body. According to Stone and Kilding (2009), aerobic exercises are termed steady state exercises because there is a balance between the body’s demands for energy and the energy supply. The aerobic system provides fitness for any sport regardless of the energy system ideal for that sport or energy demands. For instance, a sprinter relies mostly on ATP-CP system but requires aerobic training for quicker recovery. Similarly, a football midfielder, who relies predominantly on glycolytic system, requires aerobic training to sustain the high output required in a match (Stone, & Kilding, 2009). Aerobic energy system is used in long races such as marathon.
Energy Needs of Team Sport Athletes
Athletes require a balanced diet to cover their daily energy demands. As a general rule, food for athletes should contain carbohydrates in high quantities and fats in low quantities (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998). Nutritional requirements can be divided into Pre-game nutrition, during training and competition, recovery, muscle glycogen, and intermittent high-intensity performance. Athletes should take meals high in carbohydrates before a heavy exercise, which results in greater capacity and endurance (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998). If unable to eat 3-4 hours before a game, an athlete should drink little amounts of sports drink during the exercise. Carbohydrates consumed should be low glycemic index (GI) to avoid high blood glucose and insulin but allow slow sustained release of glucose and therefore improve endurance (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998).
During exercise or competition, athletes should take carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions for the benefits this provides to performance. The intake of the well-formulated drink should be in small quantities such as 150ml at intervals of 20 minutes (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998). During recovery, which takes place immediately the exercise ends, it is important to enhance glycogen restoration through eating 50g of carbohydrates at the start of recovery and after 1 or 2 hours until the next meal. During a 24-hour recovery period, carbohydrate consumption should increase to 10g/kg body weight. If recovery is to last for 24 hours or less, intake of carbohydrates for the team-sport athletes should be prescribed. The recovery period intake should comprise high glycemic index carbohydrates. However, if recovery period is a few hours, refueling and rehydration should be achieved through consuming carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions at volumes that equal at least 150% of the loss induced by exercise in terms of body weight (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998).
Interscholastic Athletes Energy System Training
Interscholastic athletes are underserved in in proper energy system training for various reasons. First, the athletes may not be mature enough to follow strictly the training schedule for strength and endurance. Secondly, the respective schools may not provide the students with the proper nutrition for proper energy system training. Most schools do not have special nutrition programs for the athletes in line with nutrition prescription for energy needs of athletes (Seifried, & Tim, 2012). Some students may have less developed cognitive and psychological development necessary for maximum benefits from the strength and conditioning coach. In addition, many schools focus on winning championships rather than on performance and place the coach under the pressure to win (Seifried, & Tim, 2012). According to Sefried and Tim (2012), coaches concentrate on efforts to form a winning team such as cutting off players rather than training them for improved performance.
Nutrition and Energy System Training
Understanding proper nutrition is fundamental to succeeding in energy system training. As explained earlier, different stages in a workout call for different energy prescription. Performance capacity is enhanced by eating high energy carbohydrates 3 to 4 hours before exercise (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998). During long sessions, well-formulated sports drinks increases performance benefits. There is energy prescription at recovery to restore glycogen in muscles and refuel the body. The strength and conditioning coach should understand these energy needs to provide the best nutrition advice to the athletes (Williams, & Nicholas, 1998).
Relevance of the Topic to Professional goal
The topic of energy systems training is relevant to a person aspiring to become a strength and conditioning coach as it provides them with the required knowledge. The coach needs to understand which energy system to train depending on the type of sport engaged in (Stone, & Kilding, 2009). For instance, sports involving short high-intensity efforts rely on ATP-CP energy systems while long duration sports require aerobic energy system (Arkinstall, 2011). In addition, the coach needs to understand that training the aerobic system is important for fitness and quick recovery after exercise. A successful coach forms a highly performing team through proper training of the energy systems and understanding the energy needs of the team.
Health Concepts Related to the Energy System Training
Cardiovascular health is a major concern in energy systems training. Cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension hinder training and participation in athletics. However, team sport athletics help to enhance cardiovascular health through improved cardiovascular fitness (Franks, 1975). Cardiovascular diseases that can hinder energy systems training and athletics include hypertension or high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, and high cholesterol leading to arteriosclerosis. Physical activity improves cardiac performance and light exercise before and after a strenuous activity helps to enhance performance and recovery.
Another health concept in energy system training is the anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACLI). ACLI is the tearing or overstretching of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The injury occurs mostly in athletes in strenuous sports such as football, basketball, and soccer (Stojanovic, & Ostojic, 2012). An ACLI may require surgery for one to regain full control of the knee. Intervention depends on the severity of the injury and the level of activity. ACLI is often associated with damage to surrounding structures in the knee. ACLI is very common with athletes and is often a reason for mandatory rest until the athlete is healed to continue with sports.
- Arkinstall, M. (2011). Energy system interplay in team sports. Exercise Research Australia. Retrieved from: http://www.achper.vic.edu.au/resources/vce-phys-ed-articles/2-energy-system-interplay-in-team-sports
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- Williams, C., & Nicholas, C. W. (1998). Nutrition needs for team sport. Sports Science Exchange, 11(3), 70-83.