Endurance State
Endurance State
Endurance State

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Anaerobic Capacity

02/02/2012

Anaerobic Capacity:

Anaerobic Capacity can be defined as the highest rate of energy production that can be achieved in 60 -90 sec of work. This will require burning a significant amount of carbohydrate as fuel and occur at a rate where oxygen cannot be delivered quick enough to the working muscles to prevent build up of Lactate and Hydrogen ions in the muscles.

The body uses ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) as its main means of producing energy for movement or living. The rate at which it uses ATP is governed by the energy systems it chooses to produce energy and the level of conditioning /capacity of the body to store/produce ATP.

When ATP splits it produces energy and causes muscle fibres to contract producing movement. There are three main energy systems that rebuild the broken ATP to allow continued /faster or more forceful movement.

  1. Creatine Phosphate system: High rate of ATP production but limited battery. Only lasts 4-8 seconds total.
  2. Anaerobic Glycolysis: Burns Carbohydrate without the need for immediate oxygen and offers next highest rate of ATP production. Typically this system can produce high rate of ATP production for 60-90 seconds before severe fatigue and lowered rate of ATP production occurs.
  3. Aerobic System: Here the body can produce ATP using Carbohydrate /Fat or even Protein as fuel at lower rates though than the above energy systems.

 

All sports will require the body to produce energy and therefore require ATP. However the rates, quantities and frequency at which ATP will be needed will vary considerably for each sport and distance. At Endurance State we blend the development of each energy system according to your goal event.

Anaerobic Capacity will reflect the athlete’s ability to produce energy fast for approximately  one minute and is similar to a cars fuel injection system. It allows sudden acceleration and pace changes to occur efficiently. Speed and efficiency at above race pace is a key indicator of performance potential and all the best athletes are fast among their peers over short distances such as 100-400m in running or cycling, 50-100 m in swimming.

Even though Aerobic Capacity is the critical marker for endurance athletes it is vital to work on anaerobic performance for some of the following reasons:

  • Speed Kills: All sports may require pace changes that require the anaerobic  energy systems to make the difference between holding onto the pack or letting go.
  • Maintaining / Improving Anaerobic capacity in the off –season helps reduce the likelihood for over training through spending too much time at threshold (Zone 3 / 4) when you shouldn't. Trust me on this, I could explain but would take a lot of science jargon.
  • Anaerobic Capacity training improves the Aerobic system quicker than aerobic training. Just don’t take this to the extreme. DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD!
  • Great way to control body fat as anaerobic capacity training burns sugar in a hurry.

At Sports med Ireland we serially test our athlete’s anaerobic capacity in a simple but cruel test.

We just get them to finish their lactate tests with a 1 minute maximal run or bike rep. We note energy produced (Average wattage / Speed) and then their lactate production score after a couple of minutes. Since lactate is a by-product of burning carbohydrate the higher the lactate score the more carbs burned and the higher the rate of ATP produced. It’s an individual score since a slow twitch-er can’t burn as much carbs as a fast twitch athlete so there’s no point comparing scores. Also we need to control diet pre test to make sure glycogen stores full so there’s adequate sugar to burn.

We then have an indicator of the strength of their Anaerobic Capacity and

 Aerobic capacity from the rest of the lactate test. We can use this information to see if training is working and if the right blend of energy systems is developing given phase of training etc.

Here’s a sample Anaerobic Capacity bike turbo workout we prescribe sometimes:

ANAEROBIC CAPACITY WORKOUT (1 HOUR)

 

WARM UP WELL WITH 10 MIN ZONE 1 /RPE 8 INCLUDING 2 @ 2 MIN FAST CADENCE>100 RPM

 

THEN ZONE 2 @10 MIN WITH 1 SET (5 @ 10 SEC ZONE 6 / RPE 18 / 150%+FTP / 50 SEC Z1 BETWEEN)

 

REST SESSION ZONE 2 / RPE 10 WITH 5 @ 30 SEC SEC SPRINT TO ZONE 6 POWER WITH BIG GEAR FROM SLOW START AND REST BETWEEN SPRINTS MIN OF 4.5 MIN

 

WARM DOWN ZONE 1 EASY TO FINISH 60 MIN

 

 

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