Fitness Friday - Time Domains Part 2 - How to Program

Last week we talked about the science behind the bodies energy systems and how there are used to produce energy over different time domains. If you read last weeks post then you will know there are three main energy systems. The creatine phosphate system, the glycolytic system and the aerobic system. All of which have different ways of powering the body.


In this post, we are going to go through how each system works when it is trained and how you can combine different training methods to get the best results possible.


The basics of training each system are simple.


The creatine phosphate system is best used for strength movements because it uses the stores of energy in the muscles. This means that the muscle can generate a massive amount of force. Because of this, the creatine phosphate system is used for max lifts, sprints and any movements that take less than 10 seconds.


The creatine phosphate system is also fast to recover. It takes about 3 minutes for the creatine phosphate system to recover back to maximum capacity. This means to get the most out of a muscle you should be having a 3 minute rest period between sets at least to get the most out of max-effort movements.


The glycolytic system is the body way of creating energy without the use of oxygen. But when the body isn't using oxygen to create energy is creates a by-product called lactic acid. This is the burning sensation that you get when the body is doing exercise. The muscles can produce a lot of energy while using the glycolytic system but it gradually reduces in its power production as the glucose stores get reduced and the lactic acid levels rise in the muscle.


The glycolytic system takes about 8 minutes to recover but can take up to an hour or longer for lactic acid to be drained from the body. Because of this you should try and space out high-intensity workouts so that your body can fully recover to make the most out of each workout.


The last system that the body used to create movement is the aerobic system that breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the presence of oxygen to create energy. The important aspect of this is the presence of oxygen. When oxygen is present, the body produces a lot less lactic acid meaning that you can keep moving for a lot longer. Because of this, you can train your body to keep going for hours on this system as you develop your fitness.


Depending on how hard you have worked depends on how long this system takes to recover fully. It can take anywhere from a few hours if you are doing a 15 to 30-minute workout or up to a few days if you did something like a marathon. But again this can be condition and is why professional marathon runners can do marathon distances on a regular basis.


When it comes down to training each system there a few good combos you can use. The first combo that works well is trying to combine strength with a more anaerobic style of training, for example, you could combine back squats with bike sprints. This combo would help build strength while working on your lactic acid threshold. This could look something like.


6 rounds for time

2 minutes on 2 minutes off

3 back squats @75%

remaining time max calorie assault bike


This combination is really simple but would be a great way to both works on leg strength and lactic acid capacity. It would be a leg burner, but a great way to push your legs capacity to lift weight while under fatigue. This concept would work well in a lot of different formats and you can change the movements up. But the objective would be to have a strength aspect with an anaerobic movement. With this, you want to keep the working time to about 3 minutes or less and the rest time around 2 to 3 minutes or so to make sure you can put maximum effort into each round.


Another good combination is trying to combine cardio with anaerobic. This can be achieved by combining cardiovascular movements with tight time caps and shorter time domains. A great example of this would be the acid bath workout form the Dubai CrossFit Championship. This Workout was a simple but effective workout to test athletes cardiovascular capacity along with there lactic acid threshold. That workout was.


For Time:

500m Ski Erg

500m Row Erg

1,000m bike Erg


This is a really simple but effective workout, that if you watched the Dubai Championship you will know how hard it looks never mind doing it yourself. This style of workout can also be replicated by doing things like having a chipper style workout with an EMOM going on simultaneously. By adding in a movement that needs to be done quickly it increases the heart rate and pumps a burst of lactic acid into the body intermittently. This will help train the bodies ability to deal with fluctuating levels of lactic acid.


The last combination that I am going to talk about is combining strength with aerobic training. This can be done by throwing in a heavy barbell in the middle of a longer workout. This trains the bodies ability to replenish the stores of ATP in the muscle faster so that you can perform heavy lifts intermittently during a workout. A great example of this style of workout was Open workout 20.4.


For time: 30 box jumps, 24 in. 15 clean and jerks, 42.5kg. 30 box jumps, 24 in. 15 clean and jerks, 60kg. 30 box jumps, 24 in. 10 clean and jerks, 85 kg. 30 single-leg squats 10 clean and jerks, 102.5 kg. 30 single-leg squats 5 clean and jerks, 125 kg. 30 single-leg squats 5 clean and jerks, 142.5 kg.

Time cap: 20 minutes


This workout was brutal as it tested your ability to keep moving while having minimal rest between each lift. Because of this it really tested your body ability to recover its ATP stores while under fatigue so that you could perform lifts with minimal recovery. This was a great workout as it meant that even the big lifters had to have the capacity to keep moving even if the weights are not a problem normally.


Of course, there is all sort of different combinations of training methods that you can use to get the most out of your training. This is just a few examples of what can be done to mix up your training to train different systems in your body to get the most out of your workouts. The best way to learn how to train your body is by experimenting. As a good rule, if it sucks then it means your doing it right. Have a play around with different combinations of systems and training methods and hopefully I have given you some advice to get you to the next level.

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