Why We Train The Way We Do

There's a method to the madness

It's good to remind ourselves, from time to time, why we do high intensity interval training and why we don't just lace up our shoes and go for long runs or sit on a stationary bike and read the paper while we pedal for an hour.  First of all, pedaling all by yourself on a stationary bike is boring.  Running for miles every day certainly has its benefits, but it also has it's challenges, especially if you want to get stronger.

Here's a reminder from last Spring, of the science behind our training method:

There are three metabolic pathways that provide energy for all human action.
There is the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

The phosphagen pathway provides fuel for the highest powered activities, those that last less than 10 seconds.  An example would be performing a 50 yard sprint. 

The glycolytic pathway takes over for moderate-powered activities, those that last up to around 2 minutes.  Think 400 meter sprint. 

Finally, the oxidative (aerobic) pathway is used for activities that last longer than a few minutes.   Running a mile would greatly utilize this pathway.

Which is the best pathway to train in?

We try to combine and develop all three metabolic pathways with the programming we prescribe at Fit.  Some of the benefit from working in the glycolytic and phosphagen pathways are:

  1. Increase Fat Loss
  2. Increase Resting Metabolic rate
  3. Increase in oxygen uptake
  4. Increase in Cardio Vascular endurance
  5. Increase in Strength

*Think of the physic a 400 meter runner, not big and bulky, but lean and athletic.

When I work mostly in the  oxidative (aerobic) pathway some of the benefits are:

  1. Increase oxygen uptake
  2. increase cardio vascular endurance

*Think of the physic of a professional marathoner, thin and frail-looking. 

 A common fault in training is to focus your efforts on just one or two of these metabolic pathways.   This is usually due to personal preference or comfort level, but by doing so, the likelihood of improving your fitness level is greatly diminished.  It is important to focus on all three pathways, with the majority of our time in the glycolytic and phosphagen ones.  The work we do in these two pathways will increase our capacity in the oxidative (aerobic) pathway. However, the work we do in the oxidative (aerobic) pathway will blunt the capacity in the glycolytic and phosphagen pathways.

Here is a link to the graph I drew, oh so long ago, on the white board that shows these systems durations and intensities. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/c341d25c94add851c89d3258f/images/41f64a07-5851-4c6c-9cd2-796585cbd144.png