January 12, 2023 2 min read

When it comes to maximizing fitness and performance, understanding how your body uses energy is key. There are three energy systems within the human body—the ATP-PC system, the Glycolytic system, and the Aerobic system—that work together to provide us with the energy we need to function & perform. Let's take a closer look at each of these energy systems and how they can maximize our fitness and performance.

ATP-PC System (Phosphagen System)

The ATP-PC system is the body’s main source of fuel for short bursts of intense exercise lasting between 7 to 15 seconds. Think of this system like a drag race car. This system supplies us with quick bursts of power that quickly dissipate after a few seconds, making it best suited for activities that require short spurts of max effort followed by rest periods in between – 40 yrd dash, explosive jumps, etc. This system is anaerobic, meaning it does not require oxygen for fuel. In fact, this system utilizes creatine as fuel, which is primarily the reason why most individuals & athletes choose to supplement creatine.

Benefits: Power & Strength

Glycolytic System (Lactic Acid System)

The Glycolytic system, also anaerobic, is used when moderate intensity exercises that last from 20 seconds to two minutes are performed. Your glycolytic system is what kicks in after ATP-PC energy is gone. Glycolysis means the breakdown of glucose – meaning that this system relies on carbohydrates as fuel sources, which is why it’s important to consistently intake proper carbohydrates.  Examples of activities that rely on this energy system include running 400m races, swimming 50m laps, or cycling a fast-paced 10km course. The faster you move during such activities, the more you draw on your glycolytic system for energy.

Benefits: Performance, Body composition, Power, Strength endurance, Lactate threshold improvement

Aerobic System (Oxidative System)

The Aerobic system is used during long duration exercises lasting anywhere from two minutes up to over an hour. During aerobic exercise, your body utilizes carbohydrates, protein, and fat as fuel sources to sustain itself over longer durations of time without tiring out quickly. Examples include jogging 5k races or swimming 1500m events; any activity where you will be moving at a relatively low intensity for an extended period relies heavily on this type of energy system for fuel. Building a strong aerobic system will help feed the anaerobic systems & dramatically improve recovery time!

Benefits: Engine Building, Lactate threshold improvement, Oxidization of body fat, endurance, cardiovascular health

By gaining an understanding of how each energy system works within the body, you can more effectively program your workouts and ensure that you are getting the most out of your training sessions to maximize fitness and performance levels. Knowing which type of exercise will be most beneficial based on which energy systems it relies upon will help you reach your goals faster while also reducing risk of injury due to overexertion or fatigue. So, start harnessing the power of all three energy systems today

Brad Becca
Brad Becca


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