Off-Season Training Part 3 - How Are You Training Your Energy Systems?

If you've been following our blogs you may remember part 1 and part 2 of this blog. The mistakes most people make for the off-season and what to train. 

If you've missed them I implore you to check them out again.  

Today I want to talk about our different energy systems you can train. This is where we get sport specific. 

Keeping it simple our body has three types of energy systems, oxidative, glycolytic, and phosphagen. In an easy world each system works on it's own seperate paradigm. However in our world every system contributes all the time, but there's always going to be one that is doing more of the work. 

To explain what each system is think of this, oxidative is running a marathon, glycolytic is running a 400, and phosphagen is sprinting.

Any athlete knows they need to train each of these, but if all your doing is picking up heavy things and putting them down your missing out on oxidative and glycolytic. If you're just doing circuits that require a lot of explosive movements your missing phosphagen and oxidative. Start to see where I'm going with this?

A good off-season training program will encompass and progress through improving all three of these. For arguments sake the glycolytic system is what most field athletes do. Basically they have bouts where they have to produce a lot of power, and they have bouts where they're just running, but most the time their body has to be capable at producing power over and over and over again. 

So at face value it makes sense to train this system first. However, we can't just take it at face value. Remember at the most profound level every system is at work. In all honesty an athlete needs an efficient oxidative system before they need to worry about glycolytic, and they really shouldn't train both at the same time because of competing demands on the heart. Don't forget that your heart is a muscle too.

That being said, all throughout the off-season training you can train the phosphagen system. That means there's nothing wrong with throwing in some sets where you pick up heavy things and put them down. Or throw heavy things over your head, I actually highly recommend it.

I like to start my off-season athletes with the oxidative system dominated program first. That way I'm training a low resting heart rate and building a really solid foundation for the rest of the training. To that extent, oxidative training done right really helps athletes recovery from the season, and sets a good tone for the rest of the training.

Then I like to shift focus to a little bit more of picking up heavy things and putting them down. Strength is not the end all, be all, but athlete's do need a sufficient amount of strength to be remotely successful with producing power.

Finally we finish our off season really focusing on the athletes ability to explode and do so over and over. This is what most athlete's need but remember this isn't where most if any athlete should truly start. During this phase it's important to maintain oxidative qualities and I usually do so during deload weeks.

All along I'm working on maintaining strength and movement. Keep in mind most athlete's don't need to deadlift a truck they just need a solid level of strength that will help them dominate their competition without getting hurt, and this is going to look different from athlete to athlete.

So ultimately here's what an off-season program should look like;

  1. Phase 1 - Oxidative Training with Phosphagen maintenance
  2. Phase 2 - Phosphagen training with oxidative maintenance
  3. Phase 3 - Glycolytic Training with oxidative and phosphagen maintenance

Go through these three phases before the pre-season and you'll see so much better performance from your athletes.

-Dave