At P3, our primary focus has been on peak performance and injury prevention in U.S. professional power-based sports, including baseball, basketball, football, volleyball and soccer. Power is directly proportional to distance and force, but indirectly proportional to time. Its development is paramount, regardless of the specific sport and percentage of each energy system involved, because many critical movements are executed as forcefully and quickly as possible. Even intermittent sports of long continuous duration, such as basketball, soccer and rugby, involve repeated explosions. Although these explosive movements are a major component of sports, a significant part of many athlete’s conditioning has long consisted of distance running, an event that clearly does not simulate or directly prepare an individual for powerful actions such as sprinting or jumping. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that coaches are often inclined to accept the same modes of training they used as players years ago, to the belief that an aerobic or metabolic base is required for sport, and that the optimal method of developing this base is through slow, long-duration exercise.
In 2007, Dr. Marcus Elliott and P3 sports scientists wrote an academic paper titled, Power athletes and distance training a physiological and biomechanical rationale for change, which showed unequivocal drawbacks to distance training for power athletes, including inappropriate neuromuscular adaptations, a catabolic hormonal profile, an increased risk for overtraining and an ineffective motor learning environment.
Despite the fact that the science of strength and conditioning is no longer in its infancy and considerable evidence exists showing interference of strength and power gains in athletes who concurrently train aerobically, (2-4) power athletes continue to practice sustained aerobic exercise at all levels.
The following is a brief overview of energy systems, and specific guidelines for improving both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems without negatively affecting power development and movement patterns.
Human energy is ultimately the end result of our body’s ability to process the foods we eat and adapt to the physical demands it is conditioned under. Our ability to work, to exercise, and to perform the day to day tasks that we hold as necessary requires our bodies ability to employ three separate energy systems each suited best for specific performance demands. ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is the human body’s main source of energy at the cellular level. It is required for all muscle contraction and is employed by the two part anabolic system and the aerobic system to engage in any activity. All three systems can work concurrently, however, in different training and sporting environments, under varying energy demands, and over various amounts of time, one energy system will predominate to meet the peak performance demands of the athlete.
The anaerobic energy systems are comprised of two divisions, the alactic and lactic. Alactic sports include football and baseball, which both involve brief intermittent tasks involving very large power outputs. The predominant energy source for these sports is the phosphocreatine (PCr) system. Lactic sports, such as basketball and soccer, involve repetitive high intensity activity. Both the PCr/adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and glycogen/glucose systems predominantly provide energy for these sports.
The aerobic system is able to supply a level of sustained energy, but is limited by its capacity to provide energy quickly enough to meet immediate maximal effort demands. Therefore, the aerobic system predominates during bouts of demand at less than maximal but over a sustained period, and becomes a larger contributor to meeting energy demands as the period of demand increases. Aerobic metabolic pathways are important as they are required for recovery during and after activity, mostly to provide energy for the re-synthesis of PCr and the oxidation of lactate.(1)
All of the potential benefits of aerobic training, such as increased rate of PCr regeneration and improved connective tissue properties, can be attained by carefully prescribed interval training and in some cases, light technique work of sports skill development.
Guidelines for Improving
Power and Endurance
Interval training can be defined as a type of physical training that involves burst of high intensity work, followed by complete or active rest. Intervals should be <30 seconds to avoid significant lactate accumulation, as well as resemble the shorter duration of most athletic movement. Between these work intervals, the athlete should perform active rest at about half of the effort of the more intense intervals to continue to oxidize anaerobic metabolites and maintain a relatively low level of lactic acid in the muscle tissue. Although the work-to-rest ratio may be manipulated for certain situations and desired goals, a ratio of 1 : 1 has been suggested to sustain a higher aerobic stimulus, while minimizing lactate accumulation.
The complex in the clip above was specifically applied to improve Derrick Favor’s lateral speed and change of direction. When done with short rest intervals this complex is very demanding from a metabolic standpoint. This off-season we have been working to make Derrick a “metabolic monster,” with the capacity to give maximal effort over and over again throughout the course of a 48-minute game without fatiguing. Derrick has responded very well to the demanding workouts at P3, and should be more than ready to physically dominate and utilize his world class power once the season starts.
At P3, a major route to improving performance is through the application of “complex training,” which involves combining high load strength movements with biomechanically similar plyometric/ballistic movements as a means of taking advantage of Post Activation Potentiation (PAP), a phenomenon that refers to enhancement of muscle function as a result of its contractile history. The PAP element of the complex will often be followed by sports specific metabolic movements <30 seconds for athletes who need to improve their body composition, work capacity and or aerobic fitness. Complex training is also an excellent way to increase training density, which directly affects work capacity and is essential for building the type of anaerobic energy system and muscle endurance that allow an athlete to give maximal effort throughout the course of a competition or practice.
1. Burleson MA, O’Bryant HS, Stone MH, et al. Effect of weight training exercise and treadmill exercise on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30 (4): 518-22
2. Bell GJ, Syrotuik D, Martin TP, et al. Effect of concurrent strength and endurance training on skeletal muscle properties and hormone concentrations in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol Mar 2000; 81 (5): 418-27
3. Hennessy LC, Watson AWS. The interference effects of training for strength and endurance simultaneously. J Strength Cond Res 1994; 8: 12-9
4. Kraemer WJ, Patton JF, Gordon SE, et al. Compatibility of high-intensity strength and endurance training on hormonal and skeletal muscle adaptations. J Appl Physiol 1995; 78 (3): 976-89