Energy system development is a hot topic these days. I spent the last few years researching and applying various protocols and paid specific attention to energy system development for MMA fighters.
For this post, I won’t delve too much into what exactly alactic training is. If you want to start with a description of alactic training with a few examples of training ideas, read this alactic training post first.
Today I’m going to provide you with a random brain dump on alactic training.
1. If your goal is to train alactic power, you need to follow some basic guidelines.
- Your work rate should be high intensity for for :6 to :10. You need full recovery so a work-to-rest ratio 1:5 to 1:7 is a good place to start.
- The key is to find metrics and assess where are you at prior to designing a training protocol.
- There are several ways to assess and measure alactic power. You can use watts, distance covered, reps performed in a given time or weight lifted.
2. Everyone uses ATP differently.
This is an important point to keep in mind when it comes to designing a training plan. Every athlete is unique. Even a slight variation in exercise selection can impact performance. For example, an :8 uphill sprint may smoke someone, but he/she might be fine with a :8 bike sprint. As a coach, you need to understand how each drill impacts your athlete(s) as this will absolutely impact what your athlete needs for recovery time.
3. Extending on the point above, exercise selection is vital when training the alactic system.
This is where many people get it wrong. If you perform :8 of bicep curls with a moderate weight, you are doing it wrong. Drills like bike sprints, hill sprints, and battling rope slams are much better choices.
The key is to choose exercises that are systemic in nature.
4. Lactic Acid is always present in the blood during exercise.
The idea that you can train without the presence of lactic acid is silly. This is why some people argue that the term alactic is a bit of a misonomer. Perhaps we should just call it the ATP-PC system to avoid conflict since that’s really what it is.
5. Genetics play a large role in the development of the alactic system.
The simplest way to see this is by observing a naturally explosive athlete move. When you watch these athletes, it seems like jumping and bounding are effortless to them.
Joel Jamieson talks about this in his book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning. He mentions that fast twitch fibers have the potential to store more creatine phosphate allowing a greater capacity for energy production.
6. All of the energy systems “turn on” at once.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot train just one energy system at a time. Each energy system always contributes, just in different amounts based on the type of training you’re doing. If you choose to target a specific system, it is very duration and intensity dependent so plan wisely.
7. If you understand the energy demands of a sport, you can train your athletes accordingly.
Keep in mind, alactic training is important for athletes beyond MMA Fighters. Check out these stats on American Football I put together:
- Total Duration: 60 minutes (4x 15 minute quarters)
- Average number of plays per game – 60-70
- Average time of game action – 11 minutes
- Average time of each play :6
- Average rest time in between plays is :30
- Work-to-rest time is roughly 1:5
- The numbers – 60 sets of :6 plays with a rest of :30
- Halftime is 12 minutes so we need to divide this number in half
- 30 sets of :6 plays with a rest of :30
- Rest 12 minutes – refueling time
- 30 sets of :6 plays with a rest of :30
Do you think alactic training is important for football players? You bet it is.
8. If your goal is to develop alactic capacity, you will get more tired as you accumulate volume during the workout.
This is normal, but make sure that you stay relatively explosive in the latter sets.
9. Strength training is primarily alactic in nature.
Hopefully I don’t have to stress the importance of strength in combat sports. Hit the weights, will ya? Aim for a double bodyweight deadlift, some 24k weighted pullups and a squat of 1.5 bodyweight for 5 reps. These are great strength goals for most athletes to shoot for!
10. You need to train at max intensity to improve this system!
If simply won’t work if you are reading blogs and posting on facebook during your workout! Focus on what you are doing. Give your training everything you have.