How to Train All Energy Systems in a Single Session

How to Train All Energy Systems in a Single Session

A Practical Approach for Concurrent Energy System Training

The body has three main energy systems, and energy system training is training that is designed to improve each of these. 

What are the three systems?

We at OPEX refer to these energy systems as Gain, Pain, and Sustain.

Gain, or anaerobic alactic, training primarily uses creatine-phosphate and adenosine triphosphate as fuel. This is sometimes referred to as CP-ATP training.

Pain, or anaerobic lactic, training primarily uses lactate as fuel, fed by glycogen. This is sometimes referred to as glycolytic training.

Sustain, or aerobic, training primarily uses oxygen as fuel. This is sometimes referred to as oxidative training.

The purpose of this blog is to demonstrate how to program all energy systems in one single session.  

(New to energy system training? Get in-depth concept exploration and sample programming in the Energy System Training guide.)

CONCURRENT TRAINING, WHAT IS IT?

The combination of training multiple energy systems is referred to as concurrent training (CT). We use this to improve Pain, Gain, and Sustain together. 

Clients who are participating in mixed-type sports and activities require a combination of both power-related and endurance-related attributes to excel. They depend on all energy systems and different strength and speed properties. Competitive functional fitness, mixed martial arts, boxing, basketball, soccer, football, and many others fall into this category.

Clients who are looking to improve markers in health and fitness will also benefit from training multiple energy systems in a single session. The concurrent model works for all walks of life. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAINING ORGANIZATION 

Organizing a training session can start with either Gain or Sustain, so long as they are carefully designed.

In order to achieve the maximum stimulus from resistance, i.e. Gain, training, the central nervous system needs to be fresh. For this reason, it is best practice to place Gain training first in a session.

Any activity completed before Gain will engage the system to some extent, but when appropriately designed, Sustain training can be placed prior to Gain. Sustain contractions must be aerobic and cannot be too high in volume or they will create a dampening effect on the nervous system.

The pain must be the last system prescribed in a training session. 

Here Is Why: 

  1. Pain can’t come before Gain training because of the metabolic and the central nervous system stress it creates, lowering maximal expression of strength. 
  2. Pain can’t come before Sustain training because it will create inappropriate utilization of fuel. The body will be in glycolysis from Pain training and will continue to use glycogen during Sustain training, not oxygen. 

To explore the principles of concurrent training and see more sample training programs, download our free guide, How to Organize Daily Training Sessions. 

4 Week Progression Gain + Sustain + Pain Example:

Week 1:

A. Front Squat @20X0; 5-5-5-5, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

B. Single Arm DB Row @20X0; 12-15 reps/arm x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

C. For reps @ sustainable effort: [Sustain]

30 Seconds Row for calories, 30 seconds rest 

30 Seconds Burpees, 30 seconds rest

x4

D. 12 Seconds Airbike for calories @ very hard effort, 2:00 minutes rest x 5 sets [Pain]

Week 2: 

A. Front Squat @20X0; 4-3-4-3, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

B. Prone Row @20X0; 9-12 reps x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

C. For reps @ sustainable effort: [Sustain]

60 Seconds Jog for calories, 60 seconds rest 

60 Seconds Alternating Step Up, 60 seconds rest

x4

D. 15 Seconds Airbike for calories @ very hard effort, 2:30 minutes rest x 5 sets [Pain]

Week 3: 

A. Front Squat @20X0; 2-2-2-2, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

B. Pendlay Row @20X0; 6-9 reps x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

C. For reps @ sustainable effort: [Sustain]

2 Minutes Ski for calories, 2 Minutes rest 

2 Minutes Burpees, 2 Minutes rest

x3

D. 20 Seconds Airbike for calories @ very hard effort, 3:30 minutes rest x 5 sets [Pain]

Week 4: 

A. Front Squat @20X0; 2-1-2-1, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

B. Weighted Pronated Pull Up @20X0; 3 reps x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

C. For Time @sustainable effort: [Sustain]

750m Row, 3 Minutes rest 

400m Run, 3 Minutes rest

x3

D. 25 Seconds Airbike for calories @ very hard effort, 4:00 minutes rest x 5 sets [Pain]

4 Week Progression Sustain + Gain + Pain Example:

Week 1:

A. 15 Minute Airbike @ 1 Hour Pace [Sustain]

B. Bench Press @20X0; 9-9-6-6, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

C. Rear Foot Elevated Romanian Deadlift @20X0; 12-15 reps per leg x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

D. 3 Sets @ hard effort: [Pain]

5 Power Clean @ 65% of one rep maximum

6 Bar Facing Burpees

20 Calorie Assault Bike @98% 

Rest 6 minutes

Week 2:

A. 20 Minute Airbike @ 1 Hour Pace [Sustain]

B. Bench Press @20X0; 7-6-5-4, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

C. Rear Foot Elevated Romanian Deadlift @20X0; 9-12 reps per leg x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

D. 3 Sets @ hard effort: [Pain]

12 Hang Power Snatch @ 35% of one rep maximum

9 Lateral Burpee Over Erg

250m Row @98% 

Rest 6 minutes

Week 3:

A. 25 Minute Airbike @ 1 Hour Pace [Sustain]

B. Bench Press @20X0; 5-5-5-5, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

C. Front Rack Split Squat @20X0; 6-9 reps per leg x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

D. 3 Sets @ hard effort: [Pain]

10 Burpee 

10 Power Clean and Jerk @45% 

10 Burpee

250m Row @98%

Rest 7 minutes

Week 4:

A. 30 Minute Airbike @ 1 Hour Pace [Sustain]

B. Bench Press @20X0; 3-3-3-3, 3-4 minutes rest [Gain]

C. Back Rack Split Squat @20X0; 6-9 reps per leg x 3 sets, 2 minutes rest [Gain]

D. 3 Sets @ hard effort: [Pain]

20 Full Kettlebell Swings

15 Burpee

20 Full Kettlebell Swings

15 Burpee

Rest 7 minutes

The ability to program all energy systems in a single session and create effective progressions is a valuable tool for any coach to possess. Take the next step in mastering energy system training and download our Energy System Training guide today.

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