Energy Pathways of the Body

Energy Pathways and Athletics 

ATP/CP pathway which is considered the “explosive” energy pathway. ATP/CP pathway provides energy rapidly in a short period of time. The ATP/CP energy system fuels exercise that requires powerful movements for about 10 seconds or less. Recovery time for this pathway is up to 5 minutes after a set of intense exercise. Sports might use this pathway are: Powerlifting, shot putting, and 100 meter sprinter. Pretty much any sport that requires instant power production. Keep in mind this system is not just for athletes, you can use this system to get up quickly from a chair or catch a falling object. 

The Non-oxidative energy system is also known as the anaerobic system. It starts when you begin exercise and when you might endure higher than normal intensity exercise. This system kicks in at about 10 seconds to 2 minutes. As the ATP/CP pathway uses ATP and creatine phosphate as immediate energy, the non-oxidative pathway makes ATP by breaking down glucose and glycogen and does not require oxygen. The anaerobic energy system is important for sports like crossfit, ice hockey, tennis and short distance running. Three issues this system might have are, First the human body can only store a certain amount of glucose and glycogen. Second muscle glycogen is only available locally meaning if your training for shoulders, your shoulder glycogen is only available for your shoulders and cant be used for other body parts. Three, Lactic acid which is often the reason for weakness and fatigue during intense exercise using this energy system.

Oxidative energy system also known as aerobic system. This system is for any activity lasting more than 2 minutes. This system does require oxygen to make ATP but it takes its sweet time doing so. This is the main system for activities like walking, hiking, long distance running, and even jobs that require a low pace constant movement like UPS/USPS delivery person. Unlike the other energy systems, this system will start using fat as the duration goes on and intensity dictates oxygen consumption. 

Our bodies use all 3 systems during everyday life and exercise. Depending on intensity and duration will determine which energy system is utilized. Keep in mind that all the systems are working together but at different ratios. For example a sport like ice hockey,  when a player steps on the ice they glide around and track the play once they see the puck they explode and chase after it. Once they pick up the puck with their stick they explode again towards the net and blast off a powerful shot at the goalie. If they score or the goalie makes the stop the play of the game stops. Players stop and skate to their teams bench and rest. The average shift length is about 1 min in most levels of the sport. They rest up to 3 minutes and go back out. A hockey player mostly uses all 3 energy systems while playing in the game. They use the ATP/CP and the non-oxidative pathways but the aerobic system is always the foundation to the other systems. With out a good conditioned aerobic system the other two systems wont be as effective. You might see players practice explosive starts and stops which use the ATP/CP pathway, longer drills about the 1 min mark will use the non-oxidative system.  Then you could see the oxidative system used when a coach does a so-called bag skate meaning he could skate them up to 10 minutes straight doing laps around the rink.

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