Before we dig deeper into the subject matter of training plans, it’s important to know and to understand the fundamentals of how the human body actually works. What do we really want to achieve when we “train?”
In the end, it’s really all about promoting a certain performance, i.e. to make our bodies more high-powered. If you paid attention in school to your physiology lessons, you may already remember some of this. Power (or performance) refers basically to the conversion of energy over a certain period of time. In short: Power = Energy / Time
In other words, we need energy to achieve a corresponding performance, which is precisely what we work on when we train - energy supply. There are two primary sources for energy production: carbohydrates and fats, and there are two ways for us to gain energy from these sources, the anerobic system and the aerobic system.
Anaerobic means that we do not need oxygen to find energy using this method. On the other hand, we need oxygen to source energy via the aerobic system. It is however important to note that both systems are always working in tandem. In other words, We are always sourcing energy from both energy systems, as neither the anaerobic or the aerobic system work alone.
Let’s take a closer look at the process of energy production. While our carbohydrate stores are very limited, fats are available at nearly unlimited amounts. The problem, the body always resorts to using valuable carbohydrates first, which are very quickly metabolized without the need for oxygen (i.e. anerobic). Accordingly, we gain quick energy. Actually, a pretty amazing thing, but once the stores are empty, there is no more gas in the tank so to speak. Therefore, we need to teach the body to use this form of energy as sparingly as possible, particularly during longer activity. This process of carbohydrate metabolism creates lactate, which is the substance that is always depicted as damaging and bad. But is it really so? I can reassure you, that it is not at all. Lactate per se is always full of energy, energy of which we can use. However, for that we now need oxygen. If there is enough available, then the accumulated lactate is further metabolized one-to-one directly via aerobic pathways.
And what about fats? If the body has enough oxygen available, (in other words during very low-intensity physical stress) it turns increasingly to fat. With that, it has an energy source that it can take advantage of for several hours. The decisive difference between it and carbohydrates is however that fats are only aerobic – meaning they must have oxygen to be metabolized.