By Shannon Grady, MS Exercise Physiologist, Owner/Founder Go! Athletics.
What is Bioenergetics and why does it matter? Bioenergetics is a field in biochemistry that regards energy flow through living systems which encompasses human cellular and metabolic processes. Bioenergetics notably includes ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate, or the energy source for human movement. Bioenergetics encompasses ATP production and usage along with energy relationships such as the energy that is exchanged and available to do work to perform activities or functions such as running, swimming, cycling, or rowing.
Fortunately, the human bioenergetic power output is a closed system with a distinctive set of variables that can be measured and measured quite precisely by combining physiological, biochemical, and movement data. Humans are living systems that produce ATP from organic sources, namely carbohydrates, via oxidative phosphorylation. Every activity from sleeping, rowing a 2k, running marathon, or swimming a 50m butterfly can be defined along the human bioenergetic power continuum. Each activity has a distinct set of measurable variables that correlate to the optimal bioenergetic power for that particular activity. For example, the bioenergetic power required to run an optimal marathon is going to require less bioenergetic power than required to run an optimal 3000 meter race. Physiological profile testing can identify which Systems’ bioenergetic power of an athlete is lacking in order to reach optimal bioenergetic power output. By quantifying these Systems by bioenergetic power output, highly specific training parameters for each System can be executed to translate into the fastest time that athletes can achieve their specific goal event or events in.
Along the human bioenergetic power continuum, power outputs can be measured in all Systems in order to guide training parameters for improving power along any part of the human continuum. Testing can also identify if the bioenergetic power output is even available in the Systems necessary for the athlete to perform optimally in their goal event. For example, many athletes will focus on various types of training throughout a yearly cycle from aerobic base work, to lactate threshold, to speed work in hopes of finding the right combination of work in each of these areas to create the optimal performance outcomes in the event in which they are training. An elite miler might do quite a bit of miles and threshold work in the off or early season in order to build a base or foundation to develop speed. An elite marathoner might do quite a bit of 3k or 5k type training or racing in the off or early season in order to develop speed. Each one has a plan or type of focus in order to benefit another area of focus to create the best velocity for the distance in which they are racing. During those off or early season periods where a miler is focusing on volume and slower paced workouts, it will be difficult for them to run an optimal time for the mile. Vice versa for the marathoner when focusing on speed work, jumping in a marathon to check fitness will turn out to be a long, tough day.
The bioenergetic availability in relevant Systems is necessary in order to perform each event in the fastest time for each athlete. Bioenergetic power must be available in applicable Systems in order for athletes to improve their times in their respective events. If the bioenergetic power is not available, no amount of mental toughness will enable that athlete to run faster in an event that requires bioenergetic output in a System that is not available. Through testing at any point in the season or training phases, athletes and coaches can measure their bioenergetic power in every System to determine which area of training focus needs work to achieve desired race distance and performance outcomes.
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Evaluating the variables necessary to measure bioenergetic power in every System can be an extremely valuable tool for measuring and defining progress and guiding specific, individualized training parameters. The bioenergetic power outputs are an essential piece of information in the System Based Training testing and analysis that is used to create highly focused and individualized athlete training parameters in every System. The repeat testing provides measurable and quantitative values to training progress in each System that also goes along with notable performance changes. The benefit of adapting training based on physiological changes rather than a performance change is that developing training based on performance changes will not identify Systems in which greatest adaptations can be made for each athlete at the current time.
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Bioenergetic power in each System will change throughout different training phases, and understanding the relevance of each power score for the event is fundamental to improved performances. The analysis of bioenergetic power in each System is a valuable tool to understanding current performances and physiological functioning. The bioenergetic power data is of utmost importance when System Based Training physiological profile tests are evaluated and analyzed. The recommended Systems, velocities, volume, and frequency for each athlete is highly dependent upon this variable. Bioenergetic power analysis is a key variable to quantify training progress to provide focused training stimulus which will lead to optimized and accelerated performance results. Since training recommendations are individualized, athletes train based upon what bioenergetic outputs their body can handle at any given time, reducing the risk of injury due to over stressed or overreaching training.