Boxing Blog

    Different Energy Systems and How (we try!) to cater for them!

    Hi Team,

    Happy Sunday – thanks as always to everyone who has got into the gym this week!

    Well – the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down!  Despite the claims in the gym today that “this is what Perth winters were like back in the ‘90’s”, well, I’m kind of over the continuous rain.  It barely feels like we’ve had a dry day in 3-weeks – all of which has had me chatting to a few of our running/cycling people about how they can get their “k’s” in without spending a few hours outside in the cold and rain!

    The first part of this answer is obvious – come inside, use the stationary bike/ski/rower/treadmill and just grind it out.  I mean, we all know treadmill running isn’t the same as running (well, runners KNOW!) and spin bike is not the same as a bike…but there are some things to think about outside of that.  

    Each of has has (2) two energy ‘systems’ – which means that depending on what you are training for the protocol you need to FOCUS on will be different.  I mean, in pretty much every workout you do you will use both systems – but to what level is the question…and to what level SHOULD you use them?  

    (Oh – before we go on, I know there are 3x energy systems and that the anaerobic system consists of the anaerobic atp-cp system and the anaerobic glycolysis system but for the purposes of this let’s simplify – two systems, one for ‘high intensity, short duration efforts’ and one for ‘lower intensity, extended duration efforts’.  OK??).

    If you think of the energy systems used by your body like the gears in a car (no-one drives manual cars anymore so this example could fall VERY flat) but each of our energy systems are used more/less depending on how ‘fast’ we are going…and how ‘long’ we are trying to go at that speed.  I guess the other reason my car example is not perfect is that cars cannot be in first gear AND third gear at the same time…whereas our body regularly uses multiple ‘gears’ at the same time…

    The first of our Energy Systems is our ‘AEROBIC’ system

    This is our default energy system and if you are sitting around watching Netflix and eating chips you will be utilising your ‘aerobic’ system.  I mean, I would like to think you aren’t ‘stressing it’ doing those activities but you would be using it!  Your AEROBIC system is used for longer duration efforts – aerobic means ‘with oxygen’ – and in the gym efforts that take more than 2-minutes to complete (well, depending on the capacity of your anaerobic glycolysis system) will use your AEROBIC system.

    To improve your aerobic system, it is regularly said you should train for a minimum of 20-minutes at a ‘steady state’ with ‘regular’ bursts of increased effort within that time to help increase your VO2 max!

    Our ‘other’ Energy Systems is our ‘ANAEROBIC’ system

    Our anaerobic system – or ‘without oxygen’ system – is what we use when we need high-levels of energy for a short (which can be anything up to 2-mins) time.  We also use anaerobic energy when we ‘start off’ on a longer activity and our breathing has yet to stabilise – we need to start getting oxygen in to use the aerobic system – so (for example) when you start off on a long bike challenge you will initially use your anaerobic system then your body will ‘change down’ to your aerobic system when it can.

    In theory, you can access anaerobic energy for as long as two minutes, but for most ‘normal’ people it is between 30 seconds and a minute before the gasping for air kicks in and you need to stabilise your breathing and convert to using aerobic energy.  You train this system the way you use it: with short bouts of near-maximal effort followed by a rest period. Remember that “maximal” is going to be relative to your strength and conditioning level.


    At Round 1 we TRY to make sure we are regularly challenging both our aerobic and anaerobic systems.  I am certain you can think of how – doing things like tabata sprints on the cardio is an effort to challenge your anaerobic systems…doing longer duration calorie/distance targets is the way we try to improve your aerobic capacity.  So – we try to build this in.  But how can YOU build it in to your treadmill/bike extras to maintain your conditioning whilst the bad weather keeps you inside?  Well – something like the treadmill program below would be a good starting point:

    So – As you can see over time the speed and incline is changed to really push you to change your speed/intensity as you go along.  And of course I know that for most runners 10-minutes is just getting started…cool!  Double the intervals, or simply complete a second lap etc.  I know that you will find as the incline goes UP the challenge to maintain your breathing gets ‘REAL’!

    With the other equipment, I use the following program to really provide a cardio challenge on the rowers/skis and bikes:

    I guess the overall point is that you can continue to progress your running/cycling etc even when the weather is bad – just don’t get into the trap of thinking a 30 minute run on the treadmill is going to provide the same challenge to your energy systems WITHOUT taking the time to plan out how to vary your session in order to correctly challenge your energy systems.

    Anyway, good luck – and here’s to the sunshine!

    See you in the gym,



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