Energy Systems and How to Train Them

There are three different energy systems that we use to replenish ATP (a high energy compound used by all cells in the body): Creatine Phosphate (CP), Lactic Acid, and Aerobic. We never use one system exclusively but instead use varying levels of all three depending on the effort.


The CP system is fast acting and used for efforts of 5-20 seconds and is considered anaerobic since oxygen is not needed to replace ATP during the effort. The Lactic Acid system is used for efforts of 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The duration is affected by the end product, lactic acid. Like the CP system, the lactic acid system is considered to be anaerobic because oxygen is not needed to replace ATP. Lactate threshold is the balance between lactate production and removal. The threshold is the point where the production of lactic acid due to exercise, is greater than the body’s ability to eliminate it. This has also been referred to as the Anaerobic Threshold but this term is inaccurate in that assumes the body becomes anaerobic and starts producing lactic acid when it is actually produced even at the lowest levels of exercise. As exercise intensity increases, the body relies on the lactic system to an even greater extent. As more is produced, the body’s ability to remove and metabolize lactate is critical to sustaining the effort. Training that is specific to increasing the body’s ability to buffer the lactic acid is important.


The third energy system, the aerobic, is used for long duration events and can metabolize energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Large amounts of ATP are replaced during these efforts as more oxygen is delivered to the muscle cells. The physiological maximum for this would be the VO2Max. This is the measure of milliliters of oxygen per kilograms of body weight per minute that the body can process.


The Following Would Be More Specific Training Intensities For Each System

CP system: 10-30 second sprints, all out, with 10 minutes recovery between each with 4-8 efforts depending on fitness level


Lactic system: 2-4 minute efforts at a heart rate of 95 to 98% of max with the time between the same as the interval


Lactate threshold training: 5-60 minute efforts at 90-93% of maximum heart rate with recovery times between each of 1-5 minutes


Aerobic: 1-3 hour efforts with heart rate from 65% to 85%


You are welcome to contact me regarding attending one of my Circuit Training classes at the Cincinnati Sports Center. I highly recommend that all cyclists engage in core and strength training on a year-round basis. If performed properly, you will not add unneeded weight, you will strengthen the muscles needed to not only power the bike but also the muscles needed to sustain the time spent on the bike, and you will provide your bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons with the much needed impact exercises required for long-term health.


Download the Circuit Training Exercises
This includes: core, upper body, lower body, full body, speed/agility/balance.


Download the Training Interval Definition
This includes definitions of common terminology used.


Download the Cycling Code of Conduct
This includes: guiding principles; riding as a group; rules of the road; ride discipline; ride leader; mechanical problems; food and clothing; use of aerobars; child protection policy; and getting home again.


Download the Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

Youtube Links

Step Exercises

Floor Exercises

Pushup Variations

Core Exercises


Home | About Coach | Time Trials & Clinics
Heart Rate Zones | Energy Systems & How To Train Them
Blog | Photos & Other Links | Contact Us

Optimizing Web Sites Magnet Digital

1180 Beverly Hill Drive | 513.207.4269