Taekwondo And Energy Systems – The Anaerobic And Aerobic Glycolytic Systems

Tae Kwon Do TrainingIn a previous article we learned about the ATP-PCr energy system and how this is important for Taekwondo. As previously mentioned there are actually three separate energy systems through which ATP can be produced. A number of factors determine which of these energy systems is chosen by the body, such as exercise intensity.

Remember that the carbohydrates we eat supply the body with glucose (the body’s fuel), which can be stored as glycogen in the muscles or liver for later use.

The by product of glycolysis is pyruvic acid. Pyruvic acid can then be either funneled through a process called the Krebs cycle or is converted into lactic acid.

Put in simple terms if the final end by product is lactic acid, the process can be labeled as anaerobic glycolysis (basically meaning the process happened without the presence of oxygen) and if the end by product remains as pyruvate the process is labeled aerobic glycolysis (basically meaning the process happened with the presence of oxygen through the Krebs cycle).

Alternative terms often used are fast glycolysis if the final product is lactic acid and slow glycolysis for the process that leads to pyruvate being funneled through the Krebs cycle. As its name would suggest the fast glycolitic system can produce energy at a greater rate than slow glycolysis.

However, because the end product of fast glycolysis is lactic acid, it can quickly accumulate and is thought to lead to muscular fatigue. This is also linked to blood lactate. See the article on What are lactic acid and blood lactate and how does this impact on Taekwondo competition?

So what does this all mean for a Taekwondo athlete/coach? Read on…

During a Taekwondo match there is a constant flow of low level exercise being performed when the athlete bounces, motions and fakes all throughout a round. This form of exercise is reliant on the aerobic (slow) glycolytic system. Longer intermittent bursts of intensive kicking in a match rely heavily on both the anaerobic (fast) glycolytic system and (as previously mentioned) faster, shorter and higher intensity bursts of kicking activity rely on the ATP-PCr system.

Dependant on how the match goes depends on which of the energy systems is relied upon the most. Top level Taekwondo athletes will train all three to be able to keep going for longer and reduce fatigue.

For a Taekwondo athlete it is important to train these mechanisms through a series of general and specific cardiovascular intervals. Timing, intensity, rest periods and specifity of the exercises are crucial for optimal results in these intervals. How to do this and with what training methodologies will be covered in future articles.

Check out Taekwondo Conditioning & The Law of Specifity – Step Away From The Treadmill! for ways you should avoid to train.

Please let me know what you thought of the article in the comments box and if there’s anything in particular you want to know, feel free to include that too. 😉

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