When training in Taekwondo, whether it is for recreation, health benefits or to reach the medal podium, every good coach knows that training should be effective. In order to know how to make your training more effective you need to have a very general understanding of basic exercise physiology.
There is a whole wealth of information in regards to exercise physiology via the web, media etc. but even the most basic info can be confusing. In this article we look at how the body creates energy for Taekwondo training and competition.
Energy is important for a whole host of bodily functions including growth and repair. However it is muscular contraction that is of most interest to the Taekwondo athlete/coach when we talk about the energy systems. Now most good coaches will know about this ‘magical’ compound found within the body that seems to be mentioned over and over again: Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP. For those of you who have never heard about this before or want a more basic understanding of ATP read on…
ATP is stored within the body naturally and is responsible for powering all muscular contractions, whether this be during a singular Taekwondo kick or a 26 mile marathon race. However the body only stores small amounts of this compound in the body – just enough for a few seconds of activity. ATP must be replaced on a constantly ongoing basis for the exercise to be prolonged. It’s replenished by a number of sources most notably: Creatine Phosphate (PCr), Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.
PCr is another substrate found within the body’s cells naturally which can be used to rapidly replenish ATP. However just like ATP, PCr runs out very quickly and body looks for the next available energy source which is carbohydrate. This is the idea behind using creatine as a sports supplement. Look at our Taekwondo Nutrition page for more details on this.
Carbohydrate is used by the muscles and the liver and converted into glycogen. Glycogen can then be used to form ATP and in the liver it is formed into glucose (the body’s natural sugar) and transported to the muscles via the blood stream (i.e. blood glucose levels). Carbohydrate releases energy much more quickly than proteins and fats.
Protein is used as a source of energy within the body mainly during prolonged activity. To put it simply protein is broken down into amino acids and then converted into glucose. Protein cannot supply energy to the muscles at the same rate as carbohydrates but is essential for muscle repair and maintenance and is an important recovery aid, especially during training phases of hypertrophy.
Fats are stored mainly in the adipose tissue throughout the body. The process of ‘breaking down’ fats to form into energy (ATP) is complex and the energy release is too slow for intense activity.
By looking at all of the previous information, this is why it is crucial for a Taekwondo athlete to have a good diet when competing and training to fuel the body efficiently and create more ATP for exercise. Look at our Taekwondo Nutrition page for more information on this.
In the next article we will examine the energy systems used during exercise to prolong certain intensities, specifically the energy systems that are important for Taekwondo.
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. 🙂