Taekwondo And Energy System – The ATP-PCr System

Tae Kwon Do Energy SystemsIn the previous article we learned about Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) the body’s “energy currency” and how the body uses certain sources to replenish this.In this article we will look at how ATP is actually produced by the body and how this is important for Taekwondo.

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.

As previously mentioned ATP and creatine phosphate (also called Phosphocreatine or PCr) is used to make up the ATP-PCr energy system. PCr is broken down releasing a phosphate molecule and energy, which is then used to rebuild ATP. ATP is rebuilt by adding a phosphate molecule to ADP in a process called phosphorylation.

The enzyme that controls the break down of PCr is called creatine kinase. The ATP-PCr energy system can operate with or without oxygen but because it doesn’t rely on the presence of oxygen it said to be anaerobic.

So I know what you are all thinking… What the hell does this mean and how is it useful to a Taekwondo athlete/coach?

During the first 5 seconds of exercise regardless of intensity, the ATP stored naturally within the body is relied on almost exclusively. ATP concentrations last only a few seconds with PCr buffering the drop in ATP for another 5-8 seconds or so. Combined, the ATP-PCr system can sustain all-out exercise for 3-15 seconds and it is during this time that the potential rate for power output is at its greatest. If activity continues beyond this immediate period, the body must then rely on the Glycolytic system to reproduce ATP.

So put simply 3 to 15 seconds bursts of activity within a Taekwondo round relies on the ATP-PCr system and it is important that a Taekwondo athlete trains this effectively in order to meet the energy demands of a Taekwondo match. How to do this and with what training methodologies will be covered in future articles.

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.

2 thoughts on “Taekwondo And Energy System – The ATP-PCr System

  1. Tim

    We are doing an assignment on this at school. How do I use this knowledge to improve my performance at taekwondo?

    1. David

      Hi Tim,

      Sure, you can use this info. All that we ask is that you credit TheTaekwondoCoach.com as your source.


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