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Old 11-27-2010, 06:34 PM   #1
vonLPC
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Default Aerobic Energy System


I by no means am an expert, but feel have a good working knowledge of energy systems and their usefulness in terms of sport conditioning. It seems there is a lot of misinformation regarding this topic. Given this, I wanted to dispel some myths regarding the aerobic energy system and the proper way for a boxer to train the aerobic energy system. Given this please know that this excludes the ability to relax, breathe, etc. in the ring and is a SUPPLEMENT, not substitute, for boxing training.
In addition, I want to apologize for the long-winded explanations, but feel this topic (which keeps coming up in one way or the other) deserves attention. I hope this is viewed as a way to help forum members and nothing more.

The 3 energy systems

1) The anaerobic system- can supply energy for 10-12 seconds typically and has very little potential for improving. Production of energy through anaerobic metabolism is far more limited and rapidly fatiguing. Examples of athletes relying solely from this system are Olympic weighlifters, 100m sprinters, shot putters, long jumpers, etc.
2) The anaerobic-lactic system is typically 30-90 seconds. Athletes that need high development in this system are Strongman competitors, 400-800m runners, etc.
3) The aerobic system can supply energy for hours.
Boxing is an aerobic-anaerobic energy sport and requires something called Speed-strength, meaning the ability to move a light object very quickly. In this case it is a glove. However, I advocate for strength training regardless but that it is not what this post is about.
Aerobic/Oxidative Energy System

The aerobic system can be thought of as the power plant that supplies energy to all the other processes as it pertains to the sport of Boxing.
The more you use your anaerobic systems, the more metabolic byproducts you produce, thus leading to faster fatigue. It is aerobic processes that your body relies on to a) clear out and b) restore the mechanism of anaerobic metabolism. Thus, if you have a poorly developed aerobic system, your body’s anaerobic abilities are limited because it takes longer to produce energy again. Therefore, the better one’s aerobic power, the better the anaerobic systems can recharge to throw that powerful knockout blow/flurry when needed, even in the middle or later rounds. Regardless of how hard one hits, if they have a poorly developed aerobic system, they will not have the energy to use that knockout power outside of a couple of rounds.
The biggest difficulties that people have are the ways to train and increase the ability of the aerobic system. These strategies I have read and then done myself, with great results. Under no circumstances have I invented any of these, or the concept of using them in boxing. It has however always been important for me to understand the underlying science behind something, and not to “just drink” the latest fad “kool aid.”
To do this training, it is important, I believe, to have a heart rate monitor. Certain training strategies require the heart rate to be within certain ranges. In doing these strategies, it is not important to use every piece of apparatus under the sun. The key is to train to get the appropriate adaptations.

Long Slow Distance Training

The debate over long slow distance(LSD) training and its efficiency has been explored over and over, not only on this forum, but in general. Many myths surround this type of training such as it will make you slow and that you can get the same type of adaptations in doing this type of training by doing high intensity intervals. Neither of these are true, and the only way that training LSD will make you “slow” is if this is all you ever do. The “nature” of boxing training will simply not allow this to happen. LSD training is a very effective method for improving how much blood your heart can pump with each beat. This strategy works to increase the volume of blood pumped out with each beat by increasing the size of the left ventricle of the heart.
Through training, the heart adapts to this stimulus by stretching and thus the left ventricle can pump more blood with each beat, known as eccentric cardiac hypertrophy. This results in a lower resting heart rate, lower working heart rates, and greater cardiac efficiency. Obviously the less work your heart has to do to pump blood, the better your aerobic energy production will be because more oxygen can get to your muscles. This means better recuperation in between rounds, after flurries, and better longevity later into the fight. Higher intensity methods lead to a different cardiac adaptation known as concentric hypertrophy.
This training strategy is very simple, but typically the longer you do it, the better. 30 minutes are good, but 45-90 minutes is better to provide the appropriate adaptation. Heart rate(HR) should be between 130-150 beats per minute(bpm) and should be done 3 times a week. Once the heart rate gets above around 150bpm, the contractions become too fast to be enough time for the heart chamber to fill with blood and the adaptations do not occur. Swimming, biking, bag work, jogging, etc. can be used.
In addition to the benefits I mentioned before, if one has a Resting Heart Rate(RHR) in the 60s or higher, or if coming back from a layoff, this is what one should start with. I have a testimony of the effectiveness of this very simple training strategy. Of course, this is how the old school fighters trained and some still do. While they were not privy to this knowledge, it works, plain and simple.

Intervals

Maximal effort for 10-12 seconds, rest to heart rate of around 130-135bpm. Reps should be between 12-20. Of course there are several ways to do intervals, but if one alters the work time or rest time, you are not going to get the same adaptations. Using this training will improve the oxidative abilities of the fast twitch muscle fibers.

Threshold Training

To use this, one must know their Anaerobic Threshold(AT). AT is exactly as it sounds. It is the point of maximum power output that the aerobic system can use. To determine your AT accurately is difficult unless you have access to expensive testing. Most AT are in the upper 160s-170bpm.
One easy way to get a general idea is the Coopers Test. Go to a track and run for 12 minutes as fast as possible, measuring your average heart rate and the distance you cover. That can give you some indication of your speed and AT for later measuring when using this training strategy. However, I use this number and do my threshold training on the heavy bag. While I do not count punches, thus having no distinctive way to measure progress, the improvements should happen if you are pushing yourself. While the actual ability to increase your AT heart rate significantly is difficult due to it being largely genetically influenced, the goal is to increase your power output at AT. To use this strategy on the bag, do 2 x 10 minute rounds, 4 x 5, 3 x 7, etc. 1-2 times per week. The work should be done at or 5 bpm below AT. If you are sparring hard, you should use this strategy very sparingly due to the taxing and grueling nature of it. In addition if you are sparring hard, you may be doing this type of training without knowing it.
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:35 PM   #2
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Muscle Fiber Training

This is another very misunderstood concept, but is important to boxing. Training the muscle fibers does not effect the cardiovascular system like the methods above, but in the oxygen utilization within the muscles themselves. To simplify it, there are two types of fibers, slow(Type I) and fast (Type II) twitch. Fast use both aerobic and anaerobic energy for ATP, but slow twitch, rely on oxygen and the aerobic system. One question may be why would a boxer want to train Type I fibers that are slower and less powerful? Slow twitch fibers indirectly improve the endurance ability of the fast twitch fibers by preventing fatigue from anaerobic metabolism and it is in these fibers that lactate get oxidized. Simply put, training the type I fibers will help the type II fibers maintain power for longer periods of time.
There are two ways I know of to train this. 1) High reps/high sets 15-20. The second is time under tension, with no pausing at the top or bottom of the movement. For example, a back squat or pushup for 2 seconds positive and 2 seconds negative with no pause at top or bottom of the movement. You should do 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps, or 32-40 secs. Begin with 50 seconds rest between sets and decrease weekly, two times week.
My suggestion would be to train this for 3-4 weeks and then move to training the Type II fibers. Examples of training these Type II fibers would be dumbbell jump ˝ squats, bounds, plyo push ups, etc. at maximal effort for 10-12 seconds. Each week decrease rest and increase work time, but work time on these should not go over 15 seconds.
You will want to start with your least taxing training methods, and stick with them as long as you continue to progress. Once this stalls, then you should move to other more intense methods. If you like me box 4 times a week, but also work, have children, etc. 3 times week of conditioning is plenty. Typically you will want to train a specific energy system for at least 6 and up to 9 or 10 weeks to ensure the stability of the adaptations.
Again I do apologize for being long winded and hope that this does not appear as me wanting to throw around big words, but give functional advice and debunk some myths that come up what seems to be several times a week on the forum.
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: Aerobic Energy System

Id just like to add that your boxing training also counts as training for the energy systems so if you ran or conditioned 3 times a week and boxed 4 times a week then that adds up to training your systems 7 times a week. Its not just the dedicated (aerobic/anaerobic) sessions that are counted.
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Old 11-30-2010, 06:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Aerobic Energy System

Amazing article, cheers for this.. might have to read it again so i understand it all.

So your saying:
low intensity aerobic training 3 times a week
and
high intensity, anaerobic threshold/muscle fibre training 3 times a week?


edit - didnt read the above post my bad
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Aerobic Energy System

very, very nice post.

What would be the 'ideal' training split? Could you train 3 days aerobic and 3 days interval style/strength training. For 6 days a week with 1 rest.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:10 PM   #6
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I think after reading your post, my main weakness is the muscle fiber type training. I know when I am sparring, my shoulders always fatigue before my lungs or legs do. I use a regular guard, and I dont carry it high when out of range... but after 3-4 rounds, the fatigue always sets in. Same with bag work...
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Aerobic Energy System

Quote:
Originally Posted by bck620 View Post
I think after reading your post, my main weakness is the muscle fiber type training. I know when I am sparring, my shoulders always fatigue before my lungs or legs do. I use a regular guard, and I dont carry it high when out of range... but after 3-4 rounds, the fatigue always sets in. Same with bag work...
Sounds like no muscle endurance?

Might be miles out though....
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:21 PM   #8
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^ I know that's it. I have improved lot, but I feel I have hit a plateau. I do things like bag work with weighted gloves, med ball throws, even shadowboxing with light dumbells... It's frusterating since my legs and lungs usually feel fine.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bck620 View Post
very, very nice post.

What would be the 'ideal' training split? Could you train 3 days aerobic and 3 days interval style/strength training. For 6 days a week with 1 rest.
It is very difficult, UNLESS you are a beginner, to improve the aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time. To improve the aerobic system, you would train 3 days using aerobic methods, in addition to boxing. If one does not box, 5 days would be needed to make the appropriate aerobic adaptations. Your best bet with strength training is 1 day a week, 1-2 sets of 5 reps. Pick 3 compound lifts, such as squat, bench, deadlift/clean, etc. Anything more would be too taxing. The goal if you are trying to improve cardiovascular conditioning is to train for maintenance in strength. if the goal is to improve strength, train strength 3 x week and cardiovascular maintenance using the LSD method 1-2 x week.

You would want to stay in a particular training cycle as I said for 6-10 weeks, utilizing more intense strategies such as intervals or threshold training toward the end of the cycle. Hope this makes sense. Glad you guys enjoyed the article.
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:28 PM   #10
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Decent general guide to what's what for a beginner but I totally disagree with the training ideas. The emphasis on LSD is a waste of time. Once a week should be sufficient. Interval training shouldn't just be employed the way you prescribed. Interval training can be used to improve any of the energy systems. Lactate tolerance and Lactate threshold training should be focused on for a boxer. Interval training can improve the anaerobic and aerobic systems at the same time regardless of training experience. Focusing on training different muscle fibres specifically is ridiculous, if you follow a well rounded training program and focus on your sport you're training the muscle fibres you want. Remember that most people here are amateur boxers, the advice you are giving for some things is very specific and in my opinion not the optimal way to train. People are put together differently so people get different results from different things but everybody just wants to be told exactly what to do. It doesn't work like that, people need to understand some basic principles and experiment with themselves.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty View Post
Decent general guide to what's what for a beginner but I totally disagree with the training ideas. The emphasis on LSD is a waste of time. Once a week should be sufficient. Interval training shouldn't just be employed the way you prescribed. Interval training can be used to improve any of the energy systems. Lactate tolerance and Lactate threshold training should be focused on for a boxer. Interval training can improve the anaerobic and aerobic systems at the same time regardless of training experience. Focusing on training different muscle fibres specifically is ridiculous, if you follow a well rounded training program and focus on your sport you're training the muscle fibres you want. Remember that most people here are amateur boxers, the advice you are giving for some things is very specific and in my opinion not the optimal way to train. People are put together differently so people get different results from different things but everybody just wants to be told exactly what to do. It doesn't work like that, people need to understand some basic principles and experiment with themselves.
Lefty,

I agree with you that there is no one size fits all and that we are all put together differently. The idea was for those reading it would be able to use this to a)assess the weaknesses they have in this particular energy system and b) use the strategies to improve them. You are right. For those that are amateur boxers, this is not the optimal way to train.

If you look at my post on intervals, I stated that it improves the oxidative abilities of the fast twitch fibers. In the muscle fibres portion of my post, I stated that improving the fast twitch fibres use both aerobic and anaerobic energy for ATP, thus you would be improving both energy systems. Also, training the fast twitch fibers the way I outlined in the muscle fibers section can be seen as a form of interval training. I realize that I posted again that one shouldn't expect to see improvements in both unless you are relatively new to training, but yes, intervals do improve both, which I tried to convey.

In the post I stated that IF you have a resting heart rate of 60 or better or are coming off a layoff, to start with this method. I put this amount of emphasis on LSD training because it has SOME very good benefits that one cannot achieve from other training modalities. In addition, it is a post that comes up 3 x per week and I wanted to explain it in depth for that reason. However it is not the end all be all.

As far as if one is an amateur boxer, then yeah, you are right. One would focus more on the lactic system. I agree completely. In addition, training the slow twitch fibers would not be necessary for amateur boxing to the extent it would if one was sparring or fighting 3 minute rounds continuously. I was thinking in terms of 4,6, etc 3 minute rounds of boxing, not 3 x 2 amateur. I should have maybe clarified that in the very beginning. However, training these two types of muscle fibers how I outlined would be optimal I feel for a boxer who has a longer fight.

Lactate threshold and anaerobic threshold I have heard be used interchangeably in most debates and in many sports articles. However, some discuss this in different terms. If you are using this term in regards to the point where lactate is produced faster than metabolized, then that is why I wrote about threshold training, which is designed to improve output at the point right before where the body begins using anaerobic energy.

I appreciate your feedback and while I know that what I wrote is correct and are some of the best ways to improve the aerobic energy system, I may not have taken into consideration that most are competing in amateur boxing, thus shifting necessary energy systems.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:35 AM   #12
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Lefty,

I agree with you that there is no one size fits all and that we are all put together differently. The idea was for those reading it would be able to use this to a)assess the weaknesses they have in this particular energy system and b) use the strategies to improve them. You are right. For those that are amateur boxers, this is not the optimal way to train.

If you look at my post on intervals, I stated that it improves the oxidative abilities of the fast twitch fibers. In the muscle fibres portion of my post, I stated that improving the fast twitch fibres use both aerobic and anaerobic energy for ATP, thus you would be improving both energy systems. Also, training the fast twitch fibers the way I outlined in the muscle fibers section can be seen as a form of interval training. I realize that I posted again that one shouldn't expect to see improvements in both unless you are relatively new to training, but yes, intervals do improve both, which I tried to convey.

In the post I stated that IF you have a resting heart rate of 60 or better or are coming off a layoff, to start with this method. I put this amount of emphasis on LSD training because it has SOME very good benefits that one cannot achieve from other training modalities. In addition, it is a post that comes up 3 x per week and I wanted to explain it in depth for that reason. However it is not the end all be all.

As far as if one is an amateur boxer, then yeah, you are right. One would focus more on the lactic system. I agree completely. In addition, training the slow twitch fibers would not be necessary for amateur boxing to the extent it would if one was sparring or fighting 3 minute rounds continuously. I was thinking in terms of 4,6, etc 3 minute rounds of boxing, not 3 x 2 amateur. I should have maybe clarified that in the very beginning. However, training these two types of muscle fibers how I outlined would be optimal I feel for a boxer who has a longer fight.

Lactate threshold and anaerobic threshold I have heard be used interchangeably in most debates and in many sports articles. However, some discuss this in different terms. If you are using this term in regards to the point where lactate is produced faster than metabolized, then that is why I wrote about threshold training, which is designed to improve output at the point right before where the body begins using anaerobic energy.

I appreciate your feedback and while I know that what I wrote is correct and are some of the best ways to improve the aerobic energy system, I may not have taken into consideration that most are competing in amateur boxing, thus shifting necessary energy systems.
Thanks for taking the time to clear that up. Still I maintain that focusing on training different muscle fibre types is a waste of time, it's a genetic thing that is altered a bit by how you train. There's no point in doing it because it happens as a result of your training. You train for your sport and your body will adapt to what you need for your sport. It's a waste of time even thinking about fibre types in my opinion, if you have a holistic approach towards training and the majority of your training is at a similar intensity and volume as what your sport involves then you have no worries.
The only benefit I can think of exclusively from LSD training is for recovery purposes from more intense exercise. LSD has an effect on mitochondria biogenesis but not on stroke volume or VO2max. In my opinion you are going to get alot more value for your time by focusing on interval training for the aerobic system, you are going to get more positive physiological adaptions in far less time.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lefty View Post
Thanks for taking the time to clear that up. Still I maintain that focusing on training different muscle fibre types is a waste of time, it's a genetic thing that is altered a bit by how you train. There's no point in doing it because it happens as a result of your training. You train for your sport and your body will adapt to what you need for your sport. It's a waste of time even thinking about fibre types in my opinion, if you have a holistic approach towards training and the majority of your training is at a similar intensity and volume as what your sport involves then you have no worries.
The only benefit I can think of exclusively from LSD training is for recovery purposes from more intense exercise. LSD has an effect on mitochondria biogenesis but not on stroke volume or VO2max. In my opinion you are going to get alot more value for your time by focusing on interval training for the aerobic system, you are going to get more positive physiological adaptions in far less time.
Von/ Lefty,

As always guys just slightly too scientific for me two skim read but from personal experience in the ring, I have to go with Lefty on this. I used to do loads of fairly high intensity runs 45 mins to an hour plus. But if you look at my fights I was taking a runners body into the ring with me.

I've trained the way I train now to high intensity, short duration stuff and the difference is unbelievable. I feel no where near as fatigued as I used toduring rounds and I'm able to punch harder, stronger and quicker.

It wasn't even Long Slow work.... it was long quick - but no matter what your only going to be able to generate so much intensity over that king of duration.

Everything I do now is based around intensity and my body has adapted as such- to a point where i'm having to double wrap my hands etc,

My theory, and it could be wrong... is that when i'm warming up, practising skills or movement i'm working aerobically (almost lsd) but in a way very specific to boxing. Every session I do I include at least 3 flat out- killer rounds (I'll add more as I work towards my target date) this way i'm hitting the energy systems I need to use when i'm fighting.

All that LSD work is largely unessasary as you do all that when your warming up or practising skills. I've taken running largely out of my programme now... I do sprints up to 400m and thats it and I've not suffered at all.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:26 AM   #14
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It's not that VonPLC is wrong about anything, it's just debatable about what is the optimal way to train. There is no one size fits all training prescription, that's the art, working out what is best for the individual. Good to have someone who knows what they are talking about around to discuss things
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:33 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by brown bomber View Post
Von/ Lefty,

As always guys just slightly too scientific for me two skim read but from personal experience in the ring, I have to go with Lefty on this. I used to do loads of fairly high intensity runs 45 mins to an hour plus. But if you look at my fights I was taking a runners body into the ring with me.

I've trained the way I train now to high intensity, short duration stuff and the difference is unbelievable. I feel no where near as fatigued as I used toduring rounds and I'm able to punch harder, stronger and quicker.

It wasn't even Long Slow work.... it was long quick - but no matter what your only going to be able to generate so much intensity over that king of duration.

Everything I do now is based around intensity and my body has adapted as such- to a point where i'm having to double wrap my hands etc,

My theory, and it could be wrong... is that when i'm warming up, practising skills or movement i'm working aerobically (almost lsd) but in a way very specific to boxing. Every session I do I include at least 3 flat out- killer rounds (I'll add more as I work towards my target date) this way i'm hitting the energy systems I need to use when i'm fighting.

All that LSD work is largely unessasary as you do all that when your warming up or practising skills. I've taken running largely out of my programme now... I do sprints up to 400m and thats it and I've not suffered at all.
Yeah that's pretty much how I look at the optimal way for a boxer to train. I reckon a LSD run on a day off can be a great thing for relaxing your mind and giving your body a 'flush out' if you know what I mean.
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