Training Glycolytic system

Discussion in 'Other' started by Dryster, Feb 12, 2019 at 5:05 AM.

  1. Dryster

    Dryster My Third Post

    Hi - new to the forum, and hoping for some help.

    I've been looking for ways to train the glycolytic system and came across this excellent thread...

    What type of activity makes the most use of the glycolytic system?

    ...which essentially said not to bother, and that it could actually be harmful!

    A lot of the info in the thread goes over my head, and I wanted to know what sort of harm it does, and how frequently I can try and do glycolytic training without doing harm.
  2. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    I think that before anyone here can meaningfully answer your questions, we need some more information to go on.

    Like your personal details.. age, weight, medical issues, injury history, etc. What your training history is, sports played, and most importantly why you are training and what your training goals are.

    Steve Freides likes this.
  3. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    You have to do a lot of metcon type activity or a high volume of above aerobic threshold running etc to cause any harm. The real harm is that you might be wasting your training time if you aren't clear about why you're training in the middle zone instead of at the outer edges.

    The respective weights/pacing you use in this zone are not the best to improve your limit strength or base endurance. But, longer time under load with heavy weights is a solid plan if you're looking to gain size. Doing higher intensity intervals is proven to provide some very strong improvements to mitochondrial and capillary density, as well as improved ability to burn pyruvate (carbs) for energy. This translates into faster energy throughput for high intensity endurance work. But it is not the best range to improve heart stroke volume and there is a limit to the capillary and mitochondrial improvements you will get without accumulating more traditional slow paced aerobic training time.

    The real issue arises when one does a ton of work in this zone and either expects improvements that aren't going to happen, or overdoes it and the body fails to recover between sessions.

    In isolation, mitochondria can withstand acid loads that would kill a person outright, so there is no medical danger unless a person has a metabolic disorder or is working outside the limits of a sane amount of exercise. The question then becomes what sort of glycolytic training and how much to get a good response.

    For building size a person will do well to include some longer time under tension work with the heaviest loads they can use and still get to 45-60 seconds. It doesn't take a lot of this, maybe 20 - 30% of total working volume. For improving top end stamina, again a volume of 20% of total is about right.

    Training the glycolytic pathway is no different than training the phosphagen and lipid pathways, have a plan and a reason instead of just chasing a burn and sweat.

    BTW, welcome to the forum!
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Dryster, the traditional form of training the glycolytic energy system is to use it and, over time, increase your ability to use it. The principle is the same as for any other sort of training - use it moderately and, over time, hope to get better at using it.

    It's not that you don't want to use your glycolytic energy system, because that's impossible, but rather that you want to minimize the use of it for most of your training. If you are, say, competing at a triathlon, then ramp up using it as you approach the competition in which you'll be required to use it.

    As others have said, the important thing is to focus on the best way to achieve a specific goal - what is that goal for you?

  5. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    These guys above me have hit the nail on the head, but glycolytic training is not villified, just overused. It seems to have greater cost to the body. Use your money wisely and you will be fine. Knowing your goals will help us help you spend your money!
    vegpedlr likes this.
  6. vegpedlr

    vegpedlr More than 500 posts

    Overtraining. It requires a level of effort that is fun for a lot of people where they feel like they “got a good workout.” For some, it seems mildly addictive, like the CF zombies that only come alive for their WOD, or endurance athletes that smash themselves with intervals until the wheels come off.

    There’s a time and a place, like fire, beneficial, but don’t play with it.
  7. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Furthering on the goal you train for:
    if for a sport that requires repeat sprint recovery ability then a variety of sport specific density training will meet those needs. If your sport demands the glycolytic system and your activity is not dependent on quick recovery - use very long rests. The former more capacity, the latter more power. A very simplistic view, the lines do blur at times. With whatever approach, the mutli-faceted fatigue equation and total stress on your system governs your ability to recover from whatever the training stimulus happens to be. Training history, age, current life stressors all need to be factored which will dictate, to a lesser or greater extent, the volume.
    Your personal idea of where the line is between health and performance is another one. That's always a toughie.
    You certainly do not need to go hard and fast for health and to some extent nor do you need to go hard and fast for performance either, especially if your health suffers and you get sick or injured. @vegpedlr , point above thrashing yourself to bits for different reasons but similar outcomes. Spending too long, too often burning out your system is something to avoid obviously but training needn't be like that, at all.
    Sure you'll find some good options - one is to take long rests. That may or may not be appropriate for you though!
  8. Dryster

    Dryster My Third Post

    Thanks for the warm welcome, and the insane level of detail in the replies - in terms of those posts that have asked questions...

    • age - 39
    • weight - 97.5kgs
    • medical issues - just had a steroid injection in one shoulder to treat an impingement - currently I'm doing some physio-prescribed exercises to try and resolve that
    • injury history, etc. - tore a rotator cuff about 15 years ago which took a long to (never really) heal
    • What your training history is, sports played - Nothing until approx 18, then weights, then 5 years of relatively intense rowing (5/6 days training a week), then a couple of years of Crossfit and triathlons, then nothing until about 18 months ago, when I started back at a gym. I have 30 mins to workout each weekday, and I run about 10km each Saturday. Gym sessions are a 28 day rotation through a variety of workouts - generally 5 mins on a crosstrainer to warm- up followed by for example, 5k row, or a HIIT rowing session, or weights leading up to a 1rm attempt in something (Deadlift, Squat, Benchpress, Shoulder Press etc) - that sort of thing.
    • ...and most importantly why you are training and what your training goals are - to get fitter generally; to retain muscle while a diet of moderately reduced calories hopefully means I lose some bodyfat; to be able to lead a more active lifestyle and enjoy playing with my children.

    Thanks a lot for all that info - I'm going to have to go away and read that in more detail.

    Thanks, that's useful.

    No particular goal - just all-round fitness - it's fair to say that I don't want to neglect any particular aspect of my fitness.

    Thanks a lot for the info. I train to try and improve my maximum lifts, and I train a bit of long distance rowing and running, and so I feel like I'm missing the middle...
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    I don't believe that constitutes a good plan. He who tries to master everything ends up mastering nothing.

    You don't need to train your glycolytic energy system unless you have a specific reason to. But Kettlebell Simple and Sinister _will_ train your glycolytic energy system somewhat. Sets of 10 can do that.

  10. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    As Steve said, S&S is a good fit. Once upto regular use of the 32 (or is it 24, can't remember) there is an added continuous session which goes into glycolysis a little bit more than the day to day training norm. So that's one session every 2 weeks - so there is a good guide as to what is considered an appropriate dosage with regards to the loading and the base you have built.
    Check out @HaroldMotz (hope that worked for some reason the auto name thing didn't offer itself) who has done a fair share of A&A (on the back of S&S) work and rows for some inspiration.
  11. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Ever hear the story of the 3 little pigs. The energy systems are kind of like the houses they build. Oxidative would be the brick house as it supplies the most energy for the most part of your life and restores the other energy systems and recovery ability. The glycolytic system is like the house built of sticks and provides a pretty solid house but with more architectural constraints than the brick house. The phosphogen system is like the house built of straw - hard to get standing and quick to burn.

    The problem, as I see it, is when a person tries to build a house of sticks too tall like the game Jenga. A single story stick house is fine but starts to become unstable when built higher than the sticks can support. When a big bad wolf (untrained life event) comes and huffs and puffs, the sticks cannot support their own weight and end up even easier to blow down.

    It makes the body a little overconfident like a teenager - knows enough to make a lot of good choices but doesn't know enough to know when it's a bad choice.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019 at 1:25 PM
  12. vegpedlr

    vegpedlr More than 500 posts

    +1 to what Steve said. Why bother with glycolytic training at all? IMO, that sort of training is sport or task dependent. Best to use the sport for that, like endurance athletes ramping up interval training. For general health and fitness, I think it safest nd best to focus on the ends of the spectrum, strength and low intensity aerobic fitness. Then if a particular challenge or goal shows up, you have a great base to build from.
  13. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I see glycolysis as the middle man, a spiv salesman chasing a quick deal. The middle man may short change you, giving you a quick sale that more often than not gives you a feeling that you've been ripped off: full of promise, that holiday of a lifetime, the ideal mortgage for you but really you were sold an illusion. But now and then you come across a middle man that knows the market really, really well and gives you exactly what you need at the right time, saving you time and money and providing a service that you wouldn't have access to on your own.
    You can cut out the middle man and do rather well as it turns out but sometimes you need a specialist and it is a worthwhile investment. You don't need a specialist for general strength, power and health but when you need or want a little something, a middle man is very handy to have on speed dial when you want the best deal available but it is too costly to use all the time. So if you are, better to negotiate a deal - time limit the arrangement, use sparingly to avoid paying too much in handling fees and leave suitable periods between each exchange to manage your budget.
    fractal and vegpedlr like this.
  14. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Pavel, @Al Ciampa, @CMarker and I think others as well have written this extensively - search the articles here.

  15. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    I 'know' a guy...
    ali likes this.
  16. Dryster

    Dryster My Third Post

    Thanks - I don't want to be the best lifter, or the best marathon runner, but I'd like to be able to be able to put in a respectable performance in each.

    As I said in the OP - possibly best not to bother! It just seems to me like lots of functional fitness - being able to play around with my children, doing the occasionally obstacle course race, etc call for - or benefit from - a decent glycolytic pathway performance.

    Sorry be a pain, but I'm finding my way around - can you point me in the right direction?

    All of this is really helpful, and it's gone from being the initial (small) question, to a feeling here that I might need to re-evaluate and overhaul my entire fitness "program" - is there somewhere I can post my existing program, what I like about it, what I'm trying to achieve - and then get feedback and help? It is a 28 day cyclical set of workouts. I don't want to derail this thread.
  17. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Staff Member Senior Instructor

    @Dryster, I prefer using Google to search our web site and forum. Go to Google and enter this into the search window:


    You may also substitute other relevant terms, e.g., anti-glycolytic, glycolysis, AGT, energy systems, etc. Plug in each term, add "site:strongfirstcom" to the end of your search. If you wish only to search the forum, use

    There is also a search function built into our forum - it works differently, and you might try it as well.

    At StrongFirst, our approach is to focus intensely on a few, well-chosen strength and conditioning movements that have been shown to have a wide carryover to other activities, including sports and other lifts. We go into great depth on each movement we practice. As a personal example, I can do a few things on the rings now, enough that someone local to me, who had been a gymnast and whose children now train gymnastics, watched a video of mine and asked me if I had been a gymnast. Heck, no, but my "skills," such as they are, have been developed by just one or two reps of things every other day or so, what we call "variety" training around here. The point is that my strength was already there from the simple programs I follow. My current program is barbell deadlifts and one-arm pushups.

    It sounds like your questions and the answers you've received here have gotten you thinking - that's great. Welcome to StrongFirst.

    fractal likes this.

Share This Page