Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During exercise, your body relies on 3 basic Energy Systems. Human Performance will reach its highest potential when these 3 systems are developed properly.
The Anaerobic A-lactic/Phospho-creatine System (1) is most used when Maximum Effort Actions are performed. The Anaerobic lactic/Glycolytic System (2) is primarily used when near Maximum Effort occurs until fatigue. The Aerobic/Oxidative System (3) dominates during long slow effort actions. When these 3 Systems are developed properly, Human Performance will reach its highest possible level.
Think about it this way, if you made a fire to burn newspaper it would create a large flame, but the newspaper would burn quickly. This scenario is similar to the Anaerobic A-lactic System! This system is extremely powerful, but not long lasting (<30sec). The A-lactic System takes the longest time to recover or recharge to 100%. In fact, Olympic athlete, Usain Bolt, utilizes this system when sprinting the 100-meter dash!
The Anaerobic Lactic System mimics burning sticks in a fire. The sticks will burn slower than the newspaper, but still relatively quickly. Imagine sprinting as fast as you can for three minutes strait, until you can't feel your legs. This Lactic System is powerful and will last until fatigue (30s - 3min). Activating the Anaerobic Lactic System causes the burning sensation after an all effort activity.
Adding a log to a fire would closely represent the Aerobic/Oxidative System. This system lasts for an extended duration (3min - forever). The Oxidative System is not powerful, but is very long lasting. The Oxidative System operates at its highest level during Cross Country Skiing and Long distance Biking.
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