Training the Energy Systems used in Football

When considering an Athlete’s energy systems, there are three methods the body uses to produce Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s main energy source on the cellular level. Each method is “selected” in accord with the cell’s demand for ATP.

When conditioning for Football, it is of paramount importance to consider the body’s appropriate energy system.

For training purposes, let’s assume the average length of a football play is 6 to 10 seconds. There is some variability with running plays, often covering less than two yards, lasting ~3 seconds long. Big gain plays can last up to ~10 seconds.

Let’s further assume the average rest in-between plays is ~35 seconds.

Please watch the following short training video:

The ATP-PC system (Phosphogen system) is used for very short durations of up to ~10 seconds. The ATP-PC system neither uses oxygen nor produces lactic acid if oxygen is unavailable. Therefore this system is said to be alactic anaerobic. This is the primary system behind very short, powerful movements like the average football play.

Therefore, when training football players, it makes the most sense to condition the ATP-PC system (the alactic anaerobic system).

Many of the conventional/popular football conditioning exercises (Gassers/”Belly Busters,” 110s, and 300-yard shuttles – all defined below), do not fall into the ATP-PC system because they last over 15 seconds and up to 1 minute.

Here is the training sequence depicted in the video and geared toward ATP-PC system training:

Estimated total elapsed time = ~10 seconds (conditioning the alactic anaerobic system)

Joe DeFranco (DeFranco’s Training Systems LLC) wrote an excellent article that furthers discussion on this topic: FOOTBALL CONDITIONING: The RIGHT Way!

Referenced Conditioning Drills Defined:

Gasser – Starting on one sideline of a football field an athlete will sprint across the field to the opposite sideline, turn and sprint back to the sideline, plant and sprint to the sideline, plant and sprint back to the sideline. Sideline to sideline is 53 yards. 1 full gasser will constitute four trips sideline to sideline for a total of 212 yards.

110s – 110 Yard Sprints

300-yard shuttles – marker cones and lines are placed 25 yards apart to indicate the sprint distance. Start with a foot on one line. When instructed by the timer, the player runs to the opposite 25-yard line, touches it with their foot, turns and run back to the start. This is repeated six times without stopping (covering 300 yards total). After a rest of five minutes, the test is repeated.


Training the Energy Systems used in Football

ATP-PC Energy System Conditioning

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