Development of the Alactic System II- Alactic Power

In the previous post, there was some background provided on the topic of training  the alactic system. It is recommended that you read that post, along with some of the other posts that are linked to that post if you are unfamiliar with the basics of this topic. This post will apply the information to how to develop power of the alactic system, which is important in any sport where the training speed and power elements is necessary in an athlete’s physical development.

Before getting into developing power of the alactic system, one needs to look at the difference between developing the capacity a systems versus power. Verkhoshansky (2011, pg 164) defined power and capacity as:

Power- the quantity of energy produced in a time unit
Capacity- total quantity of energy produced

So simply put, power looks at the rate in which one produces energy. This is an area of neglect by sport coaches by virtue of the “conditioning” that gets implemented both during the in-season and, by virtue of what the athletes get exposed to in-season, what the athletes either look to focus on with their off-season training (if not given any guidance, or by what the sport coach tells them to do).  Reproducing an effort time and time again means nothing if the individual efforts don’t achieve the necessary production (for example, producing enough force).  Therefore, it is necessary to address this area of preparation by producing maximal efforts with appropriate rest periods and volumes of work to achieve this goal.

This now comes back to speed and power development for athletes.  The following is an example of a sprinting protocol that could be utilized to improve speed/power in an athlete:

Set 1

3 X 10 yard sprints ( 1 minute rest between reps) Rest 3 minutes

Set 2

2 X 20 yard sprints (2 minute rest between reps)

This is a basic example that can be used to address speed for cyclic athletes, or can be used as a general means of improving force production for some athletes whose sport or activity does not involve linear running.  Over the course of a few weeks, sprints can be added to the overall volume (the key would be to make sure that speed does not drop off with later repetitions).  Addressing this type of preparation may also be performed through other means as well (i.e. jump training).  It is important that individuals in athletic endeavors appropriately address physical preparation though means most important for their sport.  Addressing this aspect of training is very important to sports where power development is necessary to enhance performance.

References & Recommended Readings

Verkshoshansky, Y.  Verkhoshansky, N.  (2011).  Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches.  Rome, Italy: Verkhoshansky SSTM.

Development of the Alactic System

Training for sport and recent general fitness trends has placed a great emphasis on high-intensity conditioning focusing on the glycolytic system.  This intermediate energy system training typically involves medium duration work bouts (20-60 seconds) with incomplete recoveries (work periods may be shorter based on recovery periods and still quality for this type of training).  Training in this manner accumulates a great deal of fatigue, and while it may have its place in training, it is not warranted in training all athletes, or in the training of individuals interested in general fitness.

In a past post I wrote briefly on the three energy systems, and gave examples of how a properly developed aerobic system (not trained through slow, long-duration efforts) can go a long way in many athletic endeavors (also see post for combat athletes here).  Athletes in many sports have an alactic system that is not developed due to overemphasis on long-duration aerobic training, and glycolytic training utilized by most sport coaches.  Many times athletes in sports such as football, basketball, field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse, spend too much time and emphasis in training (particularly during in-season)  on running drills that emphasize activity carried out in this fashion.  Examples of lactic based conditioning sessions include the 300 yard shuttle in football, and 17’s and suicides in basketball.  This not only limits an athlete’s speed potential, but also causes a shift in how energy is used to display efforts during activity.

Sprinting for speed development should be the focus in the training of most team sport athletes (Smith, 2006).  Proper attention should be placed on both the development of acceleration and top speed acquisition.  It is important when doing this that both sprint mechanics are addressed, and that proper work:rest ratios are utilized in speed development.  Emphasis on speed development (alactic power) should focus on the quality and not the quantity of work; too many times training for speed ends up becoming a metabolic conditioning session (and typically becomes glycolytic).  Training in this manner is not only stressful, but ends up occurring at speeds too slow for true speed development (Francis, 1992).

Emphasizing alactic power development via sprints for non-track athletes can have a significant impact on their performance.  A follow-up post will give examples of how this concept can be applied in training.


Smith, James.  Speed Training Considerations for Non-Track Athletes: The Development of Speed Throughout the Annual Plan.  2006.

Francis, Charlie.  The Charlie Francis Training System.  Kindle Edition.  2012.

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