Aerobic vs anaerobic vs neuromuscular energy systems

Hi all

I’m still working backwards through the TR podcasts and I’m hearing a lot about aerobic, anaerobic, and neuromuscular energy systems. I am vaguely familiar with aerobic energy systems, in that your cells are using glucose stores as energy. But what about anaerobic and neuromuscular energy?

I’ve always assumed the two to be one and the same. And how does that translate to the road, is an anaerobic effort like a 1 to 10 minute all out effort, and anything less than that is neuromuscular?

Thanks in advance!

Not a direct answer but, here are the three energy systems. Others please chime in and correct or add to and/or answer the OP directly. Fascinating stuff. Vast majority of work we do is aerobic:

  1. ATP-PCr system (ATP Creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine) or PCr) = PCr broken down into phosphate and energy to rebuild ATP. Can occur with or with out O2 so anaerobic. All out efforts of 3-15 seconds. After about 15 seconds the other 2 systems are needed to produce ATP.
  2. Glycolytic system means the breakdown of glucose. The process is more complicated than I can explain but this is where the pyruvic acid (glycolysis fast and slow) is either turned into lactic acid or it goes through the kreb cycle. The end result is energy for efforts up to approximately 45 seconds.
  3. Oxidative system is again more complicated than I dare explain but, if I understand it correctly we are getting energy from approx 90 seconds and beyond…

All three systems used at once to varying degree depending on intensity.

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Any effort longer than about 45 seconds (at a guess; it probably varies from rider to rider) will be a mixture of anaerobic and aerobic, with the anaerobic component decreasing the longer it gets. A 1 minute effort will have a big anaerobic component, a 10 minute effort will be mostly aerobic with maybe 10% anaerobic contribution, a 60 minute effort will have virtually no anaerobic at all.

(Quote from Coach Chad on the podcast: “Recognise the fact that even short efforts are very aerobic, and the bigger your aerobic engine, the better off you’re going to be.”)

So the longer the sustained efforts you want to do, the more you train your aerobic system with sweetspot, threshold, and vo2 max intervals.

If you do crit or road racing with short hills that involve following attacks, or pushing hard for 30 seconds over short rises, then you’ll want to add more zone 6 / anaerobic work into the mix.

The clever thing about Trainer Road is that if you follow the plans, you don’t need to worry about it too much. TT plans have mostly aerobic and Crit plans have more anaerobic. It’s all done for you.