Continuing on from the last post where we discussed cardiac output to get the blood pumping and stretch the heart ventricles, now what about when the blood gets to where it’s going?
In the cells themselves there are little “power stations” called mitochondria.
And like all things in the body, we can train to optimise their number and function.
The mitochondria are responsible for producing ATP which is the currency of muscle contraction.
No ATP, no muscle contraction.
It’s why after a heavy Deadlift or similar effort, after a few seconds you start sucking air. The deadlift called for a stack of muscle contraction, this depleted the ATP which stimulates the aerobic system to ramp up to regenerate what’s been used and refuel the cells ready for the next effort.
The better our aerobic base, and the more mitochondria, the faster we refuel and can go again. For endurance purposes, we’re constantly flowing from use and refuel in an ongoing process.
There’s a couple of ways to increase mitochondrial efficiency
One of the best is moving really slowly.
We commonly program 3 second push ups in our training. This means we take 3 seconds to descend, 3 second to ascend, no break in motion, and not locking out to rest.
This keeps a constant tension in the muscle restricting blood flow and causing a build of metabolites. In other words, it sucks.
The long duration and constant tension stimulates the slow twitch or endurance fibres to develop. They’ll never be T-Shirt poppingly huge like their type 2 brethren, but if you want efficient, powerful movements, they are key.
You can use almost any compound exercise in this manner. Just avoid locking out, and keep tension on the target muscles for a minimum of 4 seconds per rep for 8-12 reps. If you’re a cyclist, put the bike in a high gear and crank it out, the constant tension will give a similar effect. Runners, find a hill and cruise up it.
The burn is real.
Three to four sets with long breaks between and you will start to develop real, ongoing old man strength.
Cycle this in for a few weeks, you should find an significant improvement in endurance.