What is Glycolysis? How it Effects Your Training.

What is Glycolysis? How it Effects Your Training.

Buckle down… this is an interesting one! We’ve all heard the term glycolysis thrown around when talking about nutritional and or exercise matters, but what really is this mysteriously scientific sounding word? It’s actually not that complicated DON’T READ THE PARANTHESIS (OK, if you look deeply and discuss glucose 6-phosphate and hexosemonophosphate shunt, then it’s complicated). But, let’s keep it simple.

How Glycolysis Starts

The carbohydrates we eat are ultimately broken down to glucose, which hopefully, you are all familiar with. Well, glycolysis is like taking an ax and splitting all those glucose molecules in half. Once the ax severs the glucose in half, the carnage we’re left with is two molecules of pyruvate. Pyruvate is a really important part of this discussion because this is where two different paths can be taken. You hear the words aerobic and anaerobic spoken when discussing strength training vs. cardiovascular training. Those terms are simple… think of aerobic as “in the presence of oxygen” and anaerobic as “without oxygen present.”

How Does This Effect My Training?

OK, so we have “the amazing” pyruvate and let’s say you’re walking or jogging on the treadmill. Pyruvate would follow the aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) path and enter the evil (not really) Krebs cycle to be broken down into ATP (think of this as the actual gasoline that we burn to make things move). The exhaust from this process is the CO2 we exhale. It’s a long and complicated process I’ll save for another newsletter.

Now, instead of jogging on the treadmill, let’s say you’re squatting with weight to failure. Failure happens so quickly (under a minute[unless you’re Angie Hall]) that the long and evil Krebs cycle takes too long to produce the gasoline (ATP) needed. So, instead pyruvate is converted into lactate, which is broken down to ultimately produce the gasoline (ATP), but it has some nasty exhaust… lactic acid! Yes, you’ve all felt it and it burns. The cool part about the lactic acid is that once removed from the muscle tissue, it’s taxied back to the liver via the Cori cycle and turned back into pyruvate to enter back into the system once again. Get it? A bit complicated, but read it a few time and it will make sense. Feel free to post questions below to Facebook and I’ll be sure to follow them up.

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