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July 20, 2014

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Alactic training, what is it and how can you use it? This will be a short post, but hopefully will open your awareness to an often neglected form of training.

Alactic training, specifically alactic-anaerobic training, is training that does not utilise the lactic acid energy system as the primary source of fuel. What this means is that training efforts are very brief, most often under 7 seconds duration per effort. Further to that, efforts are conducted at absolute maximum intensity.

Examples include short sprints, plyometrics and max strength lifts using low repetitions.

So why would you use alactic training?

For athletes - Most sports make use of short bursts of high intensity activity. Think of sprinting to a loose ball in a game of soccer, making a line break in rugby, throwing a knockout punch in boxing or receiving a long pass in American football. All of these actions require very short, explosive bursts of speed and power. Alactic training is exactly what caters to such things.

For everyone else - Short bursts of intense activity are the most natural types of activity in humans when taking into account fight or flight responses and the needs of the primitive human. Long distance running is not something that would have been common to this primal man. They needed to be able to sprint, climb, lift and jump. These are activities that make a person immediately useful. Obviously other skills are necessary and you will often need to use the anaerobic lactate energy system and the aerobic system. However alactic, explosive strength and power are essential skills for anyone.

How to go about it...

Alactic training is simple, but not easy. Minimal investment of time is needed. Training frequency can be low and still produce significant results.

The following are a few simple things you can begin applying to your own training, regardless of who you are and what you do.

Get strong - Take some time to stop lifting for 10-12 reps at a slow pace. Stack some weight on the bar, lift fast (but maintain good form), keep sets short (1-5 reps) and take longer rests between sets.

Plyometrics - Perform squat jumps, bounding drills, depth jumps etc, even just once a week. Keep reps low, rests long and intensity high.

Sprint sprint sprint - Unless you have a physical limitation that prevents it, you should be sprinting. I'm not talking about doing dozens of hill sprints one after the other. I'm speaking of short, high speed sprints, from 5m up to 50m. You only need a few in a given session and they don't have to be done every day.

Lift and throw at high velocity - Learn some Olympic lifts such as the clean or the power snatch or even just components of those lifts like the snatch pull, and aim to move the bar at great speed. Further to that practice kettlebell swings, kettlebell snatches etc and add some throws to that, such as medicine ball slams and chest passes, throwing a javelin or even just shot putting large rocks.

It's about as simple as that. Alactic training should be used by almost everyone, whether athlete or regular Joe. Practice sprinting, agility drills, heavy lifts etc. Keep this sort of training volume low and always think of velocity.

Off ya go then, get training. See you soon with some more cool content. I will be preparing a heavily researched article in the near future that will turn your idea of fitness on its head. Stay tuned.


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We offer one on one strength and conditioning in a face to face format in Merrylands in Sydney’s south-west.

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Whichever option you choose, you will get the best quality coaching and program design. Contact us via email on or call 0412 602 746.

Unleash Your Physical Potential,

Chris Lyons

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