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Theories on energy systems and GS


New member
After reading Christine M. Uberti's interesting article on energy systems the wheels started spinning. I was thinking that perhaps GS training over time would cause a change in the utilized energy system, for example a beginner would probably use the phosphagen energy system to jerk two doubles while an advanced kettlebell lifter's physiology would probably have adapted to the point where the oxidative system would be utilized for the same effort. Does anyone know if I am on the right track with this thought process or is this totally wrong?

Thank you for imput,

Jared in MT

New member
Actually, it takes more guts...

if you asked any of the Russians who jerk 150+ reps what energy system they use, I'm sure you'll get a blank stare.

Truthfully, have you done full competitions with both the 24's and 32's? They are completely different beasts. The 24's are a great cardio workout & the 32's are a great test of strength & technique.


New member
Overthinking the subject...

First of all, I am not dissing or making fun. It's always good to try to integrate new information into what you know, and to try to get new perspectives.

IMO, I think that the 'energy cycles and utilization' aspect, while interesting and fun to think about, doesn't really apply nearly as much to a GS expert's progress as motor learning and muscle fiber recruitment patterns. And simple mental toughness.

An advanced Girevik simply has much more skill and efficiency in his lifting technique and knows how to work through mental barriers. It's similar to a yogi who tackles the Bikram Yoga sequence (in a 105 degree room) or the Primary Series of Ashtanga yoga. The primary problem is one of efficiency and relaxation in the face of the severe demands of the postures. The more advanced yogi is simply more efficient and relaxed in the completion of his assigned task.

Yes, I am sure that the threshold/transition for changing from one energy system to another does improve in the advanced Girevik. But I think primarily he simply stronger and more efficient in his lifting patterns. Again, JMO.


New member
My apologies...

... for confusing the intent of my question. The question was not intended in any way to help my lifting, I simply have an intrest in exercise physiology and enjoy learning new things that pertain to it. You're probably right though lemon, it probably has more to do with neurological efficiency than anything else.


Ross Hunt

New member
It was a good question. Analyzing any activity in terms of energy systems is hard, th

IMO, it was a good question - it produced a lot of high-quality info about GS.

Energy systems are interesting. But even when it comes to relatively simple events - like the 100-800 meter dashes and runs - there is a really wide range of opinions about how much each energy system contributes to each event. Compare Siff's 'classical estimations' in Supertraining with John Berardi's numbers in his article 'Training the Energy Systems' (at johnberardi.com). I wouldn't even know where to start with an event as complex as GS.

Lemon makes a really good point about movement pattern efficiency that reminds me of one of the issues of the CrossFit Journal - the 'What About Cardio?' issue. The Journal asserted that there is no such thing as pure cardiovascular ability independent of movement pattern and intensity. For example:

-Rowers are good at rowing, but not at sprinting.
-Supposedly top-notch aerobic-endurance athletes suffer cardiovascular failure - not muscular failure - when exposed to short, intense exercises like high-rep barbell or kettlebell lifts.

I don't think what I've related has any great implications for GS, because specificity will always be king within the realm of any given sport. But for someone who's interested in doing a bunch of different activities rather than specializing in GS, it might be useful to consider that activity carries over from short-term energy systems to long-term energy systems, but not vice versa:

-Sprinters can run O.K. mile times, but milers can't sprint.
-Doing high-rep barbell or kettlebell lifts will produce O.K. long, slow run endurance, but jogging won't produce high-rep bbell/kbell endurance.
-Doing heavy o-lifts will increase your ability to do high reps with a lower weight, but not vice versa (Most CrossFitters would disagree with this one).

Pavel Tsatsouline

Com. Ben, I would not overcomplicate the issue by dwelling on the energy systems. You need to deal with different types of fatigue -muscular, ligament, respiratory, etc. Train to deal with these types of fatigue. The best way -specific GS practice. The second best is targeting one type of fatigue in an exercise: overhead and rack supports, swings with a soaped up handle, high rep front squats, etc.
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