How Exercise Enhances Your Body’s Performance
Strength training and increasing levels of lean muscle mass in the body can profoundly improve overall metabolic health. Developing higher levels of muscle mass and enhancing the efficiency of the body’s energy systems can also have a profound effect on preventing metabolic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Within every cell in our body, we have tiny factories called mitochondria. These little powerhouses break down glycogen, fat, and oxygen to produce ATP, commonly referred to as the “energy currency” of the cells, playing a crucial role in our energy and fitness levels throughout the day. Training our body through different energy systems allows us to become highly efficient at switching between the main fuels of our body – glycogen and fat. This ability is known as metabolic flexibility.
At rest and during low levels of aerobic exercise intensity, our bodies should be very effective at burning fat and oxygen as our main fuel sources. However, when we increase anaerobic training intensity through methods such as weight training and HIIT, we should be able to switch to burning glycogen (stored carbohydrates) from our muscles and liver, ideally causing some form of glycogen depletion. Once we have completed our training, our bodies should switch back to burning fat. Developing high levels of metabolic flexibility through this process enables us to maintain healthy metabolic function, low levels of body fat, and high levels of muscle mass.
Increasing muscle mass levels through strength training further improves this system as it teaches the body to become more insulin sensitive. When we consume starches and sugars through food, blood glucose levels begin to rise. The pancreas then needs to produce insulin to help lower the blood sugar levels, and ideally, the insulin then gets shuttled into the muscles and liver to be used as fuel, thereby continuing the cycle. Muscles use glucose, which reduces the need for the hormone insulin. Over time, the body becomes more efficient at using insulin, ultimately preventing and managing diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
At COACH London we recommend using a variety of aerobic and anaerobic training methods to help improve your metabolic health markers. Becoming proficient at weight training, high-intensity interval training, and steady-state cardio work can be the missing link in your health quest.
Written by Mark Roper, Head of Training at COACH London