We all have the same number of hours in the day. However, the majority of us are not elite athletes. This means that we cannot devote our day solely to training and generally speaking cannot fit in two individual session per day. Whether I would even recommend two sessions a day is a whole different blog post. As a result, many of us will end up having to hit two different components in our training sessions. This also goes beyond personal training. Think of any group class or strength and conditioning session you have been to, generally there is a Part A (generally strength), and Part B (generally conditioning). So, is it okay to do a heavy lift before a MetCon (conditioning), or will you be too fatigued and see a big drop in performance?
The Role of Glycogen in Exercise
Glycogen is the bodies “go to” when it comes to providing energy in a short space of time. With the majority of your stores being found in the muscles, it plays a major role in short HIIT style training and fast MetCon style sessions. Whether you are completing Olympic lifts, gymnastics or straight up sprints. You are going to rely heavily on glycogen. You can find out more about energy production and glycolysis HERE on Khan Academy.
Heavy Lifting, Glycogen and Conditioning
Lifting heavy weights, whether it be squats and deads or snatches and cleans, glycogen is essential. The anaerobic nature of the movements mean that glycogen stores become depleted. With only 5 to 10 minutes rest between lifting and conditioning, your energy stores are will not be fully replenished. As a result, you will begin to fatigue at a greater rate. As your stores further diminish, you will find muscle power and endurance will both begin to fade. For a good visual representation of this, check out THIS POST by WOD Science.
So Squatting before Conditioning is Bad?
In a typical strength and conditioning answer… It depends! Ultimately it comes down to what the main outcome of your session is and what kind of adaptations you are trying to stimulate. Training with low levels of glycogen have been shown to promote positive muscular adaptations. For example, some research suggests that exercise with low glycogen levels may be beneficial for improving muscle oxidative capacity and endurance.
In addition, if your main focus is strength, then performing your squats first is a must. Whatever your number 1 goal is will dictate how you structure your session.
At NK Fitness we see every single session with a client as a stepping stone towards their ultimate goal. As Leading Personal Trainers in Berkshire, we pride ourselves on providing the RIGHT workout, not just a hard one. This means sometimes, we may want you to be a bit fatigued going into your conditioning and other times we may not.