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ATP-CP System

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and CP (creatine phosphate) are the substances used for cellular activity in all tissues, including muscle. This is the energy stored in muscles and available immediately for use by the muscles in contraction and relaxation. A limited amount of ATP can be stored in muscles. When the intensity of effort is maximal, this energy source is depleted in 20-30 seconds. After this time, intensity must decline or the effort must stop. ATP must be continually replenished during physical activity.

In mountain biking, this energy system would come into play with climbing a short, steep hill or sprinting. Training this energy system requires very short bouts of all-out effort (10-15 sec) with long and probably complete recovery between efforts. Care must be taken not to stimulate the anaerobic energy system with its production of lactic acid. The objective of training this system is to deplete the ATP and CP stores thus stimulating a supracompensatory increase in ATP and CP stores. Additional neuromuscular conditioning causes this system to respond quicker.

There is some controversy surrounding the training of this energy system. Whether or not it is an increase in the efficiency of this system or strictly a neuromuscular adaptation is unclear. Whatever the mechanism of change, the smart mountain biker will spend some time training for speed. Basically, the ATP-CP(adenosine Triphosphate-Creatine Phosphate) system is one of the body's three energy delivery sytems. Every cell in the body uses ATP to fuel biochemical activity, so each cell keeps a small reserve of this compound. ATP can be used to fuel sudden, high energy activity(the explosive movements in boxing and other sports).

ATP cannot be supplied from an outside source(diet or supplements) so therefore each cell must produce its own supply. This is done via another compound known as creatine phosphate(CP). The reserve of CP in a cell is about 5 times that of ATP, so therefore this sytem can fuel activity lasting about 30 seconds or so before it must replenish its supply. For a fit person, this regeneration time is shorter. You can improve the efficiency of your ATP-CP system by doing interval splits. During the all-out periods, you use primarily ATP-CP as fuel.


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