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Designing an effective speed-training program - Part 5

Patrick Beith continues his series of articles on designing an effective speed training programme with a review of the energy and body systems.

In this article, I will look at the energy and body systems we are training to develop speed. Understanding how these systems work and how a particular exercise prescription improves a system can facilitate more effective adaptations.

Energy System

First, we will briefly look at the energy systems we are working on within our speed development. There are three that we have to be concerned with:

  1. ATP/CP System (Adenosine Triphosphate/Creatine Phosphate)
  2. The Anaerobic Lactate (Glycolytic) System
  3. Aerobic System

These systems describe the metabolic pathways available to replace ATP concentrations. As hydrogen ion concentrations increase in the glycolytic system, enzyme activity decreases, and glucose or glycogen breaks down to pyruvate to provide energy.

To design an effective program, knowledge of your sport/event and how these energy systems affect success in that sport/event is critical to improving.

The next topic requiring some attention is understanding the four body systems that must be developed with your training.

The Neuromuscular System

This system consists of the elements of the central nervous system that control skeletal muscle activity and muscle tissue that is involved in creating force production during athletic performance. The degree of effectiveness of the Central Nervous System is the single performance factor. Developing the neuromuscular system should be the essential focus of your training. This system must be trained in the absence of fatigue to elicit the best results. Despite its importance, this system is widely underdeveloped in most programs.

The Neuroendocrine System

This system operates by releasing hormones into the bloodstream during exercise. By having certain hormones in the bloodstream, strength development, recovery from workouts, and other metabolic functions are significantly enhanced. Certain types of exercise produce clear responses to the endocrine system, where effectively designed training can result in a marked performance improvement.

The Musculoskeletal System

This system consists of the muscle tissue responsible for force production, connective tissue, and bones. It is important to note that the force created, and the force applied is not the same. The musculoskeletal system facilitates the transformation of a created force into the applied force.

It is critical to develop postural stability and postural alignment to enable efficient movement patterns and prevent injuries.

The Proprioceptive System

This system's job is to sense and provide the body with information concerning body position, movement, and coordinative abilities. Many activities and actions in speed development, as well as in athletic performance as a whole, are considered reflexive. Thus, they are reliant on proprioceptive function. Athletes who can quickly and efficiently respond to their body position and movement are decisive in overall skill development and performance.

To effectively and efficiently develop this system, athletes must engage in activities that challenge their coordination and balance.


Because all five of these systems contribute to speed and performance, all of them must be developed. There is a level of interconnectedness between all five systems. So, in developing one system, you will be developing others at the same time. This does not change the fact that your speed development program must address all of these systems with some degree of planned balance. This balance in training is just as important to overall speed gains as any system development in particular.

It is important to consider the demands of your sport/event, the age (training and otherwise) of your athletes, skill level, etc. to determine the most appropriate balance of activities.

Article Reference

This article first appeared in:

  • BETH, P. (2007) Designing an effective speed-training program - Part 5. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, (ISSN 1745-7513/ 43/ June), p. 12

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • BETH, P. (2007) Designing an effective speed-training program - Part 5 [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Patrick Beth is a co-owner of Athletes' Acceleration, Inc, a company devoted to performance enhancement whose mission is to improve motivated coaches and athletes' knowledge base to enhance athletic performance. He is a Performance Consultant certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS), the American Council of Sports Medicine (HFI), and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (PES). He is a USA Track and Field Level II Coach in the Sprints, Hurdles, and Jumps.