Mitochondria and strength - ABCbodybuilding

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Old 05-19-2012, 09:49 PM
Attila Attila is offline
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Default Mitochondria and strength

Ok, research is failing me. I have no idea why I can't find a definitive answer online so I figured I would ask the pros!

Here's what I've got so far. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise rely on mitochindria to form ATP. Aerobic metabolizes in the presence of oxygen where anaerobic metabolizes without. This second process is known as glycolysis and while faster isn't sustainable for long periods of time since it doesn't produce as much ATP per unit of glucose.


the thing I can't find anywhere online is wouldn't a higher mitochondria density give a greater base for glycosis, translating into greater burst strength? More mitochondria = more glycosis = more ATP = more cellular reaction = stronger lift

This confuses me because mitochondria is primarily increased through endurance training. Why then aren't endurance trainers crazy strong? Is it simply that they don't have the muscle mass?

If the mitochondria DO translate to strength would it then be highly beneficial to mix endurance training into Strength training? Increase muscle mass AND reap greater mitochondria density for a double whammy?

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Old 09-10-2012, 09:07 PM
Calvin Calvin is offline
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Interesting topic, did you ever make any headway??

I'm not sure if there have been any definitive studies in the area, but to me, it would make sense that increased mitochondria might increase the amount of time you can sustain burst strength as opposed to the amount of burst strength.

According to endurance work done by Lydiard and Dr. Cucuzella; long distance, low HR runs increase your mitochondria. Dr C uses the analogy of a hybrid car- gasoline engine (anaerobic, 2 ATP per cycle) vs electric (aerobic, 36 ATP per cycle). Theoretically: Endurance training makes your body more efficient and lowers your HR, which lowers your aerobic threshold, which allows you to use glucose more efficiently for longer.

I do know that sprinting athletes that Lydiard coached benefited from distance training.

I'm not sure how much this would apply to weightlifting given the amount of instantaneous force required. I definitely see it helping in any event requiring continued or repeated application of force.

EDIT: link to Dr. Cucuzella's explanation:
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Last edited by Calvin; 09-10-2012 at 09:11 PM. Reason: Added link
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Attila View Post
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise rely on mitochindria to form ATP.This second process is known as glycolysis and while faster isn't sustainable for long periods of time since it doesn't produce as much ATP per unit of glucose.
Here in lies the problem in my opinion, you forgot the Phosphagen System.

When we speak of strength training, we are actually talking more about the phosphagen energy system, rather than glycolysis. The phosphagen energy system is dominant in the first 10 seconds of high intensity exercise. If you think of typical strength exercises and rep schemes, that fits the fill perfectly. A 3 to 5 rep set is not going to be taxing the glycolytic system very much at all since it will be over in roughly that 10 second period. Therefore, building up mitochondria won't assist you in top end/maximal strength. However, building up mitochondria may assist in strength endurance as Calvin alluded to.

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