An Energy Guide to Strength Training

To build muscle, you must use a variety of energy sources. The correct balance of these will allow you to train hard and then recover so that your body can adapt as quickly as possible for the next workout.

The three main energy systems are:


It is important to understand how each system works and how these systems work together.

One of the main concerns for athletes is that the body can only store a limited amount of glycogen. This fact alone makes recovery more difficult due to less carbohydrate availability for energy after hard training sessions. This is why it is important to stay properly hydrated during and after training so that water can replace lost carbohydrates without delay. It also helps keep you in a state of ketosis if you are training on low-carbohydrate diets.


Fat provides a large amount of energy. That is not to say that you should only eat fat because you wouldn’t have enough carbohydrates left for quick-use energy. It’s more about choosing your foods carefully. Sour cream on your baked potato can be just as healthy as the skin on the potato itself (as long as it doesn’t contain fat, hydrogenated oils, or dairy). Some fats are essential for hormone production and muscle repair/growth, so it is important to find a way to fit them into your diet if possible.


Carbohydrates are important for quick-use energy. They are stored in the muscles as glycogen. When glycogen levels reach maximum, they must be replenished since they can only store a limited amount of energy. When training hard, it is important to eat sufficient carbohydrates before or during your training session to give yourself enough energy for the workout.


Protein is not only filling, but it provides you with amino acids that stimulate muscle building and repair processes. These nutrients are directly responsible for creating new muscle fibers and repair damaged muscle tissue.

If you find yourself running out of energy during a workout, try to refuel before the next workout. Don’t wait until you’ve finished eating something since this slows your metabolism and will keep you from eating enough food after training.

Ole Gunnar Monsen, an exercise physiologist at Louisiana State University, says you should not be afraid of eating carbs in the hour before training since they will help you perform better. He also says that you don’t need to eat carbohydrates for every meal, but at least two meals a day are especially important if you are training with weights. So try to eat a piece of bread or some fruit before your workouts and give yourself enough energy so that you can train hard and recover as quickly as possible. You can also use supple, such as PRIDE pre-workout powders.

Good Energy Sources vs Bad Energy Sources

Which energy sources the body requires depend on what types of training you are doing and your metabolism.

It takes a lot more energy for the body to break down protein for energy than it does for carbohydrates. If you want to keep your muscles at an optimum level, then you need to balance your protein/carb intake.

Many people believe that the key to gaining weight is eating as much as possible and lifting heavy weights. However, most people who lift weights don’t actually lift heavy and eat too little for gaining weight. Proper nutrition and a good calorie-to-weight ratio are far more important than how much you can lift. In essence: don’t overtrain, eat enough food and take your vitamins.

Good Energy Sources

Good sources of carbohydrates can include bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, cereal, and vegetables. However, these foods don’t provide the body with a large amount of energy per calorie. That’s why it is important to get enough of these foods in your diet (preferably four servings per day) so that you can train hard and recover fully after training sessions.

Bad Energy Sources

Bad sources of carbohydrates include sugar, artificial sweeteners, candy, and other sugary foods. These foods are empty calories and provide the body with almost no nutrients for use in training.

Bad sources of fat include hydrogenated oils, margarine, shortening, and candy bars. These foods provide little nutrition and are high in bad fats such as trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids have been linked to high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. These unhealthy fats are also found in many processed foods.

Carbohydrate Sources

A good carb source to have before a workout would be pasta, cereals, or bread. These foods are quick digesting and can provide enough energy to last through the workouts. However, carbohydrates should be consumed after training as well since they are essential for recovery. Try eating oatmeal, rice, or potatoes after your workouts for a good carb source. Carbs must be digested and absorbed quickly since they are the main fuel source during your workouts.

Recovery is essential to maintain your performance levels and avoid overtraining. Make sure that you eat clean and balanced meals before, during, and after training. Don’t worry about losing weight if you are eating the correct amount of food for energy needs. If you need to lose weight, then try cutting down on your caloric intake, or simply stop eating fast food.

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