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Physique Global

Understanding the Glycolytic Energy System

Glycolysis means the breakdown of glucose and consists of a series of chemical reactions that are controlled by enzymes. The glycolytic system is the next in line alternative after the ATP-PC system is fully utilised. Carbohydrates supply glucose that circulates in the blood or is stored as glycogen in the muscles and the liver. Blood glucose or stored glycogen is broken down to create Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP through the process of glycolysis. Like the ATP-PC system, oxygen is not required for the actual process of glycolysis (but it does play a role with the by-product of glycolysis: pyruvic acid).

During the processes of glycolysis hydrogen ions (H+) are released into the muscle cell. Without oxygen, the H+ cannot be removed and as a result, the muscle cell becomes increasingly acidic. It is this acidity that we feel a burning sensation and it comes about solely as a result of the accumulation of hydrogen ions (H+).

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