What is ATP with regard to exercise?

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine

ATP stands for adenosine tri phosphate it is a molecule made in every cell of your body. ATP is a molecule that has three phosphates attached to it, in the bonds of these phosphates is a large amount of chemical energy. For any chemical process in your body that requires energy the cells of your body will break the bond between one of the phosphates and perform work using the energy released. Part of the foods we eat is used to create new ATP to replace the ATP broken down by all the chemical processes that keep our bodies alive.

Our bodies produce ATP primarily through two main mechanism's anaerobic, and aerobic metabolism. Anaerobic metabolism is without the use of oxygen and supplies small amounts of ATP quickly for things like lifting a heavy weight or running across the street after your child. Aerobic metabolism is how we produce most of our ATP and require oxygen this system produces a lot of ATP but more slowly and is working while you are at rest or performing moderately slow and steady activity like jogging. 

Discovery Health
Discovery Health

Muscles, and indeed every cell in your body, require the source of energy that keeps everything going, which is called ATP. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the way your body uses biochemicals to store and use energy.

Following is a summary of the reaction that turns ATP into energy:

In Chemistry, ATP is an adenine nucleotide which is bound to three phosphates.

A lot of energy is stored in the bond between the second and third phosphate groups and this can be used as fuel in chemical reactions.

Cells need energy, so it breaks this bond and forms adenosine diphosphate (ADP) as well as a free phosphate molecule.

Sometimes, the second phosphate group is also broken to form adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

A cell stores excess energy by forming ATP from ADP and phosphate.

The biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction requires. As muscles work harder, more and more ATP is consumed and must be replaced so the muscle can keep moving.ATP is so important, the body uses several different systems to create it, working together in phases. Because different forms of exercise use different systems, therefore a sprinter is utilizing ATP in a completely different way from a long-distance runner.

Three different biochemical systems in the muscle produce ATP:

  1. the phosphagen system
  2. the glycogen-lactic acid system
  3. aerobic respiration

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.