Anaerobic Exercise: Definition, Benefits, Science Behind This Type of Training and Differences from Aerobic Exercise

It is physical exercise that includes brief activities based on strength, such as lifting weights.

If the term aerobic exercise immediately makes you think of a jazzercise video from the 80s, you are not alone.

But anaerobic exercise, a higher intensity, higher power version of exercise, doesn’t produce such a clear picture.

While the term may not be something you are familiar with, anaerobic exercise is a very common exercise, not to mention that it is effective.

In fact, you’ve probably undergone anaerobic training at some point in your life!

To make sure you’re on top of speed when it comes to calorie-burning and stamina-building exercise, we’ve covered everything you need to know about anaerobic exercise.

Anaerobic exercise: what is it?

Anaerobic exercise is any activity that breaks down glucose for energy without using oxygen. In general, these activities are short duration with high intensity.

The idea is that a lot of energy is released in a small period of time, and your oxygen demand exceeds the oxygen supply.

Exercises like sprinting, weight lifting, and jumping, all movements that require short bursts of intense energy, are examples of anaerobic exercise.

Differences between aerobic and anaerobic

Aerobic exercise produces energy by using a continuous supply of oxygen to maintain the current level of activity without the need for additional energy from another source.

But anaerobic exercise takes things up a notch, causing your body to demand more energy than your aerobic system can produce.

To produce more energy, your body uses its anaerobic system, which relies on the energy sources stored in your muscles.

Slower-paced exercises, such as jogging or endurance cycling, are examples of aerobic exercise.

Fast-paced workouts like sprinting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), jumping rope, and interval training take the more intense approach of anaerobic exercise.

An easy way to remember the difference between the two, aside from the fact that you literally swallow air, the term “aerobic” means “with oxygen” while “anaerobic” means “without oxygen.”

The science behind anaerobics

Oxygen is required for the body to use fat for fuel.

Aerobic exercise, since it uses oxygen for energy, can use both fat and glucose for fuel. Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, can only use glucose for fuel.

Glucose is available in the muscles for quick and short movements of movement, and can be used when the aerobic system is at its peak for a short period of time.

When you begin to exercise vigorously, there is a temporary shortage of oxygen reaching the working muscles.

That means anaerobic exercise must be fueled using glucose through a process called glycolysis.

Glycolysis occurs in muscle cells during high intensity training without oxygen, producing energy rapidly.

This process also produces lactic acid, which is the reason behind why the muscles tire after the energy blast.

But there is good news! By regularly performing anaerobic exercises, your body will be able to tolerate and eliminate lactic acid more effectively. That means you will tire less quickly, after more effort.

The benefits

Anaerobic exercise seems like a lot of work, because it is.

But the benefits that come with the intense workout regimen are enough to make you want to power up your next workout.

Increased strength and bone density

Studies show that anaerobic activity, such as resistance training, can increase the strength and density of bones. Double benefit: You will also decrease your risk of osteoporosis.

Weight maintenance

In addition to helping your body handle lactic acid more effectively, anaerobic exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight.

A study examining the effects of high intensity training found that while the effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible, training with HIIT can lead to moderate reductions in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat.

Increase power

May Increase Your Power: A 2008 study of Division 1A baseball players found that players who performed eight 20 to 30 second wind sprints three days a week saw their power increase by an average of 15 percent from throughout the season.

Increase metabolism

Your metabolism will skyrocket. Okay, they might not skyrocket, but anaerobic exercise helps boost your metabolism as you build and maintain lean muscle.

The more lean muscles you have, the more calories you will burn during your next sweat session.

High intensity exercise is also believed to increase calorie burn after training.

Increased lactic threshold

By continuously training above your anaerobic threshold, your body can increase its ability to handle lactic acid, which increases your lactic threshold, or the point at which you experience fatigue.

That means you can train harder, for longer.

Fight depression

Studies show that anaerobic exercise, like strength training, can improve your mood and even fight depression.

Reduces the risk of disease

According to a 2007 study, the increased strength and bone density achieved by high-intensity anaerobic training, such as squats and bodyweight push-ups, can lower your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Joint protection

By increasing muscle strength and muscle mass, your joints will be better protected, which means you will have greater protection against injury.

Increase energy

Improves energy and sports performance.

Consistent anaerobic exercise increases your body’s ability to store glycogen (what your body uses for energy), giving you more energy for your next session of intense physical activity, thereby enhancing your athletic ability.

Why do people avoid anaerobic training?

People can avoid anaerobic training because it is difficult.

However, by practicing simple anaerobic exercises such as high intensity interval training, sprints, and weight training, you can also reap the benefits of this powerful workout.