What to Know About Anaerobic Exercise


What Is Anaerobic Exercise?

“Anaerobic” means “without oxygen”. It is a form of exercise that involves any activity that breaks down glucose for energy without the use of oxygen. It is a short, fast, high-intensity type of exercise that is different from aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise is one of the most common and effective workouts which one would have gone through at some point in their life. It helps burn fat and improves cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and blood glucose management. It is also a great way to build muscles and lose weight.

Types of Anaerobic Exercises

These are exercises that involve a short burst of intense energy. A lot of energy is released and the oxygen demand is more than the supply of oxygen in this type of exercise. Here are some examples of calorie-torching and endurance-building types of exercise.


Sprint is one example of an anaerobic exercise, it is running at full speed over a short period. Energy is exerted at this period and the oxygen supply is low. Practicing sprints can improve one’s agility and also speed up the pace for longer running distances.


Weightlifting is an example of an anaerobic exercise that helps with muscle building. Weights are lifted in a repetitive manner which is known as “reps”. Health experts recommend at least two weightlifting sessions a week.


Plyometric is an anaerobic activity that helps improve strength, power, and balance. It is also known as jump training. Some plyometric exercises are one-legged hops, jump squats, and other types of jumps that involve jumping over clones or into boxes.


An isometric exercise is a form of weight training that does not involve a change in the size of one’s muscles. This type of exercise is included in strength training to improve their ability to apply power from a motionless position. There are three main types of isometric exercises: presses, pulls, and holds.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-Intensity Interval Training is a cardiovascular exercise strategy that alternates a short period of intense anaerobic exercise with a less intense recovery period until one is too tired to continue.

Difference Between Anaerobic and Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise creates energy using a continuous supply of oxygen to endure the present level of activity without needing extra energy from another source. On the other hand, anaerobic exercise stimulates one’s body to demand more energy than your aerobic system can produce.

To produce more energy, the body makes use of its anaerobic system, which depends on energy sources stored in your muscles. Slow-paced exercises such as jogging or endurance cycling are examples of aerobic exercise. Workouts that are fast-paced like sprinting, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), jumping rope, and interval training are examples of anaerobic exercise.

In simple terms, aerobic means “with oxygen,” while anaerobic means “without oxygen”

Similarities Between Anaerobic Exercise and Aerobic Exercise

flexibleAlthough there are some differences between the anaerobic and aerobic exercises, they both share some similarities. They are both beneficial for the cardiovascular system and also help in the following ways:

  • Boost circulation
  • Increase metabolism
  • Strengthen the heart muscle
  • Aid weight management

These two types of exercises also help lower one’s risk of getting the following health conditions:

Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

Aids Weight Maintenance

Anaerobic exercises help one maintain a healthy weight. It also helps the body manage lactic acid effectively.

Builds Muscles

This is one of the most common benefits of anaerobic exercise. With the high intensity of this exercise, muscles are exerted; the muscle fibers also experience small tears which are reformed to build and strengthen the muscle. It helps build muscle mass and also increases one’s endurance and fitness levels.

Improves Physical Performance

Consistent anaerobic exercises can increase one’s ability to withstand fatigue and accelerate the recovery process. It increases fast-twitch muscle fibers as well as boosts speed, power, and strength.

Boosts Metabolism

Anaerobic exercise also helps to boost one’s metabolism as it builds and maintains lean muscles. Repeated workouts help build larger muscles, which raise the resting metabolic rate that helps the body burn more calories.

Reduces Disease Risk

Maintaining a healthy body weight prevents one from the risks of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and diabetes.

Improves Mood

Anaerobic exercises decrease feelings of anger, depression, and tension. They also relieve stress and help one sleep better.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Regular anaerobic exercise can regulate insulin by burning stored glycogen to help the body stay healthy. This helps reduce blood sugar levels.

Heightens Energy Levels

Since the body depends on the glycogen stored in your muscles for energy, regular anaerobic training will enhance the body’s tendency to store glycogen, providing you with more energy when required.

Raises the VO2 Max

VO2 max is the greatest amount of oxygen the body is capable of consuming during exercise. The average V02 max for an untrained, healthy male is 35-40 mL/(kg`min) and for a healthy female about 27-31 mL/(kg`min). A consistent anaerobic routine will increase these numbers and allow the body to perform activities swiftly.

Improves Bone Strength and Density

Spelt: Benefits and Side EffectsAnaerobic training helps increase bone density, thereby preventing osteoporosis.

Protects the Joints

Building your muscle strength and muscle mass helps keep your joints protected, as you will enjoy greater protection against injury.

Side Effects of Anaerobic Exercise

Knowing the side effects of performing any anaerobic training will help prevent burnout and injury and also improve your running experience.

Burning and Tingling Muscles

Once the body expends energy from the muscles during anaerobic training, it begins to build up lactic acid. When the muscles start burning and tingling, that`s a sign that one has reached the anaerobic edge and the muscles can no longer hold more lactic acid. When this happens, stop or slow down so the lactic buildup can recede.

Muscle Fatigue

Lactic acid buildup will alert the body to slow down. Failure to slow down will increase the levels of potassium and hydrogen, which are chemicals that aid muscle contractions, thereby leading to muscle fatigue.

Difficulty Speaking

Having difficulty speaking is a common symptom that shows up when one has reached the anaerobic threshold. During anaerobic running, the body will not use oxygen, but will still expel carbon dioxide, relying on the muscles for short-term energy. This will leave one breathless, due to a process called lactic acid fermentation. This is a byproduct of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which the body can clear during aerobic exercise. Be sure to slow down when you experience breathlessness.

Anaerobic Capacity and Anaerobic Power

Anaerobic Capacity

The maximum amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) re-synthesized by anaerobic metabolism during short-duration, high-intensity exercises is referred to as an anaerobic capacity. Maximal anaerobic capacity tests are separated into three categories:

  • maximal oxygen debt tests,
  • ergometric testing (all-out tests and constant load tests),
  • oxygen deficit measurement during a constant load test

Anaerobic Power (ANP)

Anaerobic power (ANP) is the ability to accomplish a task at minimum speed. The alactic anaerobic metabolism (ATP-CP) is required for explosive movement since it produces energy quickly. This energy is almost entirely derived from high-energy phosphocreatine in the muscles, which contain between 3 and 8 mmol of ATP per kilogram of muscle. This is characterized as an instantaneous energy production system for high-intensity short-term activities (10 to 15 seconds), with phosphocreatine as a dominant substrate that is also characterized as a limited source. Force-velocity tests, vertical leap tests, staircase tests, and cycle ergometer tests are all examples of anaerobic power testing.

Now that you Know…

Anaerobic exercises push the body and lungs to rely on energy stored in the muscles. Beginners are advised to start with simple and less draining exercises like sprints and interval training.