Aerobic and Anaerobic Training
Our bodies have two different energy systems: aerobic and anaerobic. Simply explained, the main difference is that the aerobic system requires oxygen, while the anaerobic system does not. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise serve different purposes.
Aerobic exercise is an endurance exercise that increases heart rate and breathing for a relatively long time. In other words, it is exercise when the body is constantly taking in oxygen to keep going, such as cross-country skiing or cycling. Anaerobic exercise is the type of exercise that includes short periods of intense activity. Examples of anaerobic exercise include weight training and sprinting.
In this article, we will take a closer look at both types and explain their similarities and differences.
Reading tip: Fitness training.
Aerobic exercise is when you train your body's endurance so that it always has enough oxygen to keep going. The body uses energy, mainly from carbohydrates and fat. Aerobic exercises increase your heart rate and breathing to deliver more oxygen to your muscles. This means that you will not get lactic acid in your muscles and will be able to continue for a longer period of time.
Examples of aerobic exercise:
- Brisk walks.
For example, if you go for a run without completely exhausting yourself but keep a steady pace that you can maintain for a longer period, your body stays in the aerobic system. Aerobic exercise has many benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and resting heart rate. You also get more type 1 muscle cells, which are the endurance type of muscle cells.
Anaerobic exercise is when you subject your body to short intervals of physical activity. This type of exercise does not increase oxygen uptake but causes the body to break down glucose stores in the muscles. There is then a lack of oxygen and you get lactic acid. This leads to the body not being able to work for as long as it does when you exercise aerobically.
Examples of anaerobic training:
- Weight lifting.
- HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Often you train both aerobically and anaerobically during the same session without thinking about it. If you do a HIIT session, you are in the anaerobic system during the intense periods, and then switch to the aerobic system. You are then in the aerobic system when the intensity is lower and you run or walk more slowly. If you do strength training and make sure to lift really heavy with few repetitions, this is also anaerobic training that then switches to the aerobic system while you rest between your sets. In this type of training, you get more type 2 muscle cells, which is the explosive type.
Similarities and differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise
The main differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise are:
- The way the body uses energy.
- The intensity of the exercise.
- How long a person can perform the exercise.
Generally speaking, aerobic exercises are used to increase endurance while anaerobic exercises increase strength and muscle mass.
Among other things, both types help the body to:
- Strengthening the heart.
- Increase blood circulation.
- Increase metabolism.
Read more: Positive effects of fitness training.
All types of exercise are beneficial to health, both physical and mental, and should be done regularly to keep us healthy.
Answers to frequently asked questions:
Can I do both aerobic and anaerobic exercise at the same time?
Yes and no. You can train both the aerobic and the anaerobic system during the same session, but not at the same time. For example, if you do a spinning session, it is aerobic training during the session, but also anaerobic if you do intervals.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is also known as cardio or endurance training. When you exercise, for example by running or taking a brisk walk, your breathing rate and heart rate increase and so does your oxygen uptake. This allows you to continue exercising for longer periods of time.
What is anaerobic exercise?
Anaerobic exercise is when you use your body's maximum capacity during short intervals. You get energy from glucose stores and this type of exercise does not affect your oxygen uptake. Lactic acid is common in anaerobic exercise, which means you can't continue for longer periods. Examples of anaerobic exercises are weightlifting and sprinting.
What is aerobic exercise good for?
Aerobic exercise is good for many things. Among other things, it lowers our blood pressure and resting heart rate and increases the number of type 1 muscle cells, the endurance type. Aerobic training is linked to improved fitness and better blood flow to your muscles..
What is anaerobic exercise good for?
Anaerobic exercise has many benefits. You increase the strength of your muscles and the number of type 2 muscle cells for faster recovery. Type 2 muscle cells help the body get rid of lactic acid, allowing you to perform anaerobic exercise for longer.