A Brief Introduction to Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise is a form of exercise in which energy for the activities performed comes from the sugars present in the muscle cells and not from oxygen in the blood. In fact, anaerobic means “in the absence of oxygen”. Such exercises are basically of short duration and intense.

What is anaerobic exercise?

Anaerobic exercise is a form of exercise in which energy for the activities performed comes from the sugars present in the muscle cells and not from oxygen in the blood. In fact, anaerobic means “in the absence of oxygen”. Such exercises are basically of short duration and intense. Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting and weight training. Because the effort required for such exercise is intense, it cannot be sustained for long. There are many factors that contribute to muscle fatigue during anaerobic exercise, chief amongst them is the production of lactic acid when sugars are broken down. The accumulation of lactic acid in the blood is a limiting factor to the extent we can carry out high-intensity activity without oxygen.

Anaerobic training and its benefits

If you wish to incorporate anaerobic exercise into your training regimen, it is advisable to go slow and first develop a certain level of aerobic fitness. Warming up and cooling down are very important aspects of aerobic training. It is important to have the muscles supple and loose before loading them with weights in any kind of aerobic regimen. You can come up with an exercise routine that will help you target the muscles you wish to develop. If you are averse to weights, you can train with bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and dips on parallel bars.

Anaerobic exercise builds muscle mass and muscle endurance. The objective of these exercises can be described as getting bigger, faster, and stronger. The exercise exerts fast-twitch skeletal muscles that naturally display anaerobic metabolic characteristics.

Benefits of anaerobic training include –

1. Developing muscle, which means more strength and also higher amounts of calories burnt as muscle burns more calories than fat. Muscle building increases Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), metabolism when the body is at rest.

2. Increase in muscle mass and bone density are two big advantages, particularly for elderly people that are susceptible to osteoporosis.

3. Developing muscle around joints helps maintain joint health.

4. Lowers blood sugar. Sugar is the primary source of energy in anaerobic exercise. Regular exercise regulates blood sugar levels which otherwise would be converted into fat, as it indeed happens with people that lead a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise.

5. For people above forty, this exercise form helps in retaining muscle mass which otherwise may start slowly wasting away due to the inevitable process of aging. It helps maintain posture and gives you a feeling of “well-being”.


Avoid overtraining. Train under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Stay away from things that can nullify the hard-earned benefits of anaerobic exercise. These include hard drinking, smoking, drugs, and lack of sleep. A balanced diet that includes all essential nutrients and is low-fat should serve you well. Breakfast cereal, fruit, nuts, lean meat, sprouts, etc should all be a part of your diet. Avoid high-carb and high-sugar foods after an anaerobic workout so that the body replenishes the sugar stores by breaking down fat.

For optimum health benefits, one should look to combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise. This way you build muscle, lose fat, and improve cardiovascular performance. Because anaerobic exercise increases muscle mass and muscles burn more calories per unit time as compared to fat, this type of exercise helps in controlling weight as your metabolism rate increases. One pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 Calories a day whereas a pound of fat burns around 3 Calories a day. Therefore, if weight loss is your aim you should include an anaerobic workout to your jogging, cycling routine so that the body continues to burn fat in a sustained manner.

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A Brief Introduction to Anaerobic Exercise