Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise

By Gerard Bochese

If you’re interested in losing weight and have been doing a lot of cardio exercise to achieve your goals but have found you’re not achieving the results you want or have hit a plateau, then it’s time to switch from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is slow, steady state exercise that requires oxygen and can be done for long periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is short bursts of strength and power (weight training, plyometrics, high intensity running intervals) that last only 30-45 seconds and require a chemical in our body (ATP) to perform.

Why the switch? Aerobic exercise is designed to improve your heart and lungs (which is extremely important) but it is not efficient for fat loss. Aerobic exercise decreases the amount of muscle you have. The only tissue in your body that can burn fat is muscle; therefore, we want to have more of it in order to burn fat and increase our metabolism.

Aerobic exercises train your muscles to use fat more efficiently, which causes them to burn less of it. The more you train, the easier the exercises get, and your body burns even less fat.

Anaerobic training is more effective and efficient for weight loss. It’s still cardiovascular, but you’re working at a greater intensity than aerobic training. Your heart and lungs get a workout because of the demand from the muscular system, rather than the reverse—your muscles moving because of cardiovascular demand. Anaerobic training requires greater muscular demand than aerobic training, thus elevating your heart rate and building fat-burning lean muscle. A bout of high intensity anaerobic training will also allow you to burn more calories for a longer time following your workout—a definite bonus!


Rahim Samuel said...

I practice martial arts. Many forms of martial arts involve doing a short form of movements which are done in short and fast interval burst. Would martial arts be considered a form of Anaerobic exercise?

Gerard said...

Martial arts can be anerobic or aerobic. It depends on which energy system you are utilizing during the workout. In other words if you are doing kicks on a heavy bag at a slow controlled pace it will be aerobic, but if you explosively kick the bag for 30 seconds so that you greatly elevate your hear rate you will leave the aerobic zone and head into the anerobic zone, the zone that uses ATP not oxygen to complete the exercise.