What Is Anaerobic Exercise?

You may not be familiar with the term anaerobic exercise, but chances are these activities are already part of your exercise routine. Read on to find out what anaerobic exercises are and how they can benefit you. If you’re not already practicing some, here are a few reasons why you should start today!

What Is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic exercise isn’t some fad exercise trend. It simply refers to exercises that focus on breaking down glucose without using oxygen. In layman’s terms? They are short activities that are high intensity. This means packing a lot of punch into a brief spurt of exercise.

Anaerobic exercises, like sprinting, weightlifting, or jumping rope, demand your body works to its maximum capacity but only for a short period of time. This helps burn fat and build strong, lean muscle mass.

Aerobic Exercise vs. Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises refer to exercises that are basically the opposite of anaerobic exercise. The aerobic definition is slower-paced, endurance exercise. The anaerobic definition is high intensity, short exercise activities.

Aerobics depend on oxygen. They also include activities that are lower-intensity but intended for a longer duration. Rather than building muscle mass, aerobic exercises burn fat and improve your overall cardiovascular health.

Examples of Anaerobic Exercise

Examples of Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercise can help you build up muscle and burn fat. Here are a few examples of some anaerobic exercises you can try if you’re not already:

  • Weightlifting
  • Jumping rope
  • Sprinting
  • Biking
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

How Does Anaerobic Exercise Compare to Aerobic Exercise?

There isn’t one type of exercise that is better or worse than another in this case. In fact, a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic exercises are a great way to build up a balanced workout. They each provide different benefits, all of which are crucial to your health and development.

What Are the Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise?

Here are a few of the benefits associated with anaerobic exercise activities:

  • Strengthens Bones:  Like resistance training, the anaerobic activity will strengthen and add density to your bones. This is especially important for women.
  • Builds Muscle: If you’re looking to bulk up, anaerobic exercises will help stimulate muscle growth and build bigger, leaner muscles.
  • Burns Fat Faster: Endurance activity can burn fat, as well. But the high-intensity aspect of anaerobic exercise helps burn calories at record speeds.
  • Maintains Muscle Mass As You Age: This can be a serious issue for many people as they age. By age 30, muscle mass begins to deteriorate year after year. This can cause weak bones, muscles, and joints as you age.
  • Boosts Metabolism: High-intensity workouts can train your metabolism to respond quicker, resulting in faster weight loss and quicker muscle gain.
  • Protects Joints: Endurance training activities can overwork some of the same muscles. This is problematic for many people. Quick spurts of high-intensity exercise are easier on the joints.
  • Improves Energy: High-intensity interval training can give you more energy. In fact, almost any exercise can do that, but anaerobic exercise is a quick way to stimulate energy production.

The Risks of Aerobic Exercise

While some may feel intimidated by anaerobic exercise and prefer to stick to aerobics, it’s important to understand the risks. For some people, aerobic exercise may not be the best choice. Here’s why:

  • Endurance activities can put unnecessary stress on the joints. This is particularly problematic for those who are aging, suffer from weak joints or suffer from injuries.
  • If you have been inactive for a long time, it can be difficult for your body to get used to the lengthy activities.

While a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises is ideal for most people, it is best to check with your doctor first. It’s important to stay away from any activities that can upset problems you already have (like back pain or joint pain), as the issues can worsen over time.

How to Perform the Perfect Anaerobic Workout Routine

Perfect Anaerobic Workout Routine


While anaerobic exercises can be great for you, you should still be sure to perform your activities correctly. Here are the correct steps to keep in mind when planning out your workout routine:

  1. Start with a 5-10 minute cardio warm-up to get the muscles ready for your high-intensity training.
  2. Start by working out the largest muscle groups first.
  3. Do at least three sets of 8-15 repetitions of each exercise.
  4. Aim for 8-10 anaerobic exercises.
  5. Complete with a cool down that involves an endurance activity, like a brisk walk or jogging.
  6. Stretch it out. No matter what your exercise routine is like, remember always to stretch out the muscles you have worked out properly before throwing in the towel for the day. This can help promote muscle repair and reduce the risk of injury.


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Proper Form Is a Must

As with any workout, anaerobic exercises are only effective – and safe – when they are being performed correctly. To make sure you are on the right path, consider hiring a personal trainer to help you with your form initially. Or study YouTube clips to see how the body should move and feel when performing various exercises.

No matter how great activity is, it can be detrimental to you if it is not performed correctly. Not only will you not benefit from the effects of the exercise and waste energy needlessly, but you can cause actual harm. Performing exercises improperly can cause injuries that can remain lifelong problems.

The Takeaway

The main thing to remember is that anaerobic exercises push your body to work with the glucose found in your muscles, rather than oxygen. That’s the main difference between anaerobic and aerobic. The idea is to work the muscles, build lean muscle mass, and burn fat. The short, high-intensity activity can help you achieve those fitness goals.

Before starting any workout program, meet with your doctor to discuss your health. This can help you determine which exercises are most beneficial to you and get you on the path to improving your health. Remember, if you want to live a long, healthy life, exercise is non-negotiable.

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