We’ve been asked many times what anaerobic exercise is and why anyone should choose to do it. People know what aerobic exercise is and it is more commonly talked about which means that anaerobic doesn’t get it’s the time in the sun that it deserves. Lemme just tell you, I LOVE ANAEROBIC EXERCISE. It’s awesome and super beneficial (just like aerobic; but this blog is about the short, powerful anaerobic stuff).


There are a few different definitions, but I prefer the definition from Mosby’s Medical Dictionary:

“Any short-duration exercise that is powered primarily by metabolic pathways that do not use oxygen. Such pathways produce lactic acid, resulting in metabolic acidosis. Examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting and heavy weightlifting.”


This is the opposite of aerobic exercise. This type of exercise helps build speed (think sprints), power (think jumping), and strength (think weightlifting). Because you are utilizing stores within your body they say that these movements can only be sustained for less than about 16(ish) seconds. Anaerobic exercise is typically what you are utilizing if you are hitting the weight room at your local gym. This is the type of exercise that you use to get faster, stronger and more powerful. Also, the cool thing about anaerobic is that this type of exercise utilizes a different bodily fuel system (as opposed to aerobic).


When you don’t use oxygen to convert energy to get through a [anaerobic] workout, the body has a really amazing response…it utilizes STORED ATP, converted (through anaerobic glycolysis) muscle glycogen, and creatine phosphate that is already available within the body. The byproducts of this energy system is lactic acid which, when exercising intensely, leads to the sore muscles after a workout. Thankfully this lactic acid pain/soreness is typically temporary and a VERY normal. Side note: lactic acid WILL build up in the muscles during aerobic exercise as well due to the use of carbohydrates as the main fuel source. Complicated, yes. Cool, absolutely.


Now, whether you are working within aerobic or anaerobic depends on your overall output (intensity). The higher the intensity and the less rest puts you into the aerobic realm much faster but can also lead to reduced power output while training.  So, depending on the overall goal and exercise choice, varying your work-to-rest ratio can lead to a plethora of benefits.


If you have questions about training, need a personal trainer to help you get started, or just want a local gym in Fort Collins that offers 24/7 access, give us a call. We would be happy to chat with you about training options or memberships. We’re here so that you can reach your goals.