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Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

What is Anaerobic Exercise and What are Some Examples?

Integrating anaerobic exercise improves physical health and performance. So unleash fitness potential by giving these 5 anaerobic exercise examples a try!

What is Anaerobic Exercise and What are Some Examples?

When it comes to improving physical fitness, it is important to integrate different forms to unleash fitness potential, anaerobic exercise included.

But what exactly is an anaerobic workout? Learn how you can benefit and give these 5 anaerobic exercise examples a try!

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise: What's the Difference?

Aerobic exercise is long in duration and involves sustained movement. Anaerobic exercise is intense and short-lasting, in which exercise generally ranges between two seconds to two minutes. Because of their differences in nature, they each rely on different energy systems to fuel the workout.

Aerobic means "with oxygen" and anaerobic means "without oxygen." Aerobic exercise uses a continuous supply of oxygen to maintain energy levels. On the other hand, during anaerobic exercise, the body demands more oxygen than the aerobic system can produce and depends on energy breakdown from muscle stores. Simply put, anaerobic exercise is the type you get winded and out of breath during.

Interestingly, though, all workouts are considered anaerobic exercise during the first few minutes as the body adapts. What's more, aerobic exercise can be anaerobic exercise and vise versa. To illustrate, you can intensify cycling speed for quick sprints at least 80 percent of maximum heart rate or slow down the pace to cycle longer distances.

Ultimately, the speed and intensity of the exercise dictates which energy system the body needs to carryout either aerobic or anaerobic exercises.

The Benefits of Anaerobic Exercises

From building muscle to fighting depression, the benefits of anaerobic exercise supports physical and mental health.

• Builds Muscle: When muscles are exerted, the muscle fibers experience small tears that are reformed to build and strengthen the muscle.

• Improves Physical Performance: An increase of fast twitch muscle fibers as well as increase in strength, speed, and power. Regular anaerobic exercise likewise increases the ability to withstand fatigue and accelerates the recovery process.

• Augments Metabolism: Simply put, once muscle mass is increased, metabolism does as well. This is especially worthwhile to assist in weight loss and reduce body fat.

• Supports Weight Loss: In addition to supporting weight loss through muscle building, partaking in anaerobic exercise can continue burning calories at rest, or also known as that "after-burn."

• Fights Depression: While participating in regular physical activity is known to improve mood, a 2018 meta-analysis supports resistance exercise training acts as an alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms.

• Reduces Chronic Disease Risk: Sporting a healthy body weight and lowering body weight staves from the risks of chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

• Strengthens Bones: Weight bearing exercise of any kind not only builds and strengthens muscles, but bones as well. 

• Promotes Healthy Aging: New research published in the European Heart Journal shows intense training promotes healthy aging by protecting for cell death.

While anaerobic exercise is beneficial for good health across the lifespan, the benefits are especially important as the body ages. 

Specifically, muscle mass reduces as years pass by, ultimately slowing down metabolism. And especially in the long run, strong bones reduce the risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle that increases the likelihood of falls and fractures.

So what are you waiting for? Take charge and start implementing these 5 anaerobic examples into your start-up or daily workout regimen!

5 Anaerobic Exercise Examples

1. Weight Lifting

When weight lifting, the body exerts its energy to lift fixed objects. Lifting weights is in a repetitive manner, also known as "reps," and the body rests between each repetition. 

Learning how to weight train the right way is key to minimize injury while maximizing gains, especially if new to the practice. This may include starting with the motion of bodyweight and adding weight with progression. 

Health experts recommend at least two to three weight lifting sessions each week.

2. Sprints

Rather than a steady jog for an extended period of time, sprints are completed at maximum running effort and potential. You exert the highest energy possible for shorter distances rather than running at a steady pace such as in a marathon. 

Practicing sprints can also help speed up pace for longer running distances.

3. Plyometrics

Also known as simply "plyos" or jump training, plyometrics is an excellent anaerobic activity to improve power, strength, and balance. 

Example exercises of plyometrics include jump squats, one-legged hops, and other series of jumps which may also include jumping onto boxes or over cones.

4. Isometrics

Unlike plyometric, isometric exercises are a form of weight training. But in isometric exercises, the muscle does not change length or contract. Utilizing isometrics can be especially useful in maintaining strength and enhancing stabilization.

Isometric exercises are mostly low-impact and do not require full range of motion, making them valuable for those managing arthritis and other conditions that provoke pain.

5. High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), including Tabata workouts, transforms typical aerobic exercise into an anaerobic exercise by interchanging high bouts of movement with periods of rest. For instance, an individual would complete a normally considered aerobic exercise, such as cycling, in high bursts of energy. 

Recovery periods would accommodate shortened bursts of energy to allow the body to catch up and breathe.

Tips for a Safe, Effective Anaerobic Workout

While the benefits of anaerobic exercise are undoubted, there is also no denying becoming exhausted quickly reveals a tough workout. And especially if new to exercise or inexperienced in anaerobic exercise, there is a greater risk of injury.

Fortunately, there are tips to help carryout a safe, yet effective anaerobic workout. Common recommendations include:

• Especially if managing a health condition or taking a prescription medication, consult with a doctor to ensure the safety of anaerobic activity.

• Start light and slow! Intensity and weight can always be increased. But overdoing it can create painful injuries and muscle strains.

• Before starting any exercise, always warm-up for at least three to five minutes leading up to exercise. Warm-up with light jog, bike ride, jumping jacks, or any other preferred exercise to elevate heart rate.

• Complete one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, also dependent on anaerobic exercise type and experience.

• Try out various workouts for size, as the best anaerobic exercises are only the ones you will consistently do!

• Cool down and stretch once completed to reduce pain and stiffness. Reduce heart rate with a light walk and stretch out muscles, breathing deeply throughout and holding stretches for 10 to 30 seconds.

As with any workout regimen, always remember the importance of recovery and allow the body to rest at least one or two days of the week. The body may also may need more time time recover when first starting a training course.

Likewise, be sure to fuel properly with good nutrition and maintain hydration status to maximize performance, recovery, and the benefits of an anaerobic workout.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 11, 2016. Updated on October 20, 2020.


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