Anaerobic Exercises vs. Aerobic Exercises: What You Need to Know

Updated on May 17, 2018
Olivia Philips profile image

Olivia is a nutritionist and diet, fitness, and weight-loss consultant based in Texas. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Food and Nutrition.

Zumba is One of the Best Dancing Exercises
Zumba is One of the Best Dancing Exercises

When it comes to workouts, all of us have different goals to achieve. Some might focus on developing strength for certain sports. Others may just want the cuts and packs to show off, inspired by a movie or a commercial. Some may work out for physical fitness, while others may aim to enhance their performance in rigorous activities like gymnastics.

Basically, training goals vary from person to person. We all look forward to workouts that meet our specific goals easily and effectively. This makes it important to understand how our body benefits from various types of workouts. Each and every type of workout affects your strength, stamina, and flexibility in a different way.

A lot of people work out to reduce weight. In order to cut the excess fat deposited in your body, it's important to make sure of two things. Firstly, the effective reduction of previously stored fat, and secondly, a reduction in the amount of fat that gets stored from your daily calorie intake by increasing the metabolism of the body. Both of these goals will require adhering to rigorous diet and workout plans. You’ll have to stick to them in order to get the desired results quickly.

Read on to learn about the two most common forms of exercises that are used to reduce weight, aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Both of these exercises have their own benefits, and one of the most common benefits is weight loss. We'll go through each of these exercises and conclude by suggesting the best one for weight loss. [1]


Anaerobic Exercises

The term anaerobic means without oxygen. Anaerobic exercises are those exercises which aren’t fueled by the oxygen of your body. Instead, these exercises require your body to momentarily reach a state where the oxygen demand surpasses the oxygen supply. At this stage, a process known as glycolysis takes place. In this process, the glycogen stored in the body gets converted into energy without the involvement of oxygen. This not only helps you build strong, lean muscles but also helps to increase your bone density.

Here are some of the best anaerobic exercises.

  1. Sports: The most common anaerobic exercises include sports that involve a lot of intensive muscle use. This includes every sport from athletics to baseball. The concept is that with few breaks or intervals, you have to use your muscles intensively. Playing soccer or baseball on a regular basis would make for a very good anaerobic workout plan.
  2. Powerlifting: If you prefer the gym for working out and are used to lifting weights, you just need to use the heaviest weights and reduce the time interval for your breaks. With this, your workout gets converted to an anaerobic one. It's simple. You should not give enough time for your muscles to use the oxygen.
  3. Sprinting: All forms of sprints are very good anaerobic exercises. That's because while sprinting your body uses a large amount of energy after every sprint before your muscles try to achieve the required oxygen. Hence, a lower supply of oxygen results in your performing an anaerobic exercise. [2]


Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic on the other hand means involving oxygen. These set of exercises involve low to high-intensity exercises that are meant to increase the metabolism and strength of the body. These exercises are also very helpful in reducing the body weight. The obvious question that arises is, are they more effective than anaerobic ones? Well, we'll get there, but before that, take a look at some of the best aerobic exercises.

  1. Walking- Walking is one of the best aerobic exercises. There is no quick use of energy. Hence, oxygen is used by the body to burn calories and provide energy for exercise. Go for a 2-3 km walk on a daily basis and enjoy the benefits of this aerobic exercise. It's easy to implement on a daily basis as you just need to prefer going on foot instead of using a vehicle for short distances.

  2. Dancing- It's a form of recreational aerobic exercise. Your calories are burnt slowly, yet effectively on a daily basis. It's the easiest exercise, as you don't really think of it as an ‘exercise’, but instead consider it a recreational activity. This helps you to perform it on a regular basis.

  3. Swimming- It's the best-known exercise that is recommended to almost every sportsman. You use the muscles and burn the fat at a good rate. Just one month of regular swimming can show you good results. This aerobic exercise is very easy for your joints and still gives you best possible results among all aerobic exercises. [3]

Well, after discussing both the forms of exercises, let's get down to their effectiveness when it comes to weight loss. By now, you might have understood that aerobic exercise is a light activity that you can sustain over long periods of time as you get constant energy using the oxygen of your body and your daily calorie intake. Anaerobic activity, on the other hand, is bursts of activity for short periods of time. To simplify it, we take running as a simple example. Jogging is aerobic while sprinting is anaerobic. The same form of exercises done in a different way creates the difference between aerobic and anaerobic. At the same time, they bring about changes in our bodies in quite different ways. That said, both of them are helpful in weight loss. So which one is better? To understand that we'll just look at the body metabolism and conclude accordingly. [4]

Both of these exercises help in boosting your metabolism - an effect that will last for hours after the workout.

Aerobic exercise increases your endurance and cardiac health very effectively. While anaerobic exercise will not only help you burn fat but also help you gain lean muscle mass - i.e. you'll be working on your strength as well. In that case, we can say that both of them become equally important. To get straight to the point, anaerobic exercises are intensive and may reduce fat at a faster rate. But that's not what you should choose. To get effective weight loss, you need a combination of both of them.

Start with 60% of your workout time on aerobic exercises and 40% on anaerobic exercises. After a month or two, make it 50-50. After two months make it 40-60% respectively. The wit behind this is that initially, your emphasis would be more on weight loss and building endurance. When you gain endurance and lose a few pounds, your body will be fit enough for more intense workouts. Thus, we keep changing the ratios to 40-60% of your daily workout time. When you reach this level, don’t change the ratio. Instead increase the overall time by a few minutes, every week. What you'll get within a year is a great loss of body weight, plus strong lean muscles. And what more can ask for from a workout? [5]







This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Olivia Philips


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