Anaerobic Exercise: Everything You Should Know

Do you want to know what anaerobic exercise is? Do you want to learn all about anaerobic exercise and what it does to the the human body?
If you like to work out and want to get the maximum out of your potential, you need to learn how your body and mind reacts when the anaerobic level kicks in.
If you want to get on the next level with both your exercise techniques and knowledge level, keep reading our in depth analysis of anaerobic exercise below.

Exercise is a part of all our lives. We sprint, run, weightlift, skip, squat and do much more to keep ourselves fit. But what many of us do not know is that there are two types of exercise, aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic, as the name suggests mean exercise that you carry out when you have sufficient of oxygen all around you, i.e. outdoor exercises.

On the other hand anaerobic does not mean exercise during insufficient oxygen, rather the extra amount of oxygen that is required by the body to complete a workout or any task.

In this article, we have discussed all about anaerobic exercise, starting from the exercises which result into anaerobic respiration to what happens inside your cells during anaerobic respiration. Stay with us here to know all about anaerobic exercise.

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Imagine you are running a marathon of 400m, you ran past all the other athletes, you are almost out of energy, but you need a little more just to win, and that extra energy comes from anaerobic exercise. During strenuous high intensity and powerful workout, the extra energy you need to complete your workout comes from anaerobic respiration.

Anaerobic exercise is when you are burning glucose in your body without the help of oxygen. The respiration which occurs in your cells produces extra energy for a short period of time to allow you to get your work done. 

Exercises which mostly require anaerobic respiration is weightlifting, sprinting, rope-skipping, cycling, strength training and, all other forms of high intensity interval training (HIIT). People who do not work out at all will need anaerobic respiration when climbing stairs, trekking or during swimming.

Difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

1. Aerobic Exercise Requires Oxygen to produce Energy

When you are carrying out any anaerobic activity or exercise, your body requires oxygen to breakdown glucose to produce energy in the form of ATP. In the process, your heart rate increases, your metabolism gets fasters and effective and breathing rate increases too. A higher breathing rate means you need to get more oxygen to travel to your muscles for aerobic exercise to produce energy. 

Low intensity, medium paced and other endurance sports such as running, biking, and few low-intensity strength training are known as aerobic exercise. These exercises are beneficial for your body in many ways. 

2. Anaerobic Exercise when your body needs energy in lack of oxygen

When your body needs extra energy in times when there is insufficient amount of oxygen, the body switches to anaerobic respiration to produce energy without the help of oxygen. This anaerobic exercise are for short period of time and the amount of energy produced is also less, but effective enough to cause a lot of changes in your body.

Mechanism of Anaerobic Exercise

1. Cellular mechanism

Anaerobic exercise involves anaerobic respiration which occurs during a cellular process called glycolysis. During glycolysis glucose is converted to pyruvate, and instead of enteric the acetyl-coA (TCA cycle), the pyruvate is converted into lactic acid. An enzyme lactate dehydrogenase catalyzes the reaction.

During this process an ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is produced. ATP is the primary energy source for all living organisms. For each molecular of glucose 1 ATP molecule is produced. So the amount of extra energy people need the corresponding amount of glucose is burned to produce that amount of ATP. 

2. Lactic acid replenishment 

As lactic acid is produced at an increasing level in the body during anaerobic exercise, it accumulates in the muscles. If too much lactic acid is produced which crosses the lactate threshold levels is causes muscle fatigue and joint pains. As a result the lactic acid needs to be depleted. After your exercise or workout session, when you sit down and take deep breaths you replenish the oxygen that was required. The replenishment of oxygen helps to reduce the lactic acid levels in your muscles and bring it back to normal. 

The lactic acid is converted back to pyruvate and the pyruvate then enters the TCA cycle and carried out downstream cellular mechanisms.  Many personal trainers and weight loss professionals using anaerobic exercises to help their clients to lose weight, train muscles for power and buildup and helps to increase their endurance levels.

3. Anaerobic exercise energy expenditure

In our body, it is the fast twitch muscles which require anaerobic exercise more than the slow twitch muscles. Any workout that involves fast twitch muscle fiber requires anaerobic metabolic system to operate. High intensity interval training for a brief period of time results into anaerobic respiration within the first few minutes, as it causes the heartbeat of a person to rise by 90%. Other intense exercise like running for 4 minutes straight causes significant amount of anaerobic expenditure of energy. 

It is difficult to measure how much energy expenditure is resulting due to anaerobic exercise. Perhaps in a calculated anaerobic condition the maximum measuring the amount of lactic acid accumulated from muscles mass or from the amount of oxygen depleted can be used to calculate energy expenditure.    

The Aerobic System that activates during anaerobic exercise

How anaerobic exercise benefits the body

  • It helps to strengthen bones 
  • Helps to burn fat and calories
  • Increases stamina and endurance 
  • Helps to build muscle and increase lean muscle mass 
  • Helps to fight depression
  • Helps to increase lactic acid threshold in the muscles
  • Projects joints and tissues
  • Reduces risk of disease in the body
  • Helps to boost energy

Bottom Line

Now that you have read our article, you should know about anaerobic exercise, the cellular mechanism behind anaerobic exercise, all the benefits and how lactic acid that builds up in the muscles can be reduced to carry out the cycle of glycolysis.

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