Health Fitness

Aerobic or anaerobic, what is the best?

Aerobic training is exercise that involves or improves the body’s oxygen consumption. The word aerobic means with oxygen. In addition to utilizing and improving the body’s oxygen consumption, aerobic training also increases the body’s ability to burn fatty acids during an exercise session. An example of an aerobic exercise session would be one that consists of a warm-up, then a moderate level of exercise for an extended period of time that engages large muscle groups, and is then followed by a cool-down. No matter what the type of exercise, it’s important to know that aerobic exercise is highly beneficial from fat burning to cardiovascular health and wellness.

Anaerobic training involves exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. Greatly increases the body’s functional capacity for explosive force development and maximization of short-term energy systems. An example would be non-endurance sports such as bodybuilders who use anaerobic training to promote speed, strength, power and muscle mass. This leads to increased performance in activities of high intensity and short duration.

Several physiological responses the body will go through with aerobic training. The aerobic capacity of a person will be higher. There will be an increase in trained muscle capacity which is due to the ability to utilize and mobilize fat resulting from high amounts of fat metabolizing enzymes as well as increased blood flow. The body also experiences increased development of slow-twitch muscle fibers, increased content of myoglobin, which is essentially an iron protein compound within the muscle that acts to store and transport oxygen to the muscle. Aerobic exercise improves the body’s use of oxygen, thereby increasing its ability to store and transport it, resulting in slower muscle fibers.

There are also a number of physiological changes with anaerobic training, and will show the vast difference between the two and the benefit of each. Anaerobic training increases the size of fast-twitch versus slow-twitch muscle fibers. It creates a greater tolerance to higher blood lactate levels and increases the enzymes involved in the anaerobic phase of glucose breakdown. Anaerobic training also results in increased resting levels of ATP, CP, creatine, and glycogen content. High-intensity weight training in sessions of 45 to 75 minutes will increase growth hormone and testosterone levels.

Because aerobic and anaerobic training focus on very different outcomes in the body, it is easy to assume that there are many different adaptations the body must make if one chooses to train exclusively aerobic or anaerobic.

If one were to choose to do only aerobic training for more than a year, they would see better overall cardiovascular health. The body would adapt to using fatty acids for energy and target the development of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Those who choose to train aerobically are typical 5k, 10k and marathon runners. Aerobic training will build endurance and those who train aerobically will be able to maintain exercise at a certain level for a longer period of time. What the body will not experience is a gain in overall strength. Aerobic training will not give a person gains in general strength, power, or explosive strength abilities. The body after a year has conditioned itself to use oxygen, burn fatty acids and be an endurance machine. After a year, it would be difficult for the person to attempt anaerobic training such as weight lifting. However, it can be done with changing fitness and training goals.

If someone decided to do anaerobic training for more than a year, the body would adapt to using glycogen for fuel instead of the fatty acids used in aerobic training. The body will use training to build fast-twitch rather than slow-twitch muscle fibers, as well as build muscle mass, explosive strength, and overall power. Choosing to use anaerobic training would allow for muscle growth and fitness, but not overall cardiovascular health or endurance. Bodybuilders are your typical anaerobic training clientele. They have tremendous explosive strength and their bodies have adapted to a large amount of force for a short period of time versus resisting force for a long period of time. Many bodybuilders use anaerobic training and not aerobic training and therefore it is not uncommon to see an extremely fit bodybuilder who cannot run/walk/jog even ΒΌ mile as he has not had any aerobic training to build his health cardiovascular and endurance skills.

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