What Is An Anaerobic Exercise?

What is an anaerobic exercise? Unlike the aerobic exercise where oxygen is used and where there is a continually increased heart rate, an anaerobic training is just short term, which causes no constant increase in heart rate. Strength training with weights is a good example of anaerobic training. This form of training is not suitable for developing the cardiovascular system, but it helps to develop muscles.

There are a few anaerobic exercises to be distinguished:
  • Isotonic exercises: These exercises ensure that you contract muscle because they need to lift a certain weight. Weight can also be replaced by a certain resistance. Strength training with weights is a form of isotonic exercises.
  • Gymnastics exercises: These exercises are often grafted on improving mobility and agility.
  • Isometric Exercises: This last group of aerobic exercises are exercises where your muscles should work without moving your joints. An example of this is pushing a stationary car.
What is aerobic? When speaking of aerobic exercise and anaerobic training, one focuses on the energy systems that use the muscles for their energy needs. As mentioned, your body gets the energy from the diet and the fact that oxygen is used to generate this energy determines the difference between an aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

For example, aerobic exercise is often a prolonged activity, with breathing and heart rate increased. An aerobic exercise actually means that more oxygen is consumed in the body. This form of training often strengthens the overall condition and the cardiovascular system. Under the cardiovascular system we understand the heart and lungs. When performing an aerobic exercise, your heart rate should be at a constant and increased rate for a period of approximately 20 minutes. Some examples include running, rowing, cycling and crosstraining.

Difference aerobic vs anaerobic metabolism

The first way (ATP-CP system, or phosphate system) is the easiest and fastest way to generate ATP and this occurs without the presence of oxygen (anaerobic). The name Adenosine tri phosphate implies that the adenosine is linked to three phosphates. Cleavage of one of these phosphates yields energy. When ATP is used to provide energy (about 7.3 kcal per ATP) then there remains ADP (adenosine di phosphate, Adenosine with two phosphates) and a loose, phosphate molecule on. CP represents creatine phosphate stored in skeletal muscle. Before ADP can release energy again, this phosphate group needs to be replenished and it is delivered by the stored creatine phosphate in the body. Thus, carbohydrates and fats or proteins are not used in this process. This type of ATP generation occurs especially during very intensive, short-term training courses. For example, short sprint activities (100m), powerlifting but also at high and jump. This way, only 10 to 15 seconds of energy can be delivered to all muscles, after which depletion takes place. It is also not possible to store large amounts of ATP in the muscles, only a small amount of intensive activity for a few seconds. This system is immediately ready to deliver energy and is therefore always active first. This is also the case when you get up from your chair while this (for healthy people) is of course no intensive action.

In the Anaerobic energy system glucose and glycogen are degraded in the absence of oxygen, the final product of that reaction is lactic acid. In the aerobic energy system, the process is the same, only oxygen is present, leading to another end product called pyruvic acid (pyruvic acid). This final product is important for the second process of the aerobic system called the Krebs cycle. Pyruvic acid is converted to the molecule acetyl coenzyme A . The complete oxidation (oxygen combustion) of this molecule produces two units of ATP with the by-products of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. These hydrogen ions associate with other enzymes and ultimately supply that energy to the electron transport chain . The complete metabolism of 1 glucose molecule can thus generate approximately between 35 and 40 ATP. Either 18 times more than via the Anaerobe system.

Fat can also be burned with the presence of oxygen. Triglycerides must first be converted into free fatty acids. These are then converted into acyl-Coa molecules which, in turn, enter the Krebs cycle. In this way, fat can produce 129 ATP molecules, which is more than carbohydrates. On the other hand, burning of fat requires more oxygen to generate ATP. As a result, the supply of energy from fat is less efficient causing carbohydrate the preferred and appropriate fuel for the production of ATP remain .

The aerobic system is not fast in producing ATP, but it has the ability to produce energy for a much longer period. Indeed, a greater fat supply can be applied than glycogen from carbohydrates that can only provide energy for 30 to 40 minutes to maximum effort. An "excess" of carbohydrates is therefore converted to body fat as a spare fuel by means of insulin.


The body has 3 energy systems to provide for its continuous energy needs. The difference between the anaerobic and aerobic exercise lies mainly in the fact that the body and muscles come to her energy. If the body generates these with oxygen, we speak of the aerobic system. If no oxygen is used here, we speak of the anaerobic system.

To conclude with an example:

If you start running, your body initially begins with an anaerobic training form to get her energy. After the first 3 minutes, only oxygen changes and your body changes from an anaerobic phase to an aerobic phase.