When one talks about physical fitness, it is important to note that it is a summation of 5 basic components, namely: body composition, endurance, flexibility, strength and speed. For now, we will focus on learning about endurance, which is basically defined as the body’s ability to exert itself and maintain activity over an extended period of time.

This includes the ability to resist, withstand, and recover from injury and fatigue. In endurance training — which is further subdivided into aerobic, anaerobic and speed endurance — the body naturally shifts between aerobic and anaerobic energy production, which directly affects performance during exertion and results at the end.


Aerobic VS Anaerobic

To better understand this, one must first understand the difference between the two. When one is performing at the aerobic threshold, which is reaching and maintaining 65% of one’s maximum heart rate, the degree of exertion and demand for oxygen is easily met by the body’s intake of oxygen.

Byproducts are easily just carbon dioxide and water, which are excreted through sweating and breathing. Pushing yourself beyond this threshold kicks the body’s anaerobic energy production into gear, as oxygen intake falls short of the muscles’ demands and the body has to resort to catabolizing other stores of fuel.

This oxygen debt leads to the production of lactic acid in the muscles, causing that all too familiar “burn”. Once the burn from lactic acid build up sets in, it won’t be long till the muscle begins to yield lesser performance. Amount of exertion will have to be dialed down to aerobic levels before oxygen debt is re-balanced and one can return to maximum exertion.


Why Go for Anaerobic

What many active individuals aim for is a more efficient anaerobic threshold and performance, and engaging in anaerobic training programs is the way to go to achieve this state of fortified muscle.

For example, one could enhance physical force within muscle groups and fortify them for better performance by going over a certain limit of weight throughout a certain exercise, which eventually leads to growth of muscle mass.

While this concept of training may lead one to think of the dangers of bodybuilding, a majority of today’s fitness programs focus more on developing muscle functionality, and less on visible muscle changes – although this is eventually a welcome transformation.

So, while bodybuilders may look stronger with their highly defined, shredded muscles and cuts — a fit person with a leaner body developed through functional fitness training programs will always out-perform them.


Anaerobic Fitness VS Bodybuilding

One of the major differences between anaerobic fitness training and bodybuilding is that in the former, all or almost all of the body’s muscles are engaged in a single training session, compared to the intense focus on building a few specific areas of the body that occurs in bodybuilding.

Because total body fitness programs engage more muscles at the same time, both directly and indirectly, sessions don’t have to be longer than the average hour and fifteen minutes for one to see and feel more immediate results without entering a catabolic state, which pumps your body with the stress hormone cortisol and can cause a number of debilitating effects on your body.

Another method of cutting training sessions short without compromising results is doing super-series workouts, which involves exercising antagonistic muscle groups. An example would be shifting between working your chest and back, or biceps and triceps, without taking breaks in between.

One can even turn it up a notch by performing triple or giant series, which is a circuit of three or more exercises one after the other. More muscles engaged at one go means more benefits in a shorter amount of time.

Anaerobic training sessions tend to be the toughest, but because they let you reap maximum rewards in less time and will require rest to allow the muscles to rebuild and fortify themselves for your next anaerobic session. Less strenuous aerobic training days can fill the rest days in between.

If one is strapped for time within the week, fitness programs can also strike a balance between anaerobic and aerobic training by doing the former at the start of the session, then wrapping up with a 15-20 aerobic exercise – all while remembering to avoid entering a catabolic state.


Other Advantages of Anaerobic Training

Anaerobic training is recommended for all body types, entailing only minor differences in training modalities. For example, ectomorphic and mezomorphic body types benefit the most from “workshop training”, which involves 3 or 4 series on a single machine, moving from one group of muscles to the next at the same time.

For endomorphic or overweight individuals, circuit training is recommended, which involves changing the group of muscles engaged for every series, and then repeating the sequence 3 or 4 times. Circuit training induces greater calorie burn by allowing previously workout out muscles to cyclically engage in aerobic activity while other muscles are shifted to anaerobic.

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