Understanding Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

You probably perform both types of training regularly. Find out the benefits of each.

Expanding your knowledge of how your body provides energy during aerobic and anaerobic training can help you turbocharge your exercise.

Read on to learn the specifics of each type of training, and how incorporating both can enhance your Aaptiv workout.

How Aerobic and Anaerobic Differ

The terms aerobic and anaerobic describe the two methods that your body uses to provide necessary energy during exercise.


In the aerobic exercise zone, your body fuels the activity by utilizing inhaled oxygen to metabolize stored fuel. Aerobic exercise stays in the moderate to somewhat hard exertion zone. It’s more of a slow burn, allowing your body to continuously exercise for long periods of time. Think cardio workouts such as walking, long distance running, or bicycling.


Anaerobic exercise involves the highest level of intensity you can push yourself to. This type of intense effort can’t be sustained for long because anaerobic fueling relies on your body’s limited stores of muscle glucose, not oxygen, to power the workout. Think all-out sprints, heavy deadlifts, or other HIIT-based workouts.

Check out all the HIIT workouts by downloading the Aaptiv app today!

Why Include Both Types of Training In Your Workout

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

You’re probably familiar with the role of aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise in heart and lung health. It also contributes to regulating your metabolism and building bone strength and muscular stamina. Aerobic exercise can help improve endurance, decrease excess fat, and regulate diabetes-related blood sugar issues.

Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic, or high intensity, training uses energy quickly and the spiked energy burn continues for several hours after exercise. The increased metabolic rate during and after a workout is a plus if you’re looking to jumpstart your metabolism.

In addition, high-intensity strength training boosts muscle mass, a benefit that becomes increasingly important as the years add up.

“Challenging our muscles to build strength becomes especially important as we age, and including higher intensity strength training can help fend off the age-related muscle mass decline,” explains Ellen Houston, MS Clinical Exercise Physiologist at UW Health.

How to Tell What Zone You’re In

A simple tool for determining whether you’re in the aerobic or anaerobic zone is the talk test. During aerobic exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, and not feel so fatigued that you’re gasping for air.

During anaerobic exercise your intensity level is at or near your limit, causing you to breathe so fast and deep that you’re unable to talk. Imagine the exertion it’d take to climb up a steep trail with a heavy pack—that’s the zone you’re targeting.

Because this type of training is so intense, take it slow when adding it to your fitness routine. Always allow time for your body to recuperate after each bout. You can also determine your approximate aerobic and anaerobic heart rate training zone here.

Now that you know what aerobic and anaerobic is all about, work to incorporate both styles of training into your Aaptiv weekly workouts.



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