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Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise

March 3, 2010

By Gerard Bochese

If you’re interested in losing weight and have been doing a lot of cardio exercise to achieve your goals but have found you’re not achieving the results you want or have hit a plateau, then it’s time to switch from aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is slow, steady state exercise that requires oxygen and can be done for long periods of time. Anaerobic exercise is short bursts of strength and power (weight training, plyometrics, high intensity running intervals) that last only 30-45 seconds and require a chemical in our body (ATP) to perform.

Why the switch? Aerobic exercise is designed to improve your heart and lungs (which is extremely important) but it is not efficient for fat loss. Aerobic exercise decreases the amount of muscle you have. The only tissue in your body that can burn fat is muscle; therefore, we want to have more of it in order to burn fat and increase our metabolism.

Aerobic exercises train your muscles to use fat more efficiently, which causes them to burn less of it. The more you train, the easier the exercises get, and your body burns even less fat.

Anaerobic training is more effective and efficient for weight loss. It’s still cardiovascular, but you’re working at a greater intensity than aerobic training. Your heart and lungs get a workout because of the demand from the muscular system, rather than the reverse—your muscles moving because of cardiovascular demand. Anaerobic training requires greater muscular demand than aerobic training, thus elevating your heart rate and building fat-burning lean muscle. A bout of high intensity anaerobic training will also allow you to burn more calories for a longer time following your workout—a definite bonus!

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