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Aerobic Vs Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic Vs Anaerobic Exercise

Exercise is fundamental to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and understanding the differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercise can help you tailor your fitness routine to meet your goals.

Both types of exercise are essential for cardiovascular health, but they serve different purposes and are powered by different energy systems in the body.

Aerobic Exercise: The Endurance Builder

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, requires oxygen to generate energy. It's characterized by low to moderate intensity activities performed for extended periods.

The word "aerobic" literally means "with oxygen". During aerobic activities, your heart rate increases, and your breathing accelerates to pump more oxygen to the muscles being used.

Key Characteristics:

  • Intensity: Low to moderate.
  • Duration: Extended periods, typically more than a few minutes.
  • Energy System: Utilizes oxygen to break down carbohydrates and fats for energy.
  • Examples: Running, swimming, cycling, and walking.


  • Improves cardiovascular and respiratory health: Regular aerobic exercise increases the efficiency of the heart and lungs.
  • Enhances fat burning: Aerobic exercise is effective at burning fat, making it ideal for weight loss and weight management.
  • Boosts endurance: It increases stamina and overall energy levels.

Anaerobic Exercise: The Power and Strength Developer

Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, does not rely on oxygen for energy production. It involves short bursts of high-intensity activities, where the energy demand exceeds the oxygen supply.

The word "anaerobic" means "without oxygen." This type of exercise uses the energy stored in muscles for short, intense efforts.

Key Characteristics:

  • Intensity: High.
  • Duration: Short periods, usually less than two minutes.
  • Energy System: Relies on energy sources stored in muscles, primarily through the glycolysis energy pathway.
  • Examples: Weight lifting, sprinting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and plyometrics.


  • Increases muscle mass: Anaerobic exercise is key to building muscle strength and size.
  • Improves power: Enhances your ability to perform high-intensity tasks for short periods.
  • Boosts metabolism: High-intensity workouts can increase your metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories even when you're at rest.

Combining Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise for Optimal Health

For a well-rounded fitness routine, it's beneficial to include both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Aerobic exercise will help improve your endurance and cardiovascular health, while anaerobic exercise will build muscle strength and power. Together, they can help you achieve a balanced physique, improve overall fitness levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Incorporating both types of exercise into your weekly routine doesn't have to be complicated. For example, you might focus on aerobic exercises like jogging or cycling on some days and dedicate other days to strength training or HIIT sessions for anaerobic benefits.


Understanding the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is crucial for developing an effective fitness plan. Aerobic exercises are great for building endurance and promoting heart health, while anaerobic exercises are ideal for increasing muscle strength and metabolic rate.

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