Regardless if you are training for a marathon or just working out at the gym it is important to diversify your routine. Different levels of intensity are important in resistance training and your cardio routine. When it comes to your training it is good to diversity your anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Today we look at the differences – and benefits of each type.

Anaerobic training:
Anaerobic training is referred to as “high-intensity training,” and requires an athlete to push themselves to their limit and ability. Anaerobic exercise raises the heart rate causing your breathing rate to rise as well. You will know you are in anaerobic training when it is difficult to carry on a conversation. Unlike aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise cannot be sustained for long periods of time without resting. Examples of this type of exercise include running up the steps at Red Rocks or heavy lifting at the gym.

When exercising at this intensity level the body tends to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. And, it continues to burn at that higher rate for up to 2 hours after you are done and while your body recovers. This is commonly called “after burn” or “oxygen debt” and can add to exercise’s usefulness when you are trying to manage your weight or cause weight loss. The higher the intensity of exercise, the more calories that will be expended during the recovery phase.

Aerobic training:
Moderately intense training – or Aerobic training, relies on a continual intake of oxygen. During this type of exercise, your body burns fat and glycogen (stored glucose) as its fuel source. We burn calories at a higher rate during the training but then quickly return to our normal fuel-burning rates after.

Aerobic training increases your stamina – especially when you sustain the level for long periods of time. Like running a marathon, or trail hiking. This type of exercise will burn fat, strengthen your lungs, reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity and makes you feel good. The key to knowing if you are performing aerobic training effectively is that it is hard, but not too hard. You can still talk and carry on a conversation, but it is difficult. When you are hiking, biking, swimming you are probably in an aerobic state.

How can these types of training improve my athletic performance?
Both types of training will improve your fitness, overall health, endurance and help fight any unwanted weight gain. However, exercise that is primarily aerobic (i.e. that uses oxygen to make energy) generally results in greater amounts of calories being burned during a given amount of time, as compared to highly anaerobic exercise. For example, a person who runs for 1 hour, at a pace of 8 minutes per mile, will expend about 800 calories. The same person who does a vigorous resistance-based workout will expend about 400 calories in the same amount of time. While the oxygen debt after resistance training is somewhat higher than after endurance training, the total caloric expenditure will still be less. The best choice when designing exercise programs for weight loss is to include both highly anaerobic, resistance-type training for maintenance of muscle, and aerobic exercise for its ability to burn calories and to improve overall cardiovascular fitness.

The specific amount and types of training will depend upon your specific sport and are best tailored by an experienced trainer, with physician guidance if health issues or sports injuries are a factor in achieving or returning to peak performance.

Happy training Denver!

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