Aerobic training is exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body. The word Aerobic means with oxygen. Along with using and improving the body’s oxygen consumption, aerobic training also increases the body’s ability to burn fatty acids during an exercise session. An example of an aerobic exercise session would be one that consists of a warm up, then a moderate level of exercise for an extended period of time that exercises the large muscle groups, and is then followed by a cool down. No matter what the type of exercise, it is important to know that aerobic exercise is very beneficial from fat burning to cardiovascular health and wellness.
Anaerobic training involves exercise that is intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It greatly increases the body’s functional capacity for development of explosive strength and maximization of the short-term energy systems. An example would be non-endurance sports such as body builders using anaerobic training to promote speed, strength, power and muscle mass. This leads to greater performance in high intensity, short duration activities.
Several physiological responses the body will happen with aerobic training. A person’s aerobic capacity will be higher. There will be an increase in trained muscle capacity which is from the capacity to utilize and mobilize fat that is resulting from high amounts of fat metabolizing enzymes as well as increased blood flow. The body also experiences greater development of slow twitch muscle fibers, increased myoglobin content which is essentially an iron-protein compound inside muscle that acts to store and transport oxygen to the muscle. Aerobic exercise improves the body’s use of oxygen, thus increasing the ability to store it and transport it, which results in greater slow muscle twitch fibers.
A number of physiological changes exist with anaerobic training as well, and will show the large difference between the two and what benefit each one is. Anaerobic training increases the size of the fast twitch muscle fibers vs the slow twitch. Creates an increased tolerance to higher levels of blood lactate as well as increases enzymes involved in the anaerobic phase of glucose breakdown. Anaerobic training also produces increase resting levels of ATP, CP, creatine and glycogen content. High intensity weight training in sessions of 45-75 minutes will cause increased growth hormone and testosterone levels.
Because aerobic and anaerobic training focuses on very different results on the body, it is easy to assume there are many different adaptations the body must make if one were to choose to only exclusively train aerobic or anaerobic.
If one were to choose to do only aerobic training for over one year, you would see increased overall cardiovascular health. The body would adapt to using fatty acids for energy and would target the development of slow twitch muscle fibers. Those who choose to train aerobically are your typical 5k, 10k and marathon runners. Aerobic training will create endurance and those who train aerobically will be able to maintain exercise at a certain level for a longer period of time. What the body will not experience is a gain in overall strength. Aerobic training will not give a person gains in overall strength, power or explosive strength abilities. The body after a year has conditioned itself to utilize oxygen, burn fatty acids, and be an endurance machine. After a year, it would be hard for the person to attempt to try anaerobic training such as weight lifting. However, it can be done with the change of one’s fitness goals and training.
If someone were to choose to do anaerobic training for over a year, the body would adapt to using glycogen as fuel instead of the fatty acids used in aerobic training. The body will use the training to develop fast twitch muscle fibers versus slow, as well as build muscle mass, explosive strength and overall power. The choice to use anaerobic training would allow muscle growth and fitness, but not overall cardiovascular health and no endurance. Body builders are your typical anaerobic training clientele. They have tremendous explosive strength and their bodies have adapted to a large amount of strength for a short period of time versus endurance strength over a long period of time. Many body builders use anaerobic training and no aerobic training and thus it’s not uncommon to see an extremely fit body builder who cannot run/walk/jog for even ¼ mile as they have not had any aerobic training to build their cardiovascular health and endurance abilities.