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Aerobic Vs Anaerobic Exercise – Know The Difference

Madhura Mohan

Posted on August 19 2021


 e hope you all are keeping up on your fitness goals…We wish you hold the zeal all through the year and don’t drop your interest in between as fitness is the core to healthy living. We would also want you to remember the AS-IT-IS mantra, ‘no shortcuts to fitness’!! Yes, guys, motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going, be determined to be satisfied…Well, today’s article addresses the general confusion between aerobic and anaerobic training that most fitness fads hold. Way back in 2019, we had posted a blog on cardio vs weight training to clear your confusion about whether to grab a dumbbell from the stack or to start cycling. In this article, we aim to further elaborate on the same topic, more based on the core subject…here we’ll walk you through aerobic and anaerobic training, make you understand how the 2 training patterns differ.


Aerobic and Anaerobic training are the terms used to refer to the energy system you are using during your training session.

‘Aerobic’ literally means involving oxygen and ‘Anaerobic’ means without involving oxygen.

During aerobic exercise, our body produces energy using oxygen, during anaerobic exercise, energy is produced in the absence of oxygen. Aerobic workout does not tap into an alternate energy source, but during anaerobic training, your body can’t provide the necessary energy to compete it with oxygen intake alone. Come on, let’s go a little in depth to understand the concept better…



During aerobic exercise, the body uses an oxidative system of energy production in which oxygen is used to burn glucose and fats. Oxidative system uses carbs and fats as the primary energy sources, their conversion to ATP will take place in the mitochondria of the cell. Protein is typically not utilized as an energy source during this system unless the exercise exceeds 90 minutes and during starvation.

During anaerobic exercise, the body bypasses the use of oxygen to create quick energy. In this system, the high-energy ATP compound is manufactured through glycolysis, from the breakdown of stored glucose (muscle glycogen) to pyruvic acid in the muscle cells. The pyruvic acid is then converted into lactic acid which quickly dissociates into hydrogen ions and lactate. The anaerobic workout uses another energy system known as ATP-C, which uses a stored molecule in the muscles called creatine phosphate which breaks down to release the phosphate group needed to convert ADP to ATP.



Aerobic exercises are low-intensity, endurance-type workouts that last longer (minutes to hours) due to increased oxygen consumption by the body. Aerobic exercise involves the movement of muscles in a rhythmic and continuous manner for a sustained period. Examples for aerobic training – cycling, running, swimming, treadmill workout, jogging, jump rope, low-intensity dancing.

Anaerobic exercises are high-intensity, short-duration workouts (10-120 seconds). This workout pattern relies on energy breakdown from muscle stores rather than oxygen supply. The anaerobic workout involves strength or power training that involves a short intense burst of physical activity. Examples of anaerobic training – sprinting, weight lifting, squats, pushups, pull-ups, resistance band training, HIIT workout.



Aerobic exercise involves slow-twitch muscle fibers whereas anaerobic exercise involves the use of fast-twitch muscle fibers to carry out high-powered exercises. Slow-twitch muscles fibers are fatigue-resistant, they contain more mitochondria and are focused on sustained movement. Your heart rate goes up during aerobic training in order to increase blood flow to the muscles.

Anaerboic exercise involves fast-twitch muscle fibers, which typically have lower concentrations of mitochondria compared to slow-twitch fibers. The large-sized muscle fibers produce a greater and quicker force. The lower concentrations of mitochondria mean the fast-twitch fibers are quicker to fatigue build-up.



Aerobic workout improves endurance, cardiovascular conditioning, lowers blood pressure, improves lung capacity, help boost mood, aid in weight management and overall fitness level.

Anaerobic workout increases power, boosts metabolism, builds stamina, aid in fat loss, protects from bone loss, increases muscle mass and builds muscle strength.



The World Health Organization has recognized the benefits of both forms of exercise and recommends doing both aerobic and anaerobic training over a period of a week. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity should be coupled with muscle-strengthening or anaerobic exercise involving all major muscle groups on two or more days a week.

While it is convenient to look at the differences with each workout in isolation when you are combining both aerobic and anaerobic workouts, energy will be derived from all three systems depending on the intensity of exercise.


Doing just aerobic (cardio) or anaerobic (strength training) alone won’t get you fitter or stronger…


Combining both the method of training could be the best bet for maximum adaptation, body transformation, power development, building muscle mass, and fat burning…


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Also read: Top 5 Strength Training Workouts For Women


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  • Amit Sumbria: September 16, 2021

    This is a wonderful article. I am in fitness industry from the past 7 years and I usually don’t read full articles as they usually start boring me after sometime. But Kudos!! to the writer. I must say it was the to the point information. I usually recommend 45 mins of Anaerobic and 15 mins of Aerobic afterwards and it had shown great results. Well its not all black and white and diet also plays a major role whether you want to loose weight or want to gain muscle while loosing fat. Exercise, eat, sleep and then repeat…. Wish you a good health…. I have been using Asitis from quite sometime and it has shown some great results to me and my clients. Good Job…keep up the good work!!

  • KRISHNAN S: September 14, 2021


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