Aerobic training is an exercise that involves or improves oxygen consumption by the body. The word aerobic means with oxygen. In addition to utilizing and enhancing 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 works out large muscle groups, and then is followed by a cool-down. No matter what the type of exercise is, it is important to know that aerobic exercise is very beneficial from burning fat to cardiovascular health and wellness.
Anaerobic training involves exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It greatly increases the functional capacity of the body for the development of explosive force and the maximization of short-term energy systems. An example would be non-endurance sports such as bodybuilders who use anaerobic training to promote speed, strength, power, and muscle mass. This leads to better performance in high intensity, short duration activities.
Various physiological responses of the body will occur with aerobic training. The aerobic capacity of a person will be higher. There will be an increase in trained muscle capacity which is due to the ability to utilize and mobilize fat which is the result of high amounts of fat metabolizing enzymes as well as increased blood flow. The body also experiences increased development of slow-twitch muscle fibers, increased content of myoglobin, which is essentially a compound of iron and protein within the muscle that acts to store and transport oxygen to the muscle. Aerobic exercise improves the body’s use of oxygen, thereby increasing the ability to store and transport it, resulting in slower muscle fiber contraction.
There are also several physiological changes with anaerobic training, and they will show the vast difference between the two and the benefit of each. Anaerobic training increases the size of fast-twitch versus slow-twitch muscle fibers. It creates a greater tolerance to higher levels of lactate in the blood and increases the enzymes involved in the anaerobic phase of glucose breakdown. Anaerobic training also produces an increase in resting levels of ATP, CP, creatine, and glycogen content. High intensity weight training in sessions of 45 to 75 minutes will cause increased levels of growth hormone and testosterone.
Because aerobic and anaerobic training target very different results in the body, it is easy to assume that there are many different adaptations the body must make if one chooses to train exclusively aerobic or anaerobic.
If one were to choose to only do aerobic training for more than a year, they would see an increase in overall cardiovascular health. The body would adapt to the use of fatty acids for energy and would focus on developing slow-twitch muscle fibers. Those who choose to train aerobically are typical 5k, 10k, and marathon runners. Aerobic training will create resistance 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 an increase in overall strength. Aerobic training will not give a person gains in overall strength, power, or explosive strength abilities. After a year, the body has been conditioned to use oxygen, burn fatty acids, and be an endurance machine. After a year, it would be difficult for the person to attempt anaerobic training such as weight lifting. However, it can be done with changing fitness and training goals.
If someone chose to do anaerobic training for more than a year, the body would adapt to using glycogen for fuel instead of the fatty acids used in aerobic training. The body will use training to develop fast versus slow twitch muscle fibers, as well as to build muscle mass, explosive strength, and overall power. Choosing to use anaerobic training would allow for muscle growth and fitness, but not overall cardiovascular health or endurance. Bodybuilders are your typical anaerobic training clientele. They have tremendous explosive strength and their bodies have adapted to a large amount of force over a short period of time compared to resistance force over a long period of time. Many bodybuilders use anaerobic training and not aerobic training and therefore it is not uncommon to see an extremely fit bodybuilder who cannot run / walk / jog even ¼ mile as he has not had any aerobic training to develop his cardiovascular health and your endurance skills.