The term ‘anaerobic' means ‘without oxygen.' Anaerobic exercises can not last for long periods of time because they do not use oxygen for energy and lactic acid is produced in the muscle cells as a by-product. Lactic acid build up effects muscle action and function. Anaerobic exercises use muscles at a high intensity for a short period of time.
Anaerobic exercises must be coupled with recovery periods. Lactic acid can contribute to muscle fatigue and lactic acid to be converted by the body during a recovery period before another anaerobic exercise can be performed. During the recovery period, the muscles will use oxygen to assist in replenishing the energy that was used during the anaerobic exercise.
Anaerobic exercise requires a person to move at an increased pace or to perform the exercise with greater effort compared to an aerobic exercise. In theory, exercising anaerobically can cause the body to burn more calories than aerobic exercising. However, during anaerobic exercies, oxygen is not delivered in sufficient quantities to allow the cells to continue burning fat. Instead, the muscle cells burn mainly carbohydrates which burn more quickly and do not require oxygen.
It is especially important to stretch before and after doing any anaerobic exercise since specific areas on the body are usually targeted during the workout. Common examples of anaerobic exercise include sprinting, push ups, pull ups, and lifting weights.
It is usually recommended that a person do anaerobic exercises for 10 to 20 minutes two to three times a week in addition to aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercises involve repetitions. Beginning exercisers may want to start with one set of 10 to 15 repetitions and build up to two or three sets as their muscles become stronger. If using weights, it may be recommended to choose one that is about half of what would require a maximum effort in one repetition. It is important for a person doing anaerobic exercises to focus on slow rhythmic breathing and to try to avoid holding their breath. Holding the breath during exercising and straining can promote injury.
Anaerobic exercise is not nearly as effective for directly burning fat as aerobic exercise is. However, anaerobic exercise helps burn fat indirectly by increasing the metabolic rate after the exercise session. Because anaerobic exercise builds muscle and muscle requires energy in the form of calories, more calories are being burned even when the body is at rest. Other heath benefits from anaerobic exercise include an overall increased metabolism, the ability to consume more calories without gaining weight due to the increased metabolism, the promotion of lean muscle mass, and the toning and firming of muscles.
The three kinds of anaerobic exercise are isotonics, isometrics, and calisthenics. Isotonics challenge the muscles for a full range of motion against a resistance that moves. Examples of isotonics include weightlifting with dumbbells and barbells or using springs or bands. As each muscle moves through its complete range, isotonic contraction creates tension in the muscles throughout the entire exercise. Isotonics allow for the exercise of specific muscle groups.
During an isometric exercise, muscles contract but there is no motion in the affected joints. Muscle fiber length remains constant throughout the entire exercise. Isometric exercises are usually performed against an immovable object such as a wall. Isometric exercises may be effective for developing the total strength of a particular muscle or muscle group. In order to increase strength, it may be beneficial to hold each exercise for 6 to 8 seconds and repeat it 5 to 10 times.
Calisthenics is a type of anaerobic exercise usually performed without weights that helps increase body strength and flexibility. Calisthenics is a type of isotonic exercise that uses the body weight as the resistance force. Common examples of calisthenic exercises include sit-ups, push-ups and squats. Click here to see actual video examples of Calisthenic exercises.