You’ve heard of aerobic exercise, but are you familiar with anaerobic exercise and its benefits? This sometimes-underrated form of exercise can help you get the fitness results you want. Let ZOZOFIT's guide help you understand how these exercises can help advance your fitness journey.
Unlike aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise occurs without oxygen. Although you’re breathing the entire time you’re performing these exercises, your body can’t distribute the oxygen to your muscles fast enough to keep them oxygenated. This is because the working of your muscles is so powerful and intense that your body can’t supply them with oxygen fast enough. To get the energy required to complete the movements, your body taps into its glycogen stores and uses them as fuel.
Learn more about the benefits of anaerobic exercise and discover the best anaerobic exercises you can try today.
Benefits of the Best Anaerobic Exercises
When the muscles of your body are forced to perform without using oxygen as their fuel, they are forced to use stored glycogen as fuel instead. Anaerobic exercise offers many health benefits, including:
- Increased muscle power and strength
- Decreased joint stiffness
- Improved energy and mood
- Increased muscle mass and fat loss
- Decreased blood pressure
Since it’s more difficult for the body to break down glycogen and use it as energy, it’s important to take frequent breaks during anaerobic exercise. You should work in short, intense bursts then let your body recover briefly before going another round.
The Best Anaerobic Exercises To Try
Now that you know the reasons to do anaerobic exercises, it’s time to learn how to perform them. Here are five excellent anaerobic exercises that can help you build endurance and strength.
Though most people think of fast running when they hear the word “sprint,” when it comes to working out a sprint is simply a category of cardio exercises that are done at fast speeds for brief periods. There are running sprints, cycling sprints, skipping sprints and swimming sprints.
To perform a running sprint, simply run at your top speed for a certain distance or period of time. Then give your body time to rest before engaging in your next sprint. Follow the same general guidelines for any other type of sprint you want to engage in. The idea is to use short bursts of maximum energy followed by brief periods of full-body rest.
Weightlifting is generally a slow-and-steady exercise. However, it can also be highly anaerobic depending on how you perform it. To make weightlifting one of the best anaerobic exercises, convert it into a high-intensity exercise by vigorously performing reps within a fixed time period. Though speed is important, it’s equally important to make sure you’re doing these exercises with proper form. Otherwise, you could injure yourself.
For example, to make a regular bench press an anaerobic exercise, load a barbell with weights until you can comfortably lift it. Lie on a flat bench below the barbell, engage the muscles of your core and chest, then lift the barbell and begin performing bench presses. Do as many bench presses as you can while keeping good form for a minute. Then, place the barbell back on the rack and let your muscles rest for up to a minute before repeating the exercises. As you build endurance, you can increase the time intervals to really challenge yourself.
Plyometrics are some of the best anaerobic exercises you can do. They are explosive bodyweight exercises that can improve coordination and muscle power. Common plyometric movements include jump squats, hopping, lunge jumps and skipping. Plyometric moves can rapidly increase the heart rate to up to 90% of its maximum. They are also commonly incorporated into high-intensity interval training workouts (covered later in this guide).
For beginners, jumping rope is a great plyometric exercise. It can condition the body and strengthen the muscles in preparation for more intense plyometric movements. Once you build endurance and strength, you can move on to squat jumps, box jumps and other explosive movements.
Here’s how you can take squat jumps and turn them into one of the best anaerobic exercises:
- Bring your body into a squat with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Swing your arms forward as you explode upward into a jump.
- Land softly on the balls of your feet and immediately move back into a squat.
Repeat these movements for a set of five, then rest for up to 10 seconds between sets. As you grow stronger, add more squat jumps to each set before resting.
Like plyometrics, calisthenics also uses bodyweight as resistance. However, calisthenic movements are much smoother and less explosive than plyometric movements. Common calisthenic exercises include pull-ups, push-ups and triceps dips.
As with the other anaerobic exercises in this guide, you’ll want to perform each calisthenic movement swiftly and intensely for a certain time period. Then rest and allow your body to briefly recover and oxygenate before moving on to the next set.
5. High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (commonly referred to as HIIT) is one of the best anaerobic exercises out there. It’s also highly popular because it yields such great results. HIIT can include a wide variety of exercise types. For example, sprints, weightlifting, calisthenics and plyometrics can all be incorporated into a single HIIT workout.
The idea is to perform each workout at around 90% of your max heart rate for up to 15 seconds. Then, recover for up to 60 seconds. A good HIIT workout doesn’t need to be longer than 15-20 minutes total because it is highly intense.
Track Your Progress While Doing the Best Anaerobic Exercises
One of the most exciting aspects of adopting a workout routine that includes the best anaerobic exercises is that it is likely to yield exceptional results. However, just weighing yourself on a scale or using regular measuring tapes and photos to track your progress can be time-consuming and inaccurate. For the most precise body measurements, invest in a ZOZOSUIT to help you effortlessly track your body’s changes in 3D through the free ZOZOFIT app. Get yours today and start getting accurate measurements and 3D images of your progress.