The essence of fitness is to push your body to its peripheries. But did you know that there are two ways in which this limit is achieved, known as the aerobic and anaerobic thresholds?
While these two metabolisms may sound like they aren’t very different, in practice, however, they are like chalk and cheese. Let's get a little scientific and unpack the difference between them.
Aerobic: your body creates energy through using carbs and fats present in oxygen that produces carbon dioxide and water through breathing and sweating - which takes place even without exercising. Low to moderate-intensity cardio workouts optimise aerobic exercise, with the main beneficiaries being your lungs and cardiovascular system.
These cardio-based workouts include:
· Speed walking
· Skipping rope
· Step aerobics
You’ll find all the equipment you need to complete these workouts on our gym floor, and most of these workouts can also be done in our instructor-led group classes.
Anaerobic: this kicks in when physical exertion is highly increased due to resistance workouts, and the aerobic system can no longer keep up with the body's energy demand. This conversion point is known as the anaerobic threshold and the body starts burning stored sugars to keep up the demand and can usually only be sustained for a short period of time before you must catch your breath.
Examples of these resistance training workouts include:
· High-intensity interval training (TIP: check out our HIIT class)
· Multifunctional or cross-discipline training (TIP: check out our EFT class)
In simple terms: the fitter you are, the longer you can sustain the aerobic metabolism before crossing into the anaerobic threshold. Suppose you run on a treadmill; if you can only run at a set pace for 1 minute before you are winded to the point where you have to slow down – you’re at the limits of your aerobic metabolism where your body still carries oxygen to your muscles. The fitter you become, the longer you can sustain that pace. Subsequently, exercises that no longer carry oxygen to your muscles are considered anaerobic.
On a side note: It’s important to find the balance between these two systems within your training programme, to ensure you get the best results for your body and your fitness levels. Equally important to note is that you should never confuse either of these thresholds with being the “optimal fat burning zone” that relates to your heart rate.
This could easily get confusing so you can always refer to this blog as a reminder, or check out this post we did for a quick at-a-glance highlight whenever you need to revaluate your approach to training or adjust your focus areas. It is always advised to speak to a professional to get the right guidance and help you reach your goals.