January 2, 2019

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Workouts

Not all exercise is created equal. If you have been part of the fitness community for any sort of time, you’ve heard at least one person claim that running burns the same calories as walking the same distance — so why is it that running or any high heart-rate activity feels like such a better workout?

The answer to this question involves the levels of oxygen required to to perform the activity — otherwise known as, aerobic and anaerobic respiration. During an aerobic exercise you posses enough oxygen to sustain your current level of activity without having to “borrow” oxygen from another energy source. However, during an anaerobic workout — you do not possess enough oxygen to sustain the demands being placed on your body or more precisely, your muscles. As a result, your muscles begin to break down sugars to sustain the current level of exercise.

To put it simply, aerobic exercise is any light activity that you can engage with during a long period of time including jogging, yoga, pilates — and long distance running. Anaerobic exercise includes activities that you can sustain for shorter periods of time including sprinting, HIIT intervals, and plyometric exercises.

The good news? Both types of exercise burn fat and boost your metabolism. So, how do you know which exercises are best for you? The answer depends on factors such as your body type and your personal goals — however, for the best results most exercise classes incorporate both types of exercise.

In fact, even the human body relies on both aerobic and anaerobic energy production, during any type of exercise. But, the intensity and duration of each production (aerobic vs. anaerobic) depends on which system is being emphasized.

When you first begin to exercise, your body can’t immediately meet your energy needs with the oxygen available, so it uses anaerobic respiration to make up for its deficit. If you continue doing repeated, short-duration work — your body stays in anaerobic production. However, if your exercise lasts longer than two or three minutes, your aerobic metabolism has time to catch up & takes over. To view the energy systems used by exercise intensity & duration, see below:

Energy System Use by Exercise Intensity and Duration

Intensity Duration Energy System Used
Extremely high 0–6 seconds Phosphagen (Anaerobic)
Very high 6–30 seconds Phosphagen and Glycolitic (Anaerobic)
High 30 seconds to 2 minutes Glycolytic (Anaerobic)
Moderate 2–3 minutes Glycolytic and Oxidative (Aerobic)
Low 3 minutes + Oxidative (Aerobic)

So, which is the best type of exercise if your goal is to lose weight? Studies show: Anaerobic. Anaerobic exercise produces greater fat loss because it keeps your metabolism elevated for longer after you workout. In fact, during exercise, if you keep in anaerobic respiration — you never makeup the initial oxygen deficit that you begun with. This keeps your body in “oxygen debt” — a debt that you must repay and one that keeps your body’s metabolism elevated for hours (or even days) after you workout. This science has even earned it’s own name— EPOC or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption aka. the “afterburn effect”.

At Fitbox Method, our scientifically-proven workout focuses on keeping the body in anaerobic respiration for as long as possible. To achieve this, we incorporate weights, HIIT intervals, plyometrics, and high-speed floor & bag work in an effort to maintain each individual’s heart rate at 80% of your maximum heart rate — or the anaerobic zone.

You WILL lose fat while simultaneously building lean muscle and boosting your metabolism for hours after your last workout. Our curriculum focuses on high interval training (HIIT) and a cardiovascular exercise strategy that combines short bursts of intense cardio training (anaerobic respiration) and less-intense training recovery periods (aerobic respiration).

Fitbox Method is a lifestyle, hospitality-inspired Miami Boxing Gym that offers a free trial class to anyone interested in learning how to box, lose weight, or commit to their ultimate health.


Anaerobic vs. Aerobic Exercise: Which Burns Fat Faster?