Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise

There are only two types of exercises: aerobic and anaerobic. Understanding the benefits of each type would enhance your workouts.

“Aero” is Greek for air or, in the context of fitness, relates to oxygen. Aerobic and anaerobic exercises are associated with slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, respectively.

In aerobic exercises, oxygen is used to fuel metabolism. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are geared for more efficient oxygen consumption and therefore are built for distance running, swimming, cycling, and other endurance exercises. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are long and lean.

Anaerobic exercises, in contrast, utilize fast-twitch muscles for quick burst movements that do not require oxygen to fuel muscle contraction. Examples of anaerobic exercises are weight lifting and sprinting. Since anaerobic metabolism do not use oxygen for fuel, certain chemicals are released that impair muscle contractions. We call this fatigue. Slow-twitch muscles are thicker compared to slow-twitch.

So if you want to to build strength and size, you would want to target fast-twitch muscles. You could only do so with anaerobic exercises. On the other hand, if your goal is stamina and endurance, then you would want to work on those slow-twitch muscles.

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