Benefits of Anaerobic and Aerobic Training on Your Energy Systems

By: Coach Gannon

Hey guys! So today I wanted to focus on the two different types of Energy system training we most commonly see in Crossfit; Aerobic, and Anaerobic training. Hopefully after taking the time to read the information provided below you will walk away with a better understanding of how these two general concepts of training affect your body differently.

When talking about anything “anaerobic” it means the body is in absence of oxygen. So during any type of anaerobic exercise, your body’s demand for oxygen is so great that the available oxygen supply is unsustainable. Well, since it would be impossible for your body to work without some sort of energy source, the body instead turns to energy found within the muscles. Most anaerobic exercise is high in intensity, and short in duration. So lets look at how these type of exercises benefit the body:

Improved Muscle Strength

Anaerobic exercise can help directly with the increase of fast twitch muscle fiber in your body. Fast twitch muscle fibers are what your body calls upon to give it that extra powerful energy that is essential when you need to perform some sort of intense activity such as lifting a heavy object, or putting on a burst of speed.

Increases Muscle Mass

These intense bursts of exercise required of the body during anaerobic exercise cause micro-tears in the muscles. I know, this sounds kind of scary and bad, but I promise it is actually the opposite. By creating these micro-tears it is the body’s natural response to immediately repair these tears, which in turn helps your muscles to become stronger, more toned and larger in size.

Increased Metabolism

Fun fact: Muscle tissue is hungrier than fat. So, by boosting your muscle mass through anaerobic training (activating your fast twitch fibers creating small micro-tears), you will create more muscle tissue. Having more “hungry” muscle tissue causes a boost in your metabolism. So that means, muscles are hungrier in the hours following high-intensity anaerobic exercise. Meaning that your body will burn more fuel for several hours following a high-intensity exercise session as opposed to the amount of fuel your body burns normally while at rest.

Moving onto Aerobic exercise it can be noted that there is a big difference. Aerobic exercise requires pumping of oxygenated blood to the working muscles, while as seen above; anaerobic training is done in the absence of oxygen. Below I have provided a couple examples of how this style of energy system training can also benefit your body.

Increased Glycogen Stores

Aerobic exercise predominately uses fat for fuel, but a small amount of carbohydrates is also used. Carbs can be looked at as a fuel source that is stored in your muscles in the form of glycogen. All glycogen is, is the combination of glucose (a type of simple sugar) molecules with water molecules. So with aerobic training your glycogen stores increase in size as you get fitter, and as a direct result creates an increase in muscle endurance, which is a vital role in any energy system training. This process can also increase our stroke volume (amount of blood the heart can pump in one beat), which helps regulate fatigue within the muscles by supplying them with the needed oxygen.

Improved Muscular Endurance

Aerobic exercise typically uses a high volume and low-intensity muscular contractions. Your muscles are broadly made up of two types of muscle fibers: slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. So if you remember, above we talked about the benefits of fast twitch fibers in anaerobic training, well it is opposite when it comes to aerobic. Aerobic exercise mostly uses your slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers don’t necessarily build muscle but instead easily increase in work capacity over time, which improves the metabolic pathways that allow more oxygen to be transported to the muscles. When this oxygen can be properly transported to the muscles, it then in turn can help reduce the amount of lactate formation, and improves the rate of lactate removal (This is the “pump/fatigue” feeling you get after a long set, or short bursts of exercise.) allowing the body to burn energy for longer periods of time.

Increased Energy Levels

In addition to muscle fiber improvements, cells within your muscles called mitochondria, which are responsible for producing the energy yielding compound ATP, increase in both size and number. So by these increases it causes reduced stress, higher natural energy, and improved mental health due to the release of endorphins in the brain.

Attached below is a great read from OPEX Remote Coach Robin Lyons that will expand on what I just was able to tell you. In addition to a great-simplified explanation, Robin also provides a basic template of what your aerobic exercise should look like. This will help when differentiating between workouts posted week to week in your Reviver programming. Thanks again for taking the time to read guys! Have an awesome rest of the week!!!