Aerobic vs Anaerobic which is better? The truth they both are essential however they have different purposes and a well designed program will address both. So lets get down to the science.
Aerobic- Simply means with oxygen. This means you are working out at a level where you are getting enough oxygen so your body can use fat as its primary source for fuel.
Anaerobic- Means without oxygen. This means that you are working so hard that your body can no longer use fat as fuel and instead uses glycogen (sugar) as its source of fuel.
So when you get down to the basics the different types simply refer to the fuel source used to fuel the exercise. As I have stated in previous posts the type of fuel source is not really that important when it comes down to weight loss it is the deficit you create in calories consumed versus calories burned. The way you create the deficit is not as important.
Ok so lets address the benefits of the two.
Aerobics has been highly touted as the best way to burn fat. The reasoning is that the body uses fat as fuel during aerobic exercise which is good. However it is not the only way to burn fat. Your body uses fat throughout the day to fuel your metabolic processes as well as during your workouts. The major benefit of aerobics is the affect it has on your heart. Aerobic exercise works the heart for an extended period of time making it more efficient. Meaning that it has to work less overall throughout the day. So some form of aerobics or cardio training is essential to a well balanced training program. More on techniques later.
Anaerobic is generally associated with strength training. Your body does not generally burn fat when you are lifting weights because there is not enough oxygen. However interval training also has you working in anaerobic zones. This means that you are working so hard that you are no longer getting enough oxygen to use fat as the primary fuel source this is not a bad thing. It also has cardiac benefits as you push your heart to higher levels your body rebuilds to make it more efficient just like you get with cardio.
So now lets discuss how this affects you. What is the best way to burn fat and get the cardio benefits of both types of exercise? The truth is there is some controversy around this. One camp says aerobics is essential (by the way I am a cardio junkie) and I agree it is important. It is a great way to elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time giving you cardio benefits as well as burning some fat. However the other side says you are wasting your time on cardio and you can save time by focusing on anaerobic training. An example of anaerobic training is HIIT training or high intensity interval training which is a great way to burn fat. However you should not do it everyday.
According to AFAA you should aim to work at a higher intensity (ex interval training) instead of long endurance cardio workouts. The reason is that you burn more calories doing higher intensity exercise than you do during steady state cardio. So it ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out. The higher the intensity the more calories you burn and thus the more fat you burn.
The bottom line is both modalities are important but depending on time constraints and your personal preferences you can design a program that works best for you. For example I love cardio so I do it regularly however I also include strength training and HIIT Training. The combination gives me the best results. However if you do not like cardio you can perform a circuit that gives you cardio benefits as well as strength benefits (a post on circuit training coming soon). So you need to figure out your goals and available time and then create a program that works for you. As always get your doctors consent and I highly recommend getting a trainer or a dvd program designed by professionals so you know you are working out safely.
A post on HIIT training is in the works. Thanks for reading please share and as always subscribe I have lots of great info planned.
To your health,