Anaerobic means “without oxygen” and the exercise refers to any physical movement intense enough to cause your body to produce lactate.

This happens when oxygen demand exceeds oxygen supply. Athletes utilize it primarily in non-endurance sports to increase power, speed, and strength as well as increase muscle mass. 

As compared to aerobic exercise, anaerobics use energy already stored in the muscles and trains muscle energy systems to develop differently, yielding greater performance out of short-lived, high-intensity activities, such as powerlifting, typically not exceeding a 2-minute time limit. 

However, high-intensity interval training in some traditionally aerobic exercises such as rowing, cycling, and running can become anaerobic if performed with a heart-rate of more than 90%. 

There are two anaerobic energy systems:

  1. Alactic anaerobic:  high energy phosphates such as adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate.
  2. Lactic anaerobic: Anaerobic glycolysis, or converting glucose into pyruvate. 

Anaerobic exercises teach your body to handle lactic acid efficiently. 

History of Anaerobics

The actual physical origins of anaerobic exercise are hard to pinpoint. We know that the ancient Greeks used various forms of weightlifting techniques known to produce lactate. 

Through the ages, we have come to understand that short, explosive powerlifting moves produced muscle bulk and improved strength and power. What we didn’t know was the process of exactly what was happening inside the body to make this happen. 

It wasn’t until the late 1950s, however, that scientists started to quantify the onset of anaerobic metabolism and measure its output and conversion levels, developing peripheral and cardiopulmonary anaerobic performance capacity, 

How to Perform and Anaerobic Exercises

There are several different types of anaerobic exercise, including: 

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Converting traditional aerobic exercises into anaerobic intervals by sequencing high-energy bouts of movements with rest periods.
  • Weightlifting: Exerting maximum force for a small amount of time is the basis of the  anaerobic process. 
  • Sprints: Instead of going jogging at a comfortable pace for an extended amount of time, sprinting utilizes maximum force by going as fast as you can for a short time. 
  • Isometrics: A form of weight training utilizing stagnant force, wherein the muscle doesn’t contract or change length,.
  • Plyometrics: Jump training or plyos uses anaerobic principles to improve your overall balance, power, and strength. 


The process of making and handling lactic acid in the body has several beneficial effects, including: 

  • Boosted metabolism
  • Protection of your joints to prevent injury
  • Building and maintaining lean muscle mass
  • Increased bone density and strength
  • Improved performance in sports and other athletic activity
  • Increased energy
  • Fights depression
  • Encourages weight loss


There are 5 main varieties of anaerobic exercise:

  1. HIIT exercises such as Cycling, running, or rowing can be done in high-intensity intervals. 
  2. Powerlifting for optimal anaerobic effects involves lifting more weight for fewer reps with high-powered explosive-movement lifts like the squat, press, or deadlift. 
  3. Sprinting utilizes high output in a minimal amount of time. Try short running drills that utilize maximum force, such as 100 meters with dumbells and/or ankle weights. 
  4. Isometric exercises like planks or quats can be beneficial in producing lactic acid. 
  5. Jump training drills such as butt-kicks, one-legged squats, burpees, or jumping rope are effective anaerobic tools. 

Anaerobic Drills ENcourage Overall Workout Performance

If you want to get the most out of your time spent at the gym, incorporating anaerobic movements and processes will increase your ability to run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight.

Close Bitnami banner