Anaerobic exercise: Pushing your limits

March 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Endurance Training

Article by Greg McKenzie

Anaerobic exercise is where the body is exercising at such a rate that the blood stream cannot supply oxygen to muscles fast enough.

Anaerobic exercise is essentially exercise without oxygen. This happens during high intensity and cannot be held for long periods of time. A product of your muscle exercising in an oxygen deprived environment is large amounts of lactic Acid. Lactic acid begins building up inside the muscle at a rate faster than it can be cleared creating muscle failure.

Anaerobic exercise does not refer to respiration as a whole, but rather to anaerobic muscle respiration. The muscle will still get oxygen, but it will not be sufficient to meet the activity’s demands. Anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold are terms for anaerobic capacity. It is the stage in anaerobic exercise where lactic acid forms in the muscle at a rate faster than the rate at which it can be shed by the muscle.

This is considered the best measure of an athlete’s physical shape. An athlete that has a higher VO2Max is typically consider fitter, yet an athlete with a lower VO2Max and higher anaerobic threshold can go much further faster without muscle failure than an athlete with high VO2Max and a low anaerobic threshold.

One thing that can genuinely improve your anaerobic threshold is training. Great anaerobic sports include basketball, football, rugby, hockey and soccer. Anaerobic sport is when you do spurts of high intensity exercise. Weight lifting and interval training are examples of anaerobic workouts.

Exercises that bring and hold you above your anaerobic threshold for longer amounts of time can actually improve your anaerobic threshold. The High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) exercise routine can achieve this. HIIT allows you to spend a long cumulative time in an anaerobic state by alternating high intensity activities with periods of rest and recovery.

To find out more about HIIT visit

Greg McKenzie is the creator of, the most complete resource on Interval Training and HIIT on the Internet

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