"Raising Your Anaerobic
copyright 2003 by Greg Landry, M.S.
Your body is able to produce energy in two ways; aerobic
and anaerobic metabolism. Aerobic metabolism is the energy
system used 99% of the time. It's how you produce energy
when you are able to take-in and use enough oxygen to
meet your body's current energy demands. For example,
this is what you use when you're sleeping and going about
your normal daily activities.
Anaerobic metabolism is sort of an emergency form of
energy production that your body uses when is isn't able
to take-in and utilize sufficient oxygen to meet current
demands. You would use this when you're exercising at
a high intensity for a short period of time.
The exercise intensity at which you begin to switch over
from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism is called the "anaerobic
threshold." At this point your rate of breathing
increases significantly as several physiological parameters
change due to a lack of oxygen in the working muscle cells.
For example, the lactic acid level in the blood increases
along with an increase in the production of carbon dioxide.
This is also the point at which you begin to notice marked
fatigue and this marks the beginning of the end. Your
muscles will soon lose the ability to maintain that intensity
and you will either have to slow down, to an intensity
below your anaerobic threshold, or stop.
Runners and other endurance athletes learn to train just
below their anaerobic threshold. It's the fastest pace
they can maintain consistently, for more than just a few
minutes. You will often gravitate to this point when you
are walking or jogging, or doing any type of aerobic exercise.
The point at which you reach the anaerobic threshold
varies greatly based upon your body weight and level of
fitness. For example, a person who is 75 pounds overweight
and has a low fitness level, may reach their anaerobic
threshold at only 40% of their maximal capacity. This
means that their functional capacity, what they are able
to do during the day without significant fatigue, is low.
They may be exhausted in the evening because of this.
Also, walking at what would be considered a slow speed
for others, three miles per hour (20 minute mile), may
push them over their anaerobic threshold, because of their
low level of fitness and because they have to do considerably
more work to carry around an extra 75 pounds.
Conversely, a person who has a high level of fitness
and a healthy body weight may reach their anaerobic threshold
at 80% of their maximal capacity. They would obviously
be able exercise at a much higher intensity with less
fatigue and daily activities would be less tiring.
The good news is that you can change the point at which
you reach your anaerobic threshold with consistent exercise.
This means that you'll be able to exercise at a higher
intensity and for longer periods of time with less fatigue,
and that you will be less fatigued by daily activities.
Your anaerobic threshold is improved by any type of aerobic
exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling, aerobic dance,
stair climbing, etc. The more time and intensity you add,
the greater the effect on your anaerobic threshold. Another
way to "push" your anaerobic threshold is to
exercise above it for several short periods of time during
your workout. For example, increase your exercise intensity
for one minute intervals several times throughout your
How do you know if you're above your threshold for that
one minute period? The intensity should be enough to elevate
your rate of breathing and to fatigue you to the point
that you are very ready to slow down after that minute.
Of course, the intensity of your intervals should be decreased
if you have not been exercising on a regular basis. As
always, be sure to check with your doctor before making
any changes in your level of activity.
Elevating the point at which you reach your anaerobic
threshold can do wonders for your overall feeling of well-being,
and it can significantly increase the amount of "energy"
you have during the day and during your exercise sessions.
Author and exercise physiologist, Greg Landry, offers
FREE weight loss success stories and his "Fast, Healthy
Weight Loss" newsletter at his site: http://www.http://www.GregLandryFitness.com
copyright 2003 by Greg Landry, M.S.