If the body can provide the necessary energy for a stress largely through the inhaled oxygen, we are talking about aerobic endurance. For example, steady jogging or cycling within the limits of physical ability. The most important criterion here is that the more blood, and thus oxygen in the blood, the body can transport through its cardiovascular system per heartbeat, the greater the aerobic endurance.
The body primarily uses the red muscle fibers (the so-called slow-twitch fibers) for this purpose. In contrast to the white muscle fibers, they contract more slowly (i.e. they contract more slowly) and are particularly suitable for movements requiring little force but with a high repetition frequency. Fast-twitch fibers are more heavily used during sprints, for example.
As soon as the body needs energy beyond the respiratory oxygen for an activity, anaerobic endurance is required - for example during sprints or weight training. Here, the body uses antioxidative processes to produce energy for muscle work. It primarily uses the stronger, white muscle fibers, which can increase their volume but require more energy and tire more quickly.
In simple terms, aerobic training promotes basic endurance for longer but less intense exercise, while anaerobic training promotes maximum endurance and muscle growth.
If you primarily want to train your endurance or aim for weight loss, aerobic training is a good choice because it specifically uses fat reserves for the metabolism and promotes the cardiovascular system.
In addition, aerobic training is the optimal basis for more intensive forms of training in the aerobic-anaerobic and anaerobic range as well as for competitions. The following applies here: aerobic and anaerobic are not opposites; they complement each other to form a holistic training program.
Aerobic training increases general endurance, i.e. the endurance that is required when more than 1/6 of the total skeletal muscles are used, for example in running, cycling or swimming.
Anaerobic training, on the other hand, is often devoted to local endurance - for example, in strength training on machines, the muscle groups that are used in each case.
Other effects of aerobic training:
- Reduction of the resting pulse rate
- Increase in maximum oxygen uptake
- Stimulation of fat metabolism
- Faster regeneration during aerobic exercise after anaerobic phases
Endurance sports such as running, cycling or swimming are particularly suitable for aerobic training, as the intensity and length can be easily regulated.
Especially at the beginning, the following applies to the untrained: Better too slow than too strenuous, so that the load really remains in the aerobic range. In the lower pulse range, this is 60 to 80 percent of the maximum heart rate.
Loads from 80 percent of the maximum heart rate, on the other hand, already correspond to anaerobic training. For beginners in particular, the use of a heart rate monitor is recommended in order to reliably control the load. But even trained athletes often control their training via the pulse rate in order to better manage their training.
If you want to know your threshold from aerobic to anaerobic training precisely, you should have a lactate test performed by a sports physician. The lactate value determined indicates the highest possible load intensity at which the formation and breakdown of lactate are in balance.
With a steady load of 60 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate, steady running, cycling or swimming is good aerobic exercise. The length of the session is more important than the pace. Regular training is necessary for a positive effect on endurance.
Alternating load and recovery in intervals is particularly effective. For example, a section can be jogged at a brisk pace, followed by relaxed walking. The intervals should alternate several times during a training session. When running or biking, for example, hills are ideal: Move uphill with higher intensity to run it out downhill. With the more intense intervals, the maximum oxygen uptake is increased even more efficiently. This allows the body to run even longer and faster in the aerobic zone.
Interval training also offers the chance to combine aerobic with anaerobic training and to go to the limit during the load intervals.
Care should be taken when combining aerobic and anaerobic training: For example, extensive endurance sessions after strength training suppress muscle growth. It is therefore better to do these before strength training.
Loose running or cycling after the strength workout, on the other hand, promotes regeneration.