Anaerobic exercise is high intensity, higher power, short burst fast exercise at maximum effort and it doesn’t require the body to utilize oxygen as its energy source. It’s called anaerobic exercise because the anaerobic energy system is used to provide energy to perform this form of high intensity exercise.
The anaerobic system does not use oxygen as fuel, instead it pulls upon energy stored in the muscles such as ATP, ATP-PCr, and glycogen and glucose in the blood. You will also feel that burning sensation in your muscles and tired/weak muscles which is lactic acid build-up in the muscles and bloodstream which is a byproduct of this system.
However, this can only be performed for a short duration of time (10-120 seconds). However, its high intensity and high power form of exercise. Imagine Usain Bolt when you think of anaerobic energy systems, the 100 meter sprint operating at maximum, hitting speeds of 27.78mph!
Aerobic exercise is any type of cardiovascular conditioning whereby breathing controls the amount of oxygen that can make it to the muscles to help them burn fuel and move.
Meaning its exercising ‘with oxygen’ unlike anaerobic exercise. Its steady state and doesn’t require high intensity and short bursts of energy. Oxygen is in control!
Aerobic exercise uses the aerobic energy system which produces energy using a continuous supply of oxygen to sustain the current level of activity without needing additional energy from another source.
I call this the ‘long term system’, it can last from two minutes up to two hours depending on how well you have trained it.
Professional marathon runners like Eliud Kipchoge can go for hours using their aerobic energy system with no rest required.
We do not call upon this system when we perform metabolic conditioning (no disrespect). There is a third and final energy system but we do not to address this in this article post.