Anaerobic Exercise: The Secret to Weight-Loss

Anaerobic Exercise: The Secret to Weight-Loss

Many people enjoy exercise—they like the thrill, the stress relief or the endorphin release. But many more do not. For most, exercise is drudgery, a necessary evil, or doctor’s orders. And for most of us, exercise simply serves as a means to an end—we know exercise is the best way to drop a few lbs., so we grudgingly tie up our sneakers and head out for a run. If this sounds familiar, you know just how aggravating it can be when you work out for a few weeks and get none of the results you want.

The bad news: the treadmill might not be cutting it. The good news: you can unlock your full weight loss potential by throwing a little anaerobic exercise into your daily regimen.

Just What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Exercise can be split into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic. If you are an occasional gym-goer, aerobic exercise is the kind with which you are most likely familiar. This type of exercise is characterized by low intensity and high endurance activities like jogging, jaunts on the elliptical and long distance cycling.

Anaerobic exercise, on the other hand, is comprised of brief, strength-based activities in which we use at least 84% of our maximum heart rate, like sprinting, jumping or bodybuilding. When performing anaerobic exercises, our bodies demand more oxygen than our lungs can supply. Thus, anaerobic activity can only be maintained for short periods of time.

Anaerobic Exercise and Weight Loss

Aerobic exercise is the type most frequently associated with weight loss. This is because it provides immediate and direct results. If you run for an hour, your body will burn its carb reserves up and resort to fat as a source of energy. Provided, that is, you run at a moderate pace. Fat can only be burned for energy if your body receives sufficient levels of oxygen; once you transition to high intensity, anaerobic mode (by sprinting, for example) your body will not receive the oxygen necessary to release energy from fat, and your fat will not burn.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, why bother with anaerobic exercise at all?

The answer: because anaerobic exercise ratchets up your body’s metabolism. This is done in three key ways.

The first is hormonal. Anaerobic exercise releases epinephrine, norepinephrine and growth hormone, all of which are critical for the body’s metabolism, and all of which play a central role in your body’s ability to burn fat.

The second is that anaerobic exercise generates “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” This means that anaerobic exercise burns fat after all. While you cannot oxidize fat during an anaerobic workout, your body will tap into fat stores over the 38 hours after your anaerobic work out is concluded.

The third way in which anaerobic exercise helps you lose weight has to do with muscle mass. The muscles anaerobic activities develop will boost your aerobic, fat burning workouts. The stronger you are, the more force you will exert, whether it’s on a bike, or during a run. So if you’re muscles are well developed you will maximize your calorie expenditure, and this will help you to burn fat and to lose weight.