It's hard to believe your body could operate without using oxygen as the main source of energy, but that is exactly what anaerobic exercise is. Meaning "without air," this type of activity relies on other energy sources to fuel your muscles for very short bursts of activity. Anaerobic activities also can be done using just your body, eliminating the need for equipment and gym memberships.
After you eat carbohydrates, your body either uses them right away for energy or converts them into glycogen, which is stored in your muscles for later use. When you engage in any activity in quick bursts at very high intensity, your body relies on these glycogen stores for energy. For example, during a game of tennis you alternate from standing to quickly sprinting and swinging at a ball.
A thorough workout program will include all the major muscles of your upper and lower body. You can work out specific muscle groups one at a time, or group them by lower and upper body. Anaerobic exercise puts a greater demand on your body than aerobic exercise and should only be done two to three times a week. According to Weight Awareness, each workout should only last 10 to 20 minutes to prevent lactic acid buildup. Lactic acid is responsible for the muscular pain and fatigue you feel after a workout.
When you engage in this type of activity, you benefit your overall health. You may only burn a small amount of calories during your workout, but anaerobic exercise helps your body burn more calories post-workout. It also improves your body content by building lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories faster than fat tissue. This can help with overall fat loss and in achieving a healthier, leaner figure.
Anaerobic exercise comes in many varieties, making it easier to find a style you like. Strength training can be performed in the common weight lifting style as an aerobic workout. This includes choosing three to five exercises and performing one set of eight to 12 repetitions. Beneficial exercises include pullups, pushups, lunges, squats and crunches.
You could also group several strength exercises together to build a circuit workout. To do this, pick four to 10 exercises, work for 30 to 60 seconds on each one, move rapidly through all the exercises and then rest for two to three minutes before completing another circuit.
Interval training is also anaerobic, although it relies on common cardio exercises for execution. Choose a cardio exercise that can be done at two speeds, such as running. Alternate between a very fast interval and a very slow, or resting, interval for up to 20 minutes. For example, sprint for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes and repeat.
Ashley Farley has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. She is also a writer specializing in healthy living, fitness and nutrition topics. Farley has an Associate of Science in mental health services from the Community College of the Air Force and is pursuing her B.A. in English at Wright State University.