What Is Anaerobic Endurance?

Anaerobic endurance refers to the performance of shorter, high-intensity exercises that do not rely on oxygen to be completed.
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Endurance is the ability to perform activity for prolonged periods. Most people are familiar with aerobic endurance, in which the body utilizes oxygen to perform low-intensity activities for longer than several minutes. On the other hand, anaerobic endurance refers to the performance of shorter, high-intensity exercises that do not rely on oxygen to be completed.

Metabolic Pathways

According to the Crossfit Journal, your body uses three metabolic pathways to produce energy for activity. For long activities that require oxygen like jogging, biking or walking, your body uses the oxidative system for energy production. For higher-powered activities that last from several seconds to two minutes, the body uses the phosphagenic and glycolytic systems that rely on adenosine triphosphate and lactate for energy rather than oxygen.


Anaerobic endurance training burns fewer calories than aerobic endurance training, so it is less beneficial for cardiovascular training than aerobic endurance training. Despite this, as Crossfit founder Gregg Glassman notes, you can obtain aerobic benefits from anaerobic training, but you cannot obtain anaerobic benefits from aerobic training. The main benefit of anaerobic endurance training is that it allows you to train for increases in speed, strength and muscular hypertrophy, while still giving you a great deal of cardiovascular benefit. In the long run, increased muscle hypertrophy can get you leaner because increased skeletal muscle will raise your basal metabolic rate, causing you to burn more calories.


Anaerobic endurance training is particularly beneficial for athletes who need strength, power, speed, agility and endurance to succeed at their sports. These sports include football, tennis, rugby and ice hockey, where play time requires short periods of vigorous activity.

Incorporating Anaerobic Endurance in Your Training

Anaerobic endurance is not for novice trainees. The American Council on Exercise notes that highly trained fitness enthusiasts who are performing seven hours or more of cardiovascular exercise per week should progress to anaerobic endurance training. One of the best ways to incorporate anaerobic endurance training is through intervals. It can be done by biking, running or rowing for short-but-intense periods of time followed by a slower recovery period that is three times as long. For example, you can sprint for 30 seconds, then walk for 90 seconds to recover. Repeat this process for 30 minutes.

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