The Power of Anaerobic Training
Katelyn Sander

The Power of Anaerobic Training

Living Well

Written by: Meg Sharp, Wellbeing Consultant, Cambridge Group of Clubs

Anaerobic exercise typically involves short, intermittent bursts of activity. Your heart and respiration rates surge quickly. The oxygen demand of the activity is higher than what your body can supply. There is consequently a buildup of lactic acid and you are ultimately forced to slow down or stop. 

Want to try it? Go all out for 90 seconds, then stroll along with the Corrs while you literally catch your breath: 


Anaerobic activity can be anything. You can blast into that high-end training zone by doing 30 second sprints on your runs or on your bike. You can jump jacks or with a rope for 60 seconds. You can do one type of lift REALLY hard, or string together a 90 second strength circuit.

  • Typically – an anaerobic interval is anywhere between 10 and 90 seconds. 120 seconds tops.  And the intensity – is ALL OUT. What you can barely sustain for the time period. So, it can take some practice to figure that out. Perhaps obviously what you can do for 90 seconds is a touch more moderate than how hard you would go for 15 seconds.
  • It can be helpful to repeat the same interval a number of times as you will get better at gauging as you go. 
  • Your heart rate will typically hit or exceed 85-90% of your maximum heart rate.
  • You will need at least a 1:1 work:rest ratio, with your rest requirement higher when the intervals are shorter and harder.  And the rest requirement increasing as your sets increase.
  • You will feel uncomfortable for pretty much the entire interval, with the last few seconds being quite brutal. And the entirety of the last few intervals will be less than pleasant.

So why do it?

I’m so glad you asked.

Meg’s Favourite Benefits Associated with Anaerobic Training:

  • Training in this manner makes you feel like a superhero
  • Incredibly effective way of training when time is tight
  • Improves performance of aerobic activities (higher pace, greater endurance, and quicker recovery)
  • Increases muscle and sometimes bone mass
  • Creates physical and psychological resilience
  • It engages your FULL BODY. You have to brace in a manner you don’t necessarily need to at lower intensities.
  • It’s fun. (Check out the Trainer Moves Today. I’m having a blast…?!)

How to fit it in?

  1. Just one. Did you know even ONE bout of anaerobic activity can be beneficial? So, on your next run or power walk… with 2 minutes left to go – go all out for 30 seconds. Next time? Try doing it twice.
  2. 60 seconds ramps. This is one of my favourites: Running, biking, or cycling: warm up for 3-5 minutes. Then go hard for 60 seconds, recover for 90. Repeat 4-9 times. Warm down for 3-5.
  3. Circuits. Pick two full body exercises. Do one for 30 seconds, then the next for 30 seconds. Or try 15/15/15/15. Take 60-90 minutes rest. Repeat 3-4 times. Pick two different exercises, do it again.
  4. Lunch break, coffee break, meeting break, earn your shower, while your smoothie is blending… Determine what you want to do for a 90 second burst – strength exercises, jumping jacks, air squats, double stairs and perform it a few times throughout the day.

Pro Tip:  When you think you can’t do one more, do one more.

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