If you’re anything like me, your the type of person that will give anything a try at least once. A few friends I know were telling me about a place they are obsessed with called Orangetheory Fitness. The first class is offered as a free trial so I decided to check it out. During the 60 minute full body training work-out, a heart rate monitor is worn and everyone’s progress is viewable on a screen. Individual results are sent out by email after the work-out. The focus is high intensity intervals while training endurance, strength and power. This burns more calories post-workout than a traditional exercise. The goal is to get 12 or more orange or red zone “splat points”. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, informally called afterburn) – induces an increase in calorie burning after the session. When you earn a “splat point”, it means your body went into an anaerobic state for a short duration of exercise lasting up to two minutes.
I started challenging myself to all these new fitness classes I was (and still
am) an avid outdoor runner. One thing I unknowingly found myself doing often
was running as hard and as fast as I could until I depleted myself then I would
walk it out for a few minutes and repeat the interval again. I crave when my
heart pounds, my adrenaline spikes and I can taste the oxygen deficit burn in
my throat. I typically did these intervals for an hour 3 times per week. The
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) guidelines recommend adults 18
+ years old should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to
vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. When I transitioned into
this routine, I received a lot of compliments and questions on how much weight
I lost and how my body shape changed. I lost 10 lbs but had far more strength
and energy than I was used to. Fast forward, I didn’t realize that what I was
doing was putting my muscles into oxygen deprivation so they instead used
energy stores (aka fat) to keep me
Unlike aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise does not need oxygen to produce energy (Plowman et al., 2017). Through spurts of high-intensity exercise, maximal power can be estimated in the first few seconds of muscle fatigue. During anaerobic exercise, the goal is to push your muscles harder than the heart and lungs can feed them. When this happens the muscles go into a temporary state of oxygen deprivation and search for the next best access to energy stores. This is how fat gets burned. The whole point behind anaerobic exercise it to reach your lactate threshold. During a high intensity workout, the muscles create a byproduct in the bloodstream known as lactate or lactic acid. A symptom of this is fatigue or feeling that burn.
This is where your muscles just can’t handle anymore, and you need a rest period.
During aerobic exercise, muscle does not go into oxygen debt because the workout is typically ‘long and slow’ or steady. In other words your rate of breathing and heart rate stay at a level where you can feed your muscles with what they need to continue and meanwhile any
by-products of the work-out get cleaned out by the bloodstream. Common types of aerobic exercise include walking, hiking, long distance biking and low weight-high rep strength workouts.
Aside from weight loss, you might be wondering, are
there any other benefits of anaerobic exercise? Why do people want to reach an
anaerobic state? A convenient benefit is that when fat begins to melt, muscles
can be built and strengthened. Anaerobic exercise not only improves performance,
but also provides a basis of where an individual currently is in terms of
energy capacity. A great advantage to a high intensity workout is that it
increases your metabolism and your VO2 max (the highest amount of oxygen your
body is able to consume during exercise). It lowers blood sugars and at the
least, weight stays off. Another benefit to
reaching that anaerobic threshold is it improves overall physical and mental health. Moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity is excellent for reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity. Being active at least 2 days a week is proven to improve morale, mood and self-esteem. Over time if this routine is maintained, an anaerobic workout can assist with building a leaner, toned body as well as increase your endurance capacity.
Anaerobic exercise usually falls in the category of ‘high intensity interval training or you may of heard the term “HIIT”. This is exactly how Orangetheory fitness classes work. This is a well researched, scientifically proven method, where you use short periods of extreme effort, between a period of short rest. You can do a HIIT workout with almost any activity – running, biking, weight training etc. The important thing is to make sure that when you work hard, you work really hard. Don’t hold back to keep going for longer – the whole purpose of anaerobic exercise it to push right to your ‘lactate threshold’, where your muscles just can’t push anymore, and then you take your rest period. HIIT, or anaerobic workouts are not something you should plan to do every day. Combine your high intensity workouts with some easier, steady state, aerobic workouts, and plan for no more than 3 anaerobic work-outs per week.
Amy Petersen can be found on instagram at Amy Petersen
Fitness, a candidate for long term health and wellness. Amy has a University
background in the Sciences. Currently she is in her second year of the Personal
Fitness Trainer program at NAIT in Edmonton, Alberta. Amy is committed to
cardiovascular endurance training and before applying into the program, she
spent three years training and competing in multiple triathlon races. She has
also run various 5K, 10K and half marathon races. Amy is dedicated to fostering
lasting relationships with her family,
friends, colleagues and clients. Her kind of fun is a trip to the mountains, hot yoga or quality time with her Boston terrier. She enjoys biking, antique furniture renos and inspiring others through leadership. Recently Amy spent time in deep introspection and learned the practice of meditation. During this time she completed her Usui Reiki level 1, 2 and 3. She became a Certified Usui Reiki Master Teacher and soon after an active member of the Canadian Reiki Association. Another fun fact, Amy likes to serve as a volunteer at YEG Cycle and is involved with the Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta. She loves meal prepping and basically talking about food in general. During the day she spends her time working with Skills Society, a not for profit agency supporting the citizenship of people with disabilities.