You probably heard the terms aerobic and anaerobic in the context of exercise. But what do they mean and what role do they play in your workout efforts? Here is a simple explanation.
Aerobic Vs. Anaerobic
Give me an excuse to throw in something Roman, and I’m all for it. Because the “aer” in these two words is Latin and means, well, “air.” Latin in turn borrowed it from Greek, where “aerobic” and “anaerobic” literally mean “living in air” and “living without air.”
So much for your classical education today, because in exercising, aerobic and anaerobic are simply dainty ways to name the two ways the body generates energy:
Calculating Your Intensity
As said in the video, let’s now find out how to check maximum and training heart rate to see if you are training aerobic or anaerobic.
First of all, to roughly find out your maximum heart rate, we can use the formula 220 – age = maximum heart rate per minute. So if you are 20 years old, it’s 220 – 20 = 200.
That number being established, you need take your heart rate while exercising. The easiest way to get that is of course with a heart rate monitor, but if you don’t have one, you can get the approximate rate by counting your heart beats within 15 seconds and taking that times four. So if you counted forty beats within 15 seconds, you’d have a heart rate of 160 bpm.
Now have a look at the below table and check at what intensity you are at what mixture of aerobic / anaerobic:
|Percent of Maximum Heart Rate||More Aerobic Or Anaerobic?|
|60% and below||Highly aerobic|
|60% to 70%||Aerobic|
|70% to 80%||Aerobic / Anaerobic|
|80% to 90%||Anaerobic|
|90% to 100%||Highly anaerobic|
With the above 160 bpm and the maximum of 200, you would therefore be exercising at about 80% intensity and in the zone largely governed by anaerobic energy production.
Carbs For The Win
Anaerobic energy production highly depends on carbohydrates and especially at any intensity above 70% not having them can be very detrimental to your performance. Which means I’ll use this occasion to once more plug in my video about what to eat before workouts and the article on nutrition for cardio.
Picture courtesy of Alex E. Proimos.