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What is Anaerobic Training and Exercise? Get the Definition Here

Exercise | February 8, 2014 | By

Anaerobic training is shorter than aerobic training in duration (less than two minutes), in which oxygen is not a limiting factor in performance, and requires energy from anaerobic sources. These energy sources involve the utilization of phosphagen and lactic acid by the athlete’s body; and enables them to perform brief, near maximal muscular activity (<2 min). Events, or activity that lasts up to 30 seconds in length, rely almost exclusively on the phosphagen system.

Activity that lasts from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, begin to rely on lactic acid (again, any activity beyond two minutes becomes aerobic training). These energy systems are effectively developed using an interval training system. It is important note that although one energy system may be predominate for a given activity, all systems are in use to some degree during anaerobic, or interval training.

Interval Training

Interval training uses, as named, intervals that can consist of running, swimming, calisthenic exercises, or resistance training. Work intervals, which also include rest intervals, vary depending on the athletes mode of training, or need (need analysis). For example; work intervals of less than 30 seconds (phosphagen system), are typically performed with rest intervals of approximately three times this duration.

This type of training does not allow for full recovery between bouts of work and is often done during the middle, to later part of the athlete’s preseason training period.

Competition Phase

As the competition phase approaches, preseason interval training consists of longer rest intervals to accommodate the near-maximal intensity. Exercising involving the lactic acid energy source generally has an exercise-to-rest ratio of 1:2 (one second of activity, to two seconds of rest).

Full recovery is not achieved, but as athletes perform more of this type of training, they will be better able to tolerate and utilize increased concentrations of lactic acid. Most athletes involved in strength and power activities, such as football, baseball, basketball, volleyball, running events under 800 m, and swimming events under 100 m, utilize both of the anaerobic energy sources to supply the majority of required energy.

Interval training should comprise the bulk of their metabolic training. Each stage in an athlete’s training requires modification of the various modes and methods of training according to the goals set by the athlete, skill coach, and conditioning specialist. The basic programs design is to meet the critical needs of the athlete. Modification of the program, or some variation in these guidelines may be appropriate for different age groups and fitness levels.


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The successful athlete has an optimal blend of training modes and methods. The successful athlete has an optimal blend of training modes and methods. And just as with any other type of fitness, the intensity and duration of training must be increased gradually over time in a logical progression that allows the athlete to peak for the most important competitions.

To understand what an athlete’s program will consist of, a needs analysis should be a priority. A needs analysis is when the professional (strength coach, skills coach, parent, head coach, assistant coach, advisor, et al) analyzes the fitness needs of both the activity and the individual athlete involved in the sport. To develop a needs analysis first analyze the physiological and biomechanical requirements of each sport.

A physiological analysis will allow you to devise a program that addresses the aspects of strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, cardiorespriatory endurance, power, and speed required for success in the sport. A biomechanical analysis will allow you to choose training activities that develop the athlete in the manner most specific to the sport and also to determine the areas of critical stress in the sport. Strength and weaknesses in each athlete need to be assessed by the chosen professional. As stated, different sports require various levels of fitness and all athletes should be tested, or analyzed for strength, flexibility, endurance, power and speed. Also needed by a medical professional, is an injury profile on each participating athlete to determine specific needs with regard to injury prevention, or adaptation.