Whether you're a weekend warrior or a professional athlete, your fitness workouts will involve both aerobic and anaerobic training.

Aerobic and anaerobic sound scientific but the difference is quite simple:


Aerobic means energy is produced ‘with oxygen’. Any moderate intensity activity which is continuous, such as running, swimming, aerobics classes, is aerobic if you can do it without gasping for breath. There isn’t usually lactic acid build up so there’s no discomfort.

If sustained for long periods (e.g. 5k run as opposed to a sprint), an aerobic workout will increase your stamina, benefit your heart and lungs, burn fat, reduce your risk of diabetes and improve your mood.


This is when the energy requirements of the body exceed that provided by breathing, therefore you are forced to work ‘without oxygen’. Because of this, you can only sustain anaerobic exercises for short bursts of 2-3 minutes.

Anaerobic exercise includes weight training, sprinting, resistance machines.

Anaerobic workouts will improve your strength and muscle mass, boosting your power and metabolism. You will definitely notice the lactic acid ‘burn’ this time as your muscles are subjected to significant wear and tear – but great results can be gained!


Both are excellent ways to improve fitness levels. Aerobic exercises are well-known for helping burn calories. However, anaerobic exercises have the edge, as they burn fat after the workout ends and help build muscle which can then burn even more calories.

The repetitive style of aerobic exercise can also increase the risk of joint problems, particularly high-impact types like running.

The best choice when designing your exercise routine is to include both: do highly anaerobic resistance training for muscle strength, and aerobic workouts to burn calories and improve cardiovascular fitness. If you have specific fitness goals, or injuries, have a chat with a gym instructor who could tailor your training for you.