You probably already know that the term aerobic means “with oxygen.”   Anaerobic (“without oxygen”) is another energy system in the body and is the primary source of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) when there is a deficit amount of oxygen in the cell to meet the energy needs during exercise.

When it comes to activities such as weight lifting, sprinting and tennis, oxygen is in high demand and short supply, which is why exercises such as these can feel so challenging!  In the absence of enough oxygen, like when performing bench presses or leg presses, the muscles rely mainly on the anaerobic energy system, which has a rapidly available source of ATP.  The anaerobic metabolism functions best using the fast twitch skeletal muscles that lead to anaerobic energy expenditure.

According to the American Sports Medicine Institute, anaerobic training is usually less than two minutes in duration and as a result oxygen does not become a factor in performance.  Anaerobic energy sources use phosphagen and lactic acid and enable the individual to perform brief, near maximum muscular activities.  Any activity that last up to 30 seconds in length, relies on the phosphagen energy system while activities that last between 30 seconds and two minutes rely on the lactic acid system.

Most often these energy systems are effectively trained using interval conditioning.  However, keep in mind there is no absolute in this equation. 

Weight lifting is the most popular form of anaerobic training that has the greatest impact on health, body shaping and metabolism.  Keep in mind when we are talking about weight lifting we are not talking about body building.  We are talking about overloading the muscles to improve muscle strength and muscle endurance.  Men have a higher level of testosterone, which means they have more muscle mass and size and it is easier for them to increase muscle fiber size, called hypertrophy.  Women, on the other hand, can increase tone without increasing the size.  For both genders weight training is very beneficial.

Let’s talk about weight training and you.

First, we know that strong muscles can improve your posture and help maintain your equilibrium or balance.  As we age, balance can be a daily challenge and the risk of a fall can delay or limit your daily fitness regime.  Having muscle endurance and strength can also play a role in preventing injuries should a fall occur or if you are choosing to take on more aggressive training routines.  We also know that if we do weight bearing activities we can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other bone deficiencies.

Second, having muscle mass that is tight and tone can change the shape of our bodies.  While there is no such thing as “spot reducing,” there is “spot training.”  Weight training allows us to focus on our specific problem areas.  For example, whereas weight training cannot change the elasticity of the skin, it can tighten and tone muscles that are sagging around the under arms and around the upper leg.

Third, stronger muscles can also make everyday activities easier and more efficient such as mowing the lawn, lifting the children, carrying groceries and doing laundry.

Fourth, finally, one of the most important benefits of weight training is the impact it has on resting metabolism.  Many studies support the fact that if you can increase your muscle mass, you can burn more calories at rest.  We know that metabolism is the rate at which energy is being burned in the body.  So we are very interested in the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the number of calories or baseline you would burn if you slept all day and all night.  There are many factors that impact your BMR like your age, stress level and even the climate you live in.  The BMR formula uses the variables of height, weight, age and gender to calculate the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). There are various formulas available on line and even automatic web calculators that do the math for you.  To get a simple, general idea of what your BMR is simply multiply your weight by 10.  If you weigh 150 pounds then the number of calories you could burn is 1,500.  This is just a general assessment and if you want to get more details there are devices that can calculate the number of calories you can burn per minute.  However, keep in mind the more muscle mass you have compared to fat mass increases the rate at which energy is burned.

In addition, studies continue to suggest that vigorous weight lifting can elevate calorie burning above usual values for several hours after you finish working out.  This is a huge benefit to weight lifting.  There is nothing like burning extra calories while you are sitting in your car on the way home from the gym.  This is called the after burn and we weight lifters love this special perk!

Published by Sadie