During aerobic exercises, an athlete maintains a steady pace for a prolonged period and the body relies on oxygen for the transportation. Anaerobic exercises, on the other hand, are sprinting events where the body has to rely on non-oxygen sources of energy. Combining anaerobic and aerobic training into one training program can increase an athlete's strength, power, stamina and endurance.
When energy is derived aerobically, oxygen is used to metabolize substrates from energy stores and to deliver energy to muscles. An athlete training for endurance obtains most his energy aerobically, or without oxygen debt. The key factor in aerobic training is continuous movement. Designed to increase cardiorespiratory endurance, aerobic training requires 15 to 20 minutes of sustained physical activity at about 70 to 90 percent of the maximum heart rate roughly three times a week. High endurance events such as cross-country skiing and non-sprint cycling, running, and swimming are examples of aerobic activities.
Designed to increase endurance and stamina aerobic workouts last longer then anaerobic workouts but do not place as much stress on the body. When planning an aerobic workout it is important to set a steady pace that can be maintained for a long period of time. Furthermore, in order for the workout to improve cardiovascular endurance the trainings should mimic the event or activity the athlete is training for. Athletes who focus solely on aerobic training may find that they experience a decrease in power and strength, according to the American Sports Medicine Institute.
Any intense activity that only lasts from 30 seconds to 2 minutes will rely on anaerobic training. Unlike aerobic workouts which focus on sustainability, anaerobic workouts are shorter, more intense trainings. During anaerobic trainings, oxygen cannot keep up with the body's energy demands, so the body has to utilize phosphagen and lactic acids. Interval training is a method of training that employs and strengthens the anaerobic energy systems.
Interval training is an anaerobic conditioning program that stresses the body in order to improve speed, strength, and endurance. By alternating between short bursts of high intensity activities like sprinting with short cool down periods of lower intensity activities like jogging, interval training pushes the body but does not give it the opportunity to recover. This type of training program can improve athletes' ability to tolerate and utilize the increased concentrations of lactic acid that form during anaerobic activities. Although interval training focuses predominately on anaerobic training, it also improves cardiovascular endurance, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Combining Aerobic and Anaerobic Training
A successful training program is designed to meet the individual needs of an athlete. However, by combining aerobic and anaerobic workouts into one training plan, athletes can improve endurance, stamina, strength and power. Athletes who are training for distances will want the majority of their training plans to be aerobic, with anaerobic exercises thrown in. Athletes who require short bursts of speed and power may focus more on interval training mixing in some aerobic trainings. When creating a training program, the most important thing to remember is not to push the body to the point of injury.