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Anaerobic Exercise and Heart Rate

by
author image M. Gideon Hoyle
M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.
Anaerobic Exercise and Heart Rate
A man and woman are training in a gym. Photo Credit DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images

Anaerobic exercise is the name used for exercises that don’t require your muscles to use oxygen as an energy source. While regular performance of aerobic exercises will improve the function of your heart and lungs, regular performance of anaerobic exercises improves the strength of your muscles and bones. Anaerobic exercise affects your heart rate in a different manner than aerobic exercise.

Aerobic and Anaerobic

When you exercise anaerobically, your muscles use an energy source called glycogen, which your liver produces from carbohydrates in your diet and protein building blocks called amino acids. This energy pathway contrasts with the one found in aerobic exercise, which increases your breathing and heart rate to draw extra oxygen into your body. Typically, anaerobic exercises require brief, intense muscle movements rather than the continuous, moderate movements associated with aerobic exercises. Common anaerobic activities include weightlifting, sprinting and jumping.

Heart Rate Changes

When you exercise aerobically, the continuous nature of your activity triggers an ongoing increase in your heart rate. The amount of increase you experience typically varies with the intensity of the exercises you perform. When you exercise anaerobically, the intense nature of your efforts can also increase your heart rate. However, since your efforts are typically brief, the effect on your heart rate does not last for long. Because of its breathing and heart rate effects, aerobic exercise is key to maintaining or improving the strength of your heart, lungs and blood vessels.

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Anaerobic Zone

When you perform aerobic exercises, you use your heart rate to estimate how hard you’re working your body. Beginning exercisers typically work at 50 to 65 percent of their maximum heart rate, while athletes and experienced exercisers work at higher percentages. When you exercise at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum rate, you enter a level of exertion called the anaerobic zone. In this zone, your muscles draw primarily on glycogen for energy, even though you’re technically engaged in aerobic exercise. Professional athletes exercise at this high level to increase their endurance and overall performance.

Balanced Routines

To reach your fitness potential, you must include both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in your regular routine. Additional factors in fitness include your muscle and joint flexibility, as well as your relative levels of body fat and lean tissue. Before you begin anaerobic or aerobic exercises, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough for the activities you propose. If you gain exercise approval, begin your routine slowly and expand it gradually as your body adjusts to the demands of your efforts.

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