The anaerobic threshold and training

Written on 4 November 2017, 11:52pm

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This is a continuation of this post about aerobic (low intensity) vs anaerobic (high intensity) training.
A quick review of the two types of activities:
Aerobic: the energy is created by burning fat and carbs. This produces CO2 and water (breathing and sweating).
Anaerobic: to keep up with the additional energy requirements, the body burns sugar supplies (glycogen) in addition to the carbs and fat. This produces lactic acid (in addition to CO2 and water), and when this acid is produced faster than it can be metabolized, the muscle pain appears.

The anaerobic threshold (AT) is the point where the aerobic system can no longer keep up with the energy requirements. After this threshold, the anaerobic metabolism kicks in. Because of the lactic acid production, the AT is also known as lactate threshold.

The fitter you are, the longer you can fuel your body with the aerobic system before the anaerobic system needs to take over.
Interval workouts are effective for raising the AT. For the best results, vary your workouts between aerobic work (where duration takes priority over high intensity), and higher-intensity intervals (where you will be just under or at your Maximum Heart Rate).

The AT is generally linked with the heart rate.
A quick estimation of your AT is 85% of the maximum heart rate (MHR). The MHR can be in turn estimated to 220 - age. So for a 36 year old person, the MHR=184, and the AT is 157bpm. Basically this tells that once this hearth rate is reached by a 36 year old, his body switches to anaerobic metabolism.

In order to push the AT, you can either:
– do HIIT (high intensity interval training), where you alternate low intensity with high intensity intervals (aerobic vs anaerobic)
– or do ATT (anaerobic threshold training), where you train just around the AT value.

Again, these types of training are generally linked with the hearth rate. A widely used concept is the training hearth rate (THR) (some gym machines also refer to the target heart rate).
In determining the THR, the following indicators are being used:
– the resting hearth rate – RHR. It can be determined with a heart rate monitor or Apple watch right after you wake up.
– the maximum hearth rate – MHR. It can be either measured with an ECG in a controlled environment, or estimated as 220-age (other formulas exists).
– the heart rate reserve – HRR defined as MHR minus RHR

Using the indicators above, each type of training can be associated with a certain THR range:
– the aerobic training (low intensity), 50–75% HRR + RHR
– the AT training, 80–85% HRR + RHR
– the anaerobic training (high intensity), 85-95% HRR + RHR

If RHR=52, MHR=184, HRR = 132 and age=36, then
– THR range for low intensity training: 118-151 bpm
– THR range for AT training: 158-164 bpm
– THR range for high intensity training: 165-177bpm


Low-intensity vs high-intensity training

Written on 25 April 2016, 08:33am

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Low intensity (aerobic)

– low intensity means that you can still talk while doing it
oxygen: enough. Your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.
in: more fats, less carbs
out: CO2, water – These byproducts are easily expelled through the simple act of breathing.

High intensity (anaerobic)

– high intensity means that you cannot talk while exercising
– more explosive movements that require immediate energy reserves
oxygen: not enough, so sugar (glycogen) is needed. When no more glycogen available, you hit the wall.
in: more carbs, less fat
out: CO2, water and lactate – which cannot be rapidly eliminated so stored in muscles. This is what causes that burning feeling in your muscles.



– Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises burn fat, but they burn it at different rates
– The faster you run, the more energy you burn (like a car on a highway)
– Anaerobic workouts tend to burn more calories from carbohydrates relative to fat
– Aerobic workouts tend to burn more calories from fat relative to carbohydrates.
– Although it is true that aerobic exercises burn more fat relative to carbs, high-intensity anaerobic exercises burn more total calories from both sources.
– Additionally, anaerobic workouts put your body into a period of post-exercise oxygen consumption, where you continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate for hours after you get home from the gym.
– Ideally, you should strike a balance between aerobic and anaerobic to develop a rounded workout routine.


Written on 19 February 2014, 11:07pm

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Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of my favorite sportsmen. But it’s only recently – after he won the World Masters – that I found 2 interesting things about him:
1. that he wrote an autobiography book
2. that running is a very important part of his life
ronnie running 300
Here are some interesting quotes from the first two chapters of his autobiography book: