Aerobic vs Anaerobic Training
Written by Fritz Nugent

What is aerobic vs anaerobic conditioning? What benefits do you achieve from the two different types of conditioning? If you’ve ever wondered about these two questions, you are not alone! Here’s a little breakdown to help you out.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic

If you put a HR monitor on and performed your conditioning, this would tell us with accuracy what zone you’re training in. The aerobic training zones are zones 0-2.

Aerobic work is traditionally one task (bike, run, sled pull, weight vest walk, row, ski, etc.) performed with a HR of 180 minus your age. It’s very difficult for people to stay aerobic in CrossFit due to the varied nature of mixed modal tasks. As for benefits, aerobic work increases your aerobic capacity, which is your body’s ability to fuel movement with oxygen and fat as the main fuel source.

Anaerobic training increases your body’s capacity to perform work using glycogen (long chains of glucose broken down into ATP), and bi-products cause that painful burning sensation and a highly elevated heart rate. In order to be a good CrossFitter, training this way is a must. However, it is arguably unnecessary to train this way to simply live healthily. 

Which is better for you?

Aerobic training + strength training = all you need to stay healthy. Personally, I think people become addicted to the anaerobic nature of CrossFit because they can “feel” how hard it is. Aerobic training doesn’t feel that way. You can carry out a full conversation with someone else while training aerobically. People equate this to a workout that is less effective than a high intensity session. 

The reality of this is that people are missing out on an opportunity to gain improved system function. When the body recovers from anaerobic intervals, the aerobic system is the PRIMARY RECOVERY SYSTEM!

As it relates to your health, aerobic training puts less of a physiological toll on the body and immune system as compared to HIIT style training or heavy weightlifting cycles. Because it is less demanding on the CNS and creates fewer waste products like lactate, it has less inflammatory response in the body and therefore on the immune system. If you’re stressed out on life (sympathetic response), Zone 2 aerobic work also facilitates a parasympathetic response in the body, think “flow state”. 

How to Add More Aerobic Training to Your Week

That would look like longer runs, bike, row, ski, sled, carries, and mixed modal work with lighter weight and longer rest breaks to keep HR within the aerobic zone. So if you want to give your nervous system a break, choose exercise and movement that will be rejuvenating rather than demanding on your nervous and immune system. Zone 2 aerobic work will keep you healthier and make you fitter for the long run.


Also Check Out…
Getting to Know the 5 Heart Rate Training Zones
Aerobic Training Zone 2
Is Training Leaving You Sore or Beat Up?

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