Anaerobic Exercise Examples – Best Anaerobic Endurance Exercises

the best forms of anaerobic exercise

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Anaerobic endurance is essential for pretty much all sports, and training anaerobically can have vastly superior effects for anyone looking to build muscle or lose weight fast.

When engaging in anaerobic exercises, you are essentially pushing your muscles in short bursts of about 90 seconds or less. Anaerobic exercise involves training “without oxygen” or basically working at a rate where your breathing does not catch up to the exercise performed until after the physical exertion is finished.

Anaerobic exercise is excellent because it has the potential to both help you burn fat, as well as gain muscle mass. It is nearly impossible to do both processes simultaneously, but anaerobic exercise has the potential to fit whichever your goal is!

Especially for those athletes who compete in contact sports, the ability to gain muscle mass while also losing body fat is an extremely powerful tool in your training arsenal. Anaerobic exercise has many benefits, and should be practiced by all trainees who are physically fit enough to do so.

Such as with any other type of training, practicing anaerobic exercises will increase your overall anaerobic endurance; helping you become better at your given sport, or allowing you to increase your overall training capacity.

My 5 Favorite Anaerobic Exercise Examples

These 5 different techniques for increasing anaerobic endurance will absolutely help you become a better athlete, and a healthier and more physically fit human!

Heavy Weightlifting:

One of the most popular, and simplest forms of anaerobic exercise is heavy weightlifting. Lifting light-moderate weights can have positive effects on your aerobic conditioning and other functions of your body, but lifting heavy weights is a direct form of anaerobic conditioning.

To train anaerobically with weights, you will essentially be lifting as heavy a weight as you can handle, without sacrificing correct form for any exercise. If you have to heave the weight or cannot maintain the correct form required for the exercise, reduce the amount of weight. This does not necessarily mean you will be only working with 1 rep maxes, but between 1 and 5 reps is most efficient here.

My preferred technique here is to utilize a compound exercise (exercise involving multiple joints and muscles), ad choosing a weight which you can comfortably use for between 3 and 5 reps. This is a safer approach, and will have similar effects as a true 1 rep max.

After each set, take an extended break of 2-5 minutes. When training for anaerobic endurance, you want to give yourself a larger amount of rest time. Compared with metabolic conditioning, you will be resting much longer in this type of training.

A perfect example of this training method would be performing 3 sets of 3 back squats. This would stimulate anaerobic endurance as you increase the weight you can perform, over time.

The back squat is a perfect compound exercise, and you will absolutely see the improvements from applying this method!

Heavy compound exercises are some of the best exercises to lose arm fat and lose fat all over your body in a short amount of time.

Stationary Bike Sprints:

Anaerobic exercise with bike sprints can be done on a stationary bike or an actual bike, but I prefer the stationary bicycle myself for safety reasons. Ride slowly for a few minutes to warm-up, then begin to train in an interval fashion.

To train for anaerobic endurance and power, you want to have your rest times nearly double as your “work” time. My favorite protocol here is the 20 second work, 40 second break, training cycle.

I utilize many different interval styles on the stationary bicycle to burn fat and build my endurance overall, especially since the stationary bike is very low-impact on your joints!

Check out my article on stationary bike benefits to learn more!

Running Sprints

Such as pretty much all running, when running for anaerobic exercise it is best to be on solid ground, and not a treadmill. The treadmill is pretty much always dangerous for your body and joints, and I recommend staying off of it for anything except walking.

Instead, I suggest that you run outside on a football field, soccer field, or a track. Sprints can also be ran on a basketball court, but I can say I’ve done enough of those in my life that I would much rather be outside given any opportunity!

Running sprints is absolutely one of the best anaerobic exercises, and are normally done with a slightly different protocol than bike sprints. Whereas for bike sprints I normally would suggest a 1:2 ratio of work:rest, for running sprints I suggest a 1:4 ratio of work to rest. Running sprints are more taxing on your body and lungs, so the additional rest time is needed.

My favorite sprint workout for anaerobic endurance is to sprint for 100m, and then proceed to walk back to your starting position. This will naturally even out to about a 1:4 ratio, maybe even more rest (which isn’t a bad thing).

On a basketball court, I will sprint 10 lines as fast as possible (normally which takes under 1 minute), and then rest for 4 minutes, repeating the cycle 3-5 times.

Running sprints is an excellent tool for increasing your anaerobic endurance!

For more options, check out my article: Sprint Workouts for Weight Loss

Jumping Rope

This type of anaerobic exercise is used most often by boxers. Jumping rope is an anaerobic exercise is similar to any type of sprints, and is generally pretty low-impact on your joints.

Along with the anaerobic endurance benefits I will list, below; jumping rope is also incredible because a jump rope is affordable and can travel with you wherever you go!

With this tool, you can work on building anaerobic endurance and power literally anywhere in the world!

To build anaerobic endurance with a jump rope workout, I have personally found a 1:1 work:rest ratio optimal. Although this becomes slightly aerobic as well, series of jumping rope such as 30 seconds all out jumping, and 30 seconds of rest will condition your body very well!

Personally, I prefer to do 1 minute with 1-minute rest, but for a newer trainee 30 seconds or less is better to start with, so you won’t fatigue as quickly.

Remember, you want to be jumping rope as quickly as possible! This is not the time to be leisurely skipping rope; work intensely to achieve the rewards you want!

ERG Rowing

Rowing can be one of the most effective anaerobic exercises, especially because it has minimal impact on your joints.

Rowing is a very difficult exercise for many people, and therefore can quickly improve your anaerobic endurance, and help you shred body fat.

One other benefit of becoming better at ERG workouts is that you can easily buy one for your own house! They do not take up very much space at all, and are quite effective for a quality home workout.

You can check out this awesome website for the best rowing machine reviews.

Owning an ERG rowing machine is an excellent way to make sure you can improve your anaerobic endurance every day, even if you are staying at home!

Swimming Sprints

Swimming can be intensely anaerobic, especially if you are not a swimmer by nature. Swimming is possibly the best cross-training exercise in the world, since there is nearly no stress on the joints of your lower body. Also, it is a great anaerobic exercise because all you need is a pool, a swimsuit, and swim goggles. If you need help choosing the correct swim goggles, this is one of the best guides.

Although I am sure that there are many different sprint-swimming workouts for anaerobic endurance, I have one personal favorite that I use pretty much every time.

To do this workout, you will first swim one length of the (Olympic size) pool, then rest for 1 minute. Next, you will swim 2 lengths of the pool, and rest 2 minutes. You will go up to 5 lengths, and then you are done. Unless you are a trained swimmer, the last 2 sets will probably be exhausting for you.

For me, this workout has always worked incredibly well, and provides excellent off-season conditioning for me!

Tabata Intervals – The Best Anaerobic Interval Workout?

The Tabata interval protocol is the first High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout routine I ever learned.

Doctor Izumi Tabata discovered the “Tabata Interval Protocol” all the way back in 1996 when he and a group of researchers were studying the effects of moderate-intensity training versus high-intensity interval training anaerobic training capacity.

Although known throughout the world as the Tabata interval protocol, Kouichi Irisawa originally introduced this training method. Irisawa was the head coach of the Japanese National Speed Skating Team and had been using this training method for several years with the Japanese Speed Skating Team before testings its efficiency.

The Tabata interval method was originally tested using a stationary bike, although many different exercises can adapt to it. To test the anaerobic conditioning benefits of the Tabata protocol, Dr. Tabata and other researchers conducted two experiments with different exercise intensities.

The first group of test subjects utilized moderate-intensity endurance training (~70% of maximal oxygen uptake-VO2Max) for six weeks and then tested their anaerobic work capacity.

This group did not improve their anaerobic work capacity significantly, which is not surprising. Moderate and low-intensity exercises rarely improve anaerobic conditioning.

Following this initial testing phase, they ran another test on subjects by having them perform “Tabata intervals” for six weeks, which resulted in far superior benefits!

The Tabata intervals consisted of seven or eight sets of 20-second max efforts-where the athletes pushed themselves at about 170% of their VO2Max. In between each 20-second interval, the athletes were allowed only 10 seconds of rest, creating a 2:1 work to rest ratio.

Most workout programs that involve 2:1 work to rest ratios consist of very low-intensity exercises, which is why the Tabata intervals improve your body quicker than other methods!

After the initial training period, the Tabata intervals proved to increase the average VO2Max of each athlete by 7ml/kg per minute- an astounding increase. Along with this, anaerobic capacity was also increased by 28%!

It is incredible that the Tabata intervals created such a staggeringly larger difference in anaerobic work capacity, but what is even more impressive is that the first group exercised a total of 1,800 minutes; while the second group exercised a total of 120 minutes!

Not only do Tabata intervals work your body more intensely, but they also save you time as well!

As stated in the initial study on HIIT Tabata training,

“moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity.. Adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems significantly.”

Although you can use the Tabata interval training method with nearly any exercise, it is more effective with some than others. As the initial study proved, the stationary bike is clearly one of the best options.

However, other compound exercises work as well!

Generally, compound exercises that you can perform easily and aren’t overly technical work best for this interval protocol.  You will produce the most benefits for your body if you choose a movement that you can perform quickly and not overly strain your muscles or joints chosen.

Along with the stationary bicycle, a few of my favorite exercises for this interval method include:

  • Sit-Ups
  • Body Squats
  • Overhead Push Press
  • Burpees
  • Push-Ups
  • ERG Rowing Machine
  • Thrusters
  • Treadmill Sled Push
  • Kettlebell Swings

Although some exercises will not work with Tabata intervals, if you would like to increase your anaerobic endurance, Tabata intervals might just be the best anaerobic interval workout!

Concluding Thoughts My Favorite Anaerobic Endurance Exercises

Building anaerobic endurance is a necessity for athletes of pretty much any sport, and can have many amazing benefits for trainees of all levels. There are many different ways you can build your overall anaerobic endurance, and these are just a few options.

Along with the exercises listed above the prowler sled and the Jacobs Ladder Exercise are probably the next best options for building anaerobic endurance you would want to use.

Try out these methods, and let me know your own personal favorite style of training anaerobic endurance!


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