Aerobic versus Anaerobic Training for Burning Fat

Posted by Hannah Olliver on 7 November 2013

Do you want to shed body fat and improve overall health? The key to success is high intensity interval training accompanied by strength training. Research shows that the greatest chance of burning fat is by hard but short bursts of exercise. This style of exercise utilises the anaerobic system, more than the aerobic.

This article will outline four reason why to favour anaerobic style training to shed body fat by weight training and sprints, opposed to long winded aerobic exercise.

ONE: Burn More Fat With Sprint Intervals
Anaerobic training to more beneficial for burning fat as it requires the body to adjust metabolically. The body must adjust to use fat as fuel to sustain the level of intensity being asked of it. This is because the anaerobic energy system utilises energy different to aerobic exercise. The aerobic system tends to burn carbohydrates, then protein, before fats. This can be degrading to muscle. On the other hand, the anaerobic system increases enzyme production involved in fat breakdown, and uses pathways that lead to muscle development.  It also raises energy use for up to 24 hours after the completion of exercise. This is due to the large increase in excess oxygen consumption, required for trained muscle cells to rest and restore physiologica22817904 ml5l factors in the cells. This means, you are still burning energy and body fat even once you stop training. Along with anaerobic training burning more fat, it also allows for losing it faster and with less training time. Studies continually show that high intensity training over a period of 20 to 25 minutes is more effective for fat loss than 45 to 60 minute sessions.

TWO: Sprint Intervals Improve Hormone Response
Anaerobic training, including sprint intervals, improves the endocrine system, raises growth hormone, and the hormone adiponectin in released. This enhances insulin sensitivity (meaning anaerobic training a successful form of treatment for diabetes) and fat burning, while helping repair tissue and build muscle. For growth hormone to be released in large quantities, the body must be under physical stress above the lactate threshold. This is why sprints and heavy anaerobic training is so effective. This is the same with the hormone adiponectin. When you execute strong muscle contractions, adiponectin is released. When this hormone is released, the body produces PGC1 (Phosphatidyl Glycerol Phospholipase C), which is required to regulate genes involved in muscle and metabolic functions. Therefore due to the energy expended performing forceful contractions during heavy weight training and sprints, greater levels of growth hormone and adiponectin, and consequently PGC1 are delivered, resulting in burning fat.

THREE: Use Strength Training To Shed Body Fat
Metabolically intense, high volume training, using large or multi-joint muscle groups at once, with short rest periods is most advantageous when looking to burn body fat.  This is due to the increase in growth hormone and adiponectin, both assisting in body fat reduction. Short, sharp, and heavy is the way to go.

Anaerobic strength training is beneficial for reducing the amount of cortisol produced. Cortisol is the stress hormone which is released when the body is under physical and psychological stress. Research shows that endurance (aerobic) athletes produce chronically high levels. Cortisol is also elevated during heavy weight training and sprints, but hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone which are produced during anaerobic training counteract the negative effects of this.  If these anabolic hormones do not elevate or do not elevate enough, which is the case with aerobic training, cortisol engulfs body tissue. This has a catabolic effect, in which high cortisol can lead to gradual muscle loss, decreased metabolic rate, fat gain, and chronic inflammation in the body.

FOUR: Have More Fun With Anaerobic Training
Anaerobic training can be done in less time than standard aerobic training, can encompass greater variety of exercises, and results in reduced time to see results. This helps with keeping motivation levels high. While training this way can be mentally testing, the short time helps to keep things exciting, challenges the body, and can be empowering for the individual. The aim is to work harder, but smarter. A training buddy or trainer can be beneficial in assisting with push through when in your mind you think you cannot do it alone.

A few final suggestions - modify circuit, cardiovascular, and crossfit training to suit. For example perform sled pulls, tire flips, stair running, sprint training or use supersets that have very short rest periods.

Happy Fat Shedding Everyone!