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Differences Between Anaerobic and Aerobic Adaptations in Training


People respond differently in each training program. Ultimately, an individualized training program is needed to address the specific needs and responses of the trainee. However, the extent of performance depends on the size of a trainee adaptation window referred to as genetic ceiling for change. The effectiveness of various exercises used in training program defines the amount of physiological adaptation. Exercise training programs need to change and provide variation to keep exercise stimulus effective in eliciting positive changes or maintaining sport fitness. In addition, an athlete training program is different from that of a trainer who is training for good health and fitness. (Baechele & Earle, 1994). Careful balance is therefore needed in the exercise programs to integrate the different types of training in a total conditioning program. There are two types of training program namely anaerobic, and aerobic training.

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Anaerobic Training

This kind of training involves two primary energy sources. Anaerobic glycolysis constitutes phosphagen and glycolysis systems, in which aerobic metabolism plays a vital role in maintaining the power of output and recovery energy stores. The second contribution depends on how the body responds to intensity, duration, and rest intervals during a training session. Phosphagen system involves short duration and high intensity with long rest periods whereas glycolytic system involves longer, and less intense with shorter rest periods. Anaerobic training concentrating on phosphagen system is typically done under 10s in duration and provides almost a complete recovery of 5-7 min. So lactic acid does not accumulate to large extent and athletes can perform at maximal intensities. Glycolytic conditioning (enhance acid-buffering mechanisms) has shorter rest periods and performances at less than optimal speed and power output (Kraemer & Vladimir, 2006). Anaerobic training consists of neural adaptation and muscular adaptation.

Neural Adaptations to Anaerobic Training

The activation of motor units is influenced by a concept called the size principle. The motor units that contain Type I and Type II fibers are organized according to size factor; starting with smaller then larger fibers. In typical recruitment, low threshold motor units are recruited first and have lower force capabilities than higher threshold motor units, which can produce more force (Baechele & Earle, 1994).

Muscular Adaptations to Anaerobic Training

This involves hypertrophy (increase in fiber size) and hyperplasia (increase in number of muscle cells, although it is debated whether it occurs or not).

Adaptations to anaerobic depend on increased demands placed on neuromuscular system. With initiation of heavy exercises, changes in muscle protein take place within couple of workouts. Muscle fiber hypertrophy appears to take >16 workouts to increase contractile protein content in muscle cell.

Aerobic Training Adaptations

As with anaerobic, aerobic endurance training requires proper progression, variation, specificity, and overload if physiological adaptations are to take place. Aerobic metabolism plays vital role in human performance and is basic to all sports, if for no other reason than recovery. Athletes can gain aerobic training adaptations without necessary using long-distant running because a number of alternative training programs exist (interval training). Intensity of training is one of most important factors in improving and maintaining aerobic power. For instance, short, high intensity bouts of interval sprints can improve maximal oxygen uptake if interim rest period is also short (Kraemer & Vladimir, 2006). Aerobic endurance training results in reduced body fat, increased maximal oxygen uptake, lower blood lactate concentrations, increased mitochondria and capillary densities.

Nervous system adaptations play a role in early stages of aerobic endurance training. There is increase in efficiency as well as delayed fatigue of contractile mechanisms.

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Baechele, R., & Earle, W. (1994). Essentials of strength Training and Conditioning. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Kraemer, W. J., & Vladimir, M. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

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StudyCorgi. "Differences Between Anaerobic and Aerobic Adaptations in Training." November 20, 2021.


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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Differences Between Anaerobic and Aerobic Adaptations in Training'. 20 November.

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