Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise: Which is Best for Men?

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Exercise: Which is Best for Men?

When starting an exercise routine, one of the first decisions is whether to focus on aerobic or anaerobic activities. This guide will compare aerobic vs anaerobic workouts and provide tips on incorporating both for optimal fitness as a man.

Defining Aeclaurobic and Anaerobic Exercise

Aerobic and anaerobic refer to the presence or absence of oxygen during energy production:

Aerobic ("with oxygen") - Activities like jogging, swimming, or cycling performed at moderate intensities for extended periods. The body uses oxygen to produce ATP energy mainly through fat metabolism.

Anaerobic ("without oxygen") - High intensity activities like sprinting or lifting heavy weights performed in short bursts. ATP is produced via glucose metabolism without oxygen present.

Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular endurance. Anaerobic increases strength and power. A combination provides the best functional fitness. Let's explore the differences in more detail.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise for Men

Aerobic exercise provides many benefits especially related to heart health:

  • Strengthens the heart muscle and increases stroke volume
  • Improves cholesterol profile by raising HDL and lowering LDL
  • Lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure
  • Burns calories and body fat, especially visceral belly fat
  • Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and metabolic syndrome
  • Releases endorphins that boost mood and help manage stress/anxiety/depression

If weight loss is a goal, aerobic activities are ideal due to the high calorie burn during sustained efforts. Overall, making aerobic exercise a lifelong habit significantly reduces morbidity and mortality.

Examples of Aerobic Exercise

Here are some excellent aerobic activities for men:

  • Running or jogging outside, on a treadmill, or using interval training
  • Cycling outdoors or stationary bike
  • Swimming laps or water aerobics
  • Rowing machine for intense full-body cardio
  • Utilizing elliptical trainers at various resistance levels
  • Jumping rope provides a portable, inexpensive option
  • Many sports like basketball, soccer, tennis
  • Certain cardiovascular weight machines

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. Training most days is ideal for maintaining cardiovascular adaptation.

Benefits of Anaerobic Exercise for Men

While less aerobically taxing, anaerobic exercise provides crucial strength and neuromuscular benefits:

  • Builds muscle mass especially when combined with proper protein intake
  • Increases basal metabolic rate which helps maintain healthy weight
  • Develops strength for everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, pushing/pulling
  • Reduces risk of musculoskeletal injuries and aids joint stability
  • Counters natural loss of muscle mass as men age (1% per year after 30)
  • Supports bone density and reduces risk of osteoporosis
  • Boosts athletic performance in sports and fitness activities

2-3 days per week of resistance training provides most benefits, combined with sufficient protein intake and rest.

Examples of Anaerobic Exercise

Here are some excellent anaerobic workout options:

  • Free weight lifting with barbells and dumbbells
  • Bodyweight exercises like pushups, pullups, planks, squats
  • Resistance band routines for portable strength training
  • Weight machines at the gym targeting all muscle groups
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts
  • Many team sports like football, hockey, basketball
  • Sprinting or speed training drills
  • Maximum vertical jump training

For muscle growth, focus on progressively overloading muscles and pushing close to failure while allowing sufficient rest between sets for heavy compound lifts.

Benefits of Combining Both Aerobic and Anaerobic

While moderate aerobic exercise and higher intensity anaerobic training both provide substantial individual benefits, research confirms that combining both together results in the greatest overall improvements in physical fitness, health, and longevity. Here's why blending both together is ideal:

  • Aerobic training provides cardiovascular conditioning that enhances stamina for anaerobic efforts.
  • Greater muscle mass from resistance training increases metabolism to amplify fat burning from aerobic workouts.
  • Aerobic exercise improves circulation which aids recovery from anaerobic strength exertion.
  • Full-body functional fitness allows you to meet any physical challenge.
  • Variety keeps motivation high by preventing monotony.
  • Time-efficiency – both forms of exercise can be completed in under an hour if structured properly.

Aim for 2-4 days a week of resistance training supplemented with 3-5 days a week of quality aerobic activity for an unbeatable combo. Let's look at some sample workout blends.

Sample Combined Aerobic and Anaerobic Weekly Routines

Workout A

Mon: Lower body weights + core

Tues: 30-45 min jog

Wed: Upper body weights + interval sprints

Thurs: Swimming or sport activity

Fri: Full body weights

Sat: Long hike, bike ride or team sport

Sun: Rest

Workout B

Mon: Interval runs

Tues: Lower weights + 30 min incline walk

Wed: Swimming

Thurs: Upper weights + core

Fri: 45 min cycling or elliptical

Sat: Sports activity

Sun: Rest

Workout C

Mon: Full body weights

Tues: 45 min treadmill intervals

Wed: Lower weights + 30 min rowing machine

Thurs: Upper weights + core

Fri: HIIT bodyweight circuit

Sat: Long hike or team sport

Sun: Yoga or stretching

There are endless options for synergizing aerobic and anaerobic training. Periodize your focus between the two disciplines over weeks and months depending on specific goals.

Optimizing Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise

To get the most out of your aerobic and anaerobic training:

  • Gradually increase workout length, frequency, and intensity over time to continually experience progress.
  • Periodize training with mesocycles focused more on strength or cardio for 2-3 months before switching emphasis.
  • Address muscle imbalances or weaknesses with corrective exercises to support workout performance and joint health.
  • Allow for proper rest and recovery between intense workouts. Sleep is critical.
  • Incorporate active recovery days like walking or yoga to enhance rest without complete inactivity.
  • Proper nutrient intake around workouts enhances recovery and muscle adaptation. Time protein intake in particular.
  • Ensure proper hydration before, during, and after exercise to perform at your best and avoid cramps.
  • Invest in quality workout shoes and equipment appropriate for each exercise type.

While it requires some trial and error, finding your optimal blend of aerobic and anaerobic training will provide a lifetime of fitness. Next, let's look at some common questions.


Q: If trying to lose weight, should I focus on aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

A: For weight loss, aerobic exercise will burn the most calories and body fat over time. However, adding anaerobic training is crucial to maintain muscle mass and metabolic rate. Aim for 300+ minutes of moderate cardio per week plus 2-3 days of resistance training.

Q: Am I better off doing steady state or HIIT cardio for my aerobic exercise?

A: Combining steady state (e.g. 60 min jog) and HIIT (sprints, bike intervals) workouts allows you to reap the benefits of both. HIIT provides greater fitness gains in less time but shouldn't replace all traditional cardio.

Q: Will anaerobic exercise like weightlifting make me bulky?

A: No, getting "bulky" requires very targeted hypertrophy training combined with a large calorie surplus and excellent genetics for building mass. For most men, weightlifting builds strength and lean muscle but not bulk.

Q: I travel a lot. Can I get a complete workout with just bodyweight exercises?

A: Absolutely! Well-designed bodyweight routines hit every muscle group. Add aerobic exercise like jogging or sprints and you can definitely achieve full-body fitness through an anaerobic and aerobic combination workout.

Q: At 65 years old, should I still lift heavy weights?

A: Yes, but with some precautions. Use lighter weights and higher reps. Include "prehab" movements to prevent injury. Enlist a spotter. And opt for dumbbells or machines to safely get in and out of held positions.

Putting It All Together

The key takeaways regarding aerobic and anaerobic exercise for men are:

  • Aerobic exercise provides cardiovascular benefits while anaerobic increases strength and power.
  • Aim for 20-40 min of daily moderate cardio plus 30-60 min resistance training 2-3 days per week.
  • Combine aerobic and anaerobic training to build comprehensive fitness and maximize results.
  • Adjust modalities periodically to prevent overuse injuries and boredom.
  • Optimize recovery and nutrition around workouts. Make sleep a priority.
  • Be patient and stick with the process. Fitness requires dedication but pays lifelong dividends.

Figure out a sustainable routine that keeps you active daily through a blend of activities you enjoy. Consistency is the key. Your future self will thank you for laying this fitness foundation. Now go get exercising!

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