Guest Blogger: Sasha Flowers

In the realm of fitness, there are an endless number of exercises designed to help keep you in peak physical condition. Among these are exercises that can be classified into movements that will require either aerobic or anaerobic capacity.

The difference between the two is that aerobic capacity depends on oxygen intake for the exercises to be performed. These include activities like brisk walking, cycling, climbing, and running. The goal with aerobic exercises is to improve the heart rate and expand the need for oxygen. This capacity is good for the endurance aspect of activities like CrossFit. In contrast, anaerobic capacities function under conditions with little or no oxygen, such as jumping, sprinting or lifting. While this can result in feeling out of breath, the anaerobic system gets its energy from storage reserves and puts it into the muscle cells. Thus, although there are benefits to both, it’s possible that one may be more important to some athletes than others. 

For example, when it comes to Aussie rules football, it can be argued that having an anaerobic capacity is more useful for the players than an aerobic capacity. A breakdown of a Melbourne-Essendon game notes that agile and quick-footed midfielders could wield an advantage in certain defensive situations, emphasising the need for the player to be able to sprint often in order to get past opposing players. 

Furthermore, the need for anaerobic capacity can also be found in the fact that these players are required to be physically strong in order to compete. This means lifting weights is a vital part of their workout routine. Sydney Swans captain Josh Kennedy has two weights per week sessions in his training routine with one session focusing on strength and the other on power. Athletes like Kennedy look to prioritise increasing their anaerobic capacity, as they are required to move quickly and with a lot of power.

However for other sports where there is focus on endurance and playing for extended periods of time, athletes will look to improve their aerobic capacity. Get the Gloss’ profile on the health and fitness secrets of top tennis players reveals that many of them prepare through aerobic exercises in order to improve their cardio and endurance. For example, Johanna Konta uses rock climbing, an activity requiring high levels of endurance, as a way of adding variety into her training. It’s this dedication to aerobic training that has helped her reach the top of her sport. Johanna Konta is one of Britain’s top sports stars, and is the highest ranked British female tennis player in the last 30 years. Similarly, Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki revealed that one of the ways she prepared during the off-season was running the New York Marathon. This helped her develop her endurance levels, which allowed her to continue to perform at the highest level during long matches. 

Long distance running is a commonly used to improve aerobic capacity, even for sports that tend to focus on anaerobic movements. Rugby star James O’Connor is known to incorporate aerobic training, like trail running in the Blue Mountains, alongside the routine weightlifting he does. This creates a balanced exercise program that allows him to switch easily between aerobic and anaerobic movements.

In conclusion, both anaerobic and aerobic capacity have their merits. Anaerobic capacity is crucial for athletes that need quick, short bursts of power while aerobic capacity helps athletes whose sports require them to be on their feet for much longer periods of time. With this in mind, which of the two should be prioritised is really a matter of what sport you play and the type of athlete you are. 

Exclusively written by Sasha Flowers for