Strength and endurance training enhance your quality of life and helps you develop better body mechanics. It protects you from joint injuries and muscle diseases and naturally boosts your energy levels.
To effectively train and maintain your goals, you must first understand the science behind what you’re trying to achieve. Developing knowledge about the parts of your body at work when you’re strength and endurance training will guide you to make informed decisions about your health and fitness journey.
Here is your simplified guide to the systems at work when you’re training and the muscle fibres that come together to control the forces in your body.
Identifying the difference between the anaerobic and aerobic systems
Your anaerobic system helps your body create energy quickly without oxygen, using glucose as fuel to build lactic acid in the muscles. Provoked through high-power exercises, the anaerobic system is best targeted in short bursts of time with high intensity. These workouts increase your stamina, burn fat, and help you build muscle. They also demand more energy than your aerobic system.
Your aerobic system helps your body create energy with continuously sustained oxygen, without needing more fuel from another source. Slower-paced, lower-intensity exercises over periods benefit this system best. These workouts assist in cardiovascular conditioning, increasing your heart rate, and positively impacting your lungs and circulatory systems. These are what we most associate with the term, cardio.
‘Once I identified how my body benefits from anaerobic and aerobic exercises differently, I was able to specify my workouts to create a marriage between the two. The aerobic exercises give me the stamina increase I need to endure the anaerobic ones and not experience burnout,’ says Brett Larkin, founder and CEO of Uplifted Yoga.
Understanding the three different muscle fibres and what they do
‘I didn’t know what my body was capable of until I took the time to understand the different muscle fibres in my body. It helped me improve my balance and mobility by helping me target certain areas I previously knew nothing about and decreased my risk of injury,’ says Matt Scarfo, NASM certified personal trainer, resident training, and nutrition expert at Lift Vault.
Slow-twitch, type I muscle fibres support your aerobic metabolism and fatigue resistance. Most commonly used with aerobic exercises, they induce a slow force, assisting in stabilisation, benefitting postural control, and producing fuel for continuous muscle contractions that will extend over time.
Fast-twitch, type IIa muscle fibres support both your aerobic and anaerobic metabolism to create energy. Though they’re fired more quickly than a slow-twitch muscle, their power force most commonly produces similar contractions that slow-twitch muscles do. They’re known as intermediate, unable to endure as much fatigue and requiring more intensity.
Fast-twitch, type IIb muscle fibres support your anaerobic metabolism with the quickest and most powerful force. Using the most strength and endurance, these fibres are stimulated during brief durations of the highest intensity. Like bursts of speed, their contraction rate is the highest meaning so is the rate of fatigue.
Note that your muscle fibres will adapt to the stimulus you give them. Muscle cells increase as your resistance does, grouping in bundles and accelerating the path for intentional movement in your limbs and other tissues.
Connecting the science to your strength and endurance goals
The key is to develop a full-body workout plan based on the knowledge you now know about how your body works. Your fitness goals will determine the type of exercises you should place at the forefront of your regime.
Aerobic exercises are well suited for beginners. You will increase your heart rate and blood flow to the muscles and lungs while avoiding exertion. Think sustainable strength pacing. You are slow-twitch fibres and have a high aerobic capacity.
Some of these exercises include:
- low-impact dancing
- jumping jacks
Remember, if you have any cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure or blood clots, consider consulting with a doctor about which exercises will serve your health to avoid any unnecessary stress on your body. Anaerobic workouts are better for those more experienced with exercise.
They will require more stored energy rather than oxygen, meaning you’ll need to build agility first. Your fact-twitch fibres have a high anaerobic capacity. Think short bursts of strength.
Some of these exercises include:
- bench pressing
- high-intensity interval training
Remember, anaerobic workouts can be extremely demanding on your body. It is important to be knowledgeable about basic fitness before taking these on. Think about reaching out to a personal trainer or fitness expert to assist you in creating a routine that won’t result in injury. The American Heart Association says: ‘Aerobic exercise should be incorporated five days a week, adding in at least two anaerobic sessions when seeking to pay attention to targeting specific muscles.’
You want to approach your fitness goals with mindful consistency to increase strength and endurance. The intention behind your goals is a key element to successfully maintaining a workout regime that sticks. Assess your goals based on your current strength and endurance and work from there.
Use the science behind how your body interacts with the exercise of all levels and intensity to build muscle for a leaner, healthier version of yourself. Know your limits, work within them, and increase intensity at your own pace.
Brett Elizabeth Larkin, the founder and CEO of Uplifted Yoga.