Heart Rate During Anaerobic Exercise

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During anaerobic exercise, your heart rate speeds up, putting you closer to your maximum heart rate. Anaerobic exercise differs from aerobic activity in other ways, too. Working out within this training zone isn't associated with prolonged physical activity required during aerobic exercise. Rather, anaerobic exercise is associated with activities that require short, intense bursts of energy.

Aerobic and Anaerobic

"Aerobic" literally means "with oxygen," and "anaerobic" means "without oxygen." During aerobic activity, your body uses oxygen to convert carbohydrates into fuel. During anaerobic exercise, your body uses the carbohydrates stored in your muscles, called glycogen, according to the American Council on Exercise. One byproduct of anaerobic exercise is lactic acid, which makes your muscles ache and burn after a bout of intense activity, such as running up steps. This burning sensation is your physical cue to stop or slow down so your body can recover.

Heart Rate

A simple way to determine your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from the number 220; for women, the heart rate max calculation is more complex -- 206 minus 88 percent of your age. Working out in the aerobic zone has your heart pumping at between 70 percent and 80 percent of its maximum. Your anaerobic zone is somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of your MHR. For example, if you are 40-year-old woman, your MHR is 171. When you train within the aerobic zone, your heart beats between 120 and 137 beats per minute. Exercising in the anaerobic zone has your heart beating between 137 and 154 bpm.


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Anaerobic activity is any activity that lasts from 30 seconds to two minutes. Examples include weight lifting, sprinting and any sport that involves a short burst of extremely intense activity. In the context of your fitness program, you may find yourself entering the anaerobic zone when you do interval training such as alternating between walking for two minutes and running for two minutes.


If you've just started an exercise program, don't push yourself into the anaerobic zone. ACE indicates that most healthy adults exercise so their heart beats between 50 percent and 80 percent of their MHR. When starting out, keep your target heart rate at the low end of this range, ACE advises. Increase the intensity of your exercise as your body becomes stronger.

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