Anaerobic Exercises for the Abs

Muscular man measuring waist

Anaerobic exercises are high-intensity, short-duration workouts that are effective for building muscle mass and strength training. Some examples of anaerobic exercises are sprinting, weightlifting and crunches. While these exercises may not burn as much fat as aerobic exercises, they are excellent for strengthening and toning your abdominal muscles.

The Abdominals

The rectus abdominis is a long, flat muscle that stretches from your pelvis to your ribs and partially covers the front of your lower torso. This muscle allows you to bend forward when it contracts by bringing your pelvis and rib cage together. The rectus abdominis is also one of the muscles responsible for lifting your head when you're lying on your back. A strong abdominal muscle is important for any activity that involves bending or lifting.

Anaerobic and Aerobic

Anaerobic exercise consists of any vigorous muscular activity that you do for a short period of time. It is often contrasted with aerobic exercise, which is generally lower intensity and can last for significantly longer periods of time. The term "anaerobic" means "without oxygen," meaning your body does not use oxygen to produce the energy it expends during the exercise. Instead, anaerobic burns up carbohydrates to get glycogen for fuel, with lactic acid as a by-product. Lactic acid causes muscle fatigue, which limits the amount of time you will be able to perform an anaerobic exercise. Examples of high-intensity, short-duration anaerobic exercise include sprinting, weightlifting, pushups, jumping or running up stairs. Anaerobic exercise is primarily used in strength training.

Aerobic means "with oxygen," meaning that this form of exercise uses the oxygen from your breathing as its source of energy. Your body uses this oxygen to burn fat and glucose as fuel. Examples of aerobic exercise include long distance running and swimming, and are primarily used to build endurance and lose weight.

Anaerobic Exercises for the Abs

Anaerobic exercises will not burn off as much belly fat as aerobic exercises, but they will strengthen your abs and other muscles in that area. High-intensity, short-duration exercises such as the crunch, situp, pushup and pullup are all classic examples of anaerobic exercises that work out your abs. There are a number of anaerobic exercises that specifically target the abdominals, such as twisting situps, stability ball dumbbell presses, body twists and bent leg raises.


Very high-intensity anaerobic exercises are not recommended for people with heart problems, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or if you are pregnant. As with any new exercise program, consult your doctor first. Warming up and cooling down are very important for anaerobic work outs. Vigorously exercising a "cold" muscle can result in pulls or tears. Lactic acid buildup fatigues your muscles and can cause pain and temporary immobility. Have a recovery period after every anaerobic exercise to allow your muscles to both burn off the excess lactic acid and replenish your oxygen levels. Combine anaerobic strength training with aerobic exercise and a healthy diet for best results.