The Aerobic SystemI thought I’d get down to basics and have an attempt at explaining one of those mystery words that crops up in fitness, if you haven’t guessed here we have the great unveiling of…aerobic! We’ve all heard it but what does it mean, what does it do? Well generally speaking it is a system so I’m going to attempt to answer: What is the aerobic system? The aerobic system is the bodies way of using oxygen to produce energy (Adenosine Triphosphate/ATP) for muscle contraction, it is responsible for long term production of energy, continuing to produce energy over a greater duration where there is a low work load such as when going for a walk.

The aerobic system also works to support the anaerobic system, this system also produces energy but does so much more rapidly though only over a short period as it does this without using oxygen, for example when sprinting; this system produces metabolic by products (they’re what slow us down) such as blood lactate which build up faster than the body can deal with at the time but which an effective aerobic system will readily remove after. Effectively the aerobic system is always governed by oxygen supply and demand -availability, uptake from blood and delivery to tissue.

Developing the aerobic system helps to speed up recovery, particularly between bursts of exercise such as with high intensity interval training, as well as helping to sustain longer periods of exercise bouts. Improving the aerobic system increases the anaerobic threshold -the point where metabolic by products are generated, thereby also allowing exercise to be performed at higher intensities.

There are several protocols suggested for developing the aerobic system including exercising over a long slow distance or duration (more than thirty minutes), performing high intensity intervals, threshold training (focusing on learning where an individuals anaerobic threshold is, exercising for 3-10 minutes at or just below the threshold before resting and repeating), and performing resistance training with high time under tension (increasing the length of time a muscle is under strain).

So there you have it, something to remember the next time you see an ‘aerobic’ class advertised!


Health and Fitness editorial by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here