What is Anaerobic Threshold, and Why Should You Care?

What is Anaerobic Threshold, and Why Should You Care?

Vigorous-intensity exercise can improve both aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold levels.  Anaerobic threshold training improves your ability to work at higher intensities, generally efforts last 3 minutes or less. To improve rowing performance, it's essential to explore lower intensity (steady-state) cardio and high intensity to help shave seconds off of your rowing times.  

Anaerobic workouts using a rower can build muscle, preserve muscle mass, strengthen bones and burn fat through caloric expenditure.  

This article explores the ins and outs of aerobic and anaerobic threshold training and why you should care!

What is Anaerobic Threshold (AT)

The body can produce energy in two ways: aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.  Most of the time, you're going to be using aerobic metabolism (with oxygen). Anaerobic metabolism is a form of energy your body uses when it can take in and utilize sufficient oxygen to meet current exertional demands.  Your body switches over to anaerobic when you’re exercising at a high intensity for short periods.

Anaerobic threshold is often referred to as our personal "engine capacity." Anaerobic threshold (AT) is an exercise intensity that switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism.  Anaerobic threshold involves drastic increases in breathing rate and the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. In other words, you start to feel high-level fatigue, and soon after that, muscles lose the ability to maintain the intensity.  

At this point, you’re forced to slow down or stop.  

What is Lactate Threshold Concept?

Lactate threshold is the intensity of exercise at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood faster than it can be removed.  Lactic acid begins to increase rapidly.  

According to this study, the lactate threshold is expressed as 85% of maximum heart rate or 75% of maximum oxygen uptake.  

Exercising below the lactate threshold allows the muscles to remove any lactate and avoid buildup. 

How to Measure Your Anaerobic Threshold?

You can measure your anaerobic threshold in a few different ways.  

Anaerobic threshold can be measured by tracking heart rate (beats per minute) while training at high intensities.  Heart rate can be calculated using a heart rate monitor or by counting beats per minute using your fingers just below your wrist (radial artery) or on the side of the neck (carotid artery).  

The sensation from anaerobic threshold training will feel like a burning in the muscles. You may also feel your muscles stiffen as the lactic acid is working to be cleared.  Heart rate will be high and breathing heavy.  

A talk test can be performed to gauge intensity.  During anaerobic threshold training on the rower, you won’t be able to carry on a conversation.  The intensity will be too high, breathing too heavy.  

The rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is another simple way to gauge your training intensity.  RPE is a way of measuring physical activity intensity level, or how hard you feel like your body is working.  The RPE scale goes from 1-10, with 1 being easy exercise and 10 maximal effort.  

Anaerobic threshold workouts are done at a perceived exertion of 7 or greater.  On the rate of perceived exertion scale, 7-8 is considered vigorous activity. 

Training Zone

The training zone for anaerobic threshold work should be 85% of maximum heart rate or more, unable to carry a conversation, RPE of 7-8, and clear burning sensation or fatigue in the legs.   

Aerobic threshold can be identified easily using a rower.  Start by rowing for 10-15 minutes at an easy stroke rate and intensity on a rowing machine.  Breathe through your nose only, increasing the effort until you must open your mouth to assist with breathing.  You’ve just found your aerobic threshold.  

Finding your anaerobic threshold training zones is less of an exact science.  The effort must be greater than aerobic work, which means power output and high intensity.  On a rowing machine, this means using a higher stroke rate and more power in each stroke.  

Considering RPE, talk-test, and a heart rate of 85% of max, most anaerobic rowing efforts are going to last between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.  Beyond 3 minutes, the intensity will drop off, and exercise either slows or stops.  

Anaerobic threshold performance is best improved using interval training of varying durations, between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.  Designating an adequate time to recovery after each effort is essential so that work intervals maintain intensity.  

Check out this blog post for effective rowing workouts.

What are the Benefits of Anaerobic Threshold to Your Muscle?

Anaerobic threshold training allows your body to adapt to performing well during higher intensity efforts. Regularly rowing at a higher intensity will put your body under enough stress to make it change and adapt.  

According to this article, anaerobic threshold training can strengthen bones, burn fat, build muscle and maintain muscle mass. 

Rowing total body workout cardio and strength workout, which means it’s an ideal machine to implement anaerobic exercise.  

Differences Between Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Threshold?

Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to break down fatty acids, which provide fuel to the muscles.  These efforts are slower and long-lasting.  During aerobic exercise, you will be able to have a light conversation.  Aerobic threshold performance dictates your speed for efforts around 2 hours or more. 

Anaerobic threshold training involves producing energy more quickly so that we can exercise at higher intensities.  The body will use carbohydrates in the form of glycogen stored in the muscles and liver for fuel.  These efforts are generally only a few minutes long.  

The trade-off for quick energy and high intensity is not able to sustain that and range intensity. 

How to Improve at Threshold Workout?

To improve threshold performance, you must be training at high intensities.  

The more you perform high-intensity workouts, the better your body becomes at processing lactate in the body, and anaerobic conditioning also improves.  By regularly engaging in high-intensity rowing workouts, you'll improve your performance and be able to row faster when you need to. 

As with any physical exercise that you intend to improve, the key is consistency. Keep the rowing efforts high and remain consistent with your training throughout the week.

Over time, you should see incremental improvements in time while rowing consistent distances.  

Note:  Your rowing training plan should include a mixture of high intensity, lower intensity (aerobic) workouts, and rest days.  Avoid going hard all of the time.  The body needs a chance to rest, recover and adapt to the stress. 

What is Training Heart Rate Range and How to Find Them?

According to the Mayo Clinic, another way to gauge exercise intensity is by tracking your heart rate. To use this method, you must figure out your maximum heart rate.  Subtract your age from 220 to estimate a maximum heart rate.  

If you’re 30 years old, 220 minus 30 puts your maximum heart rate at 190 bpm.  

From there, you're able to find moderate and vigorous exercise intensity.  Moderate-intensity exercise is 50-70% of maximum heart rate or 95-133 bpm.  Vigorous-intensity exercise is 70-85% of maximum heart rate or 133-162 bpm.  

Why Use Rower Machine to Improve Aerobic Threshold?

GoRowinGo’s water rowing machine is the perfect tool to improve both aerobic and anaerobic thresholds.  Rowing is a total body workout that conditions the upper and lower body, and the uniqueness of rowing incorporates both a cardio and strength training stimulus.  You can use the performance monitor to gauge stroke rate and power output.  This ensures rowing effort is in a range conducive to improving these thresholds.  In twenty minutes or less, you’re able to build muscle and improve cardio with a rowing machine. 

Learn more at GoRowinGo


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