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Anaerobic endurance refers to the ability to sustain intense, short duration activity such as weight lifting or sprinting.[1] Anaerobic means "without oxygen". During anaerobic work, involving maximum effort, the body is putting forth so much effort that the demands for oxygen and fuel exceed the rate of supply; the muscles have to rely on the stored reserves of fuel. The muscles, being deprived of oxygen, go into what is known as oxygen debt.[2] The body's stored fuel soon runs out and activity ceases - painfully. This is called lactic threshold or anaerobic threshold or onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA).[2] Activity will not be resumed until the lactic acid is removed and the oxygen debt is repaid. Fortunately, the body can resume limited activity after even only a small proportion of the oxygen debt has been repaid.[2] Since lactic acid is produced, the correct term for this pathway is lactic anaerobic energy pathway, also called the glyocolytic pathway.

The alactic anaerobic pathway is the one in which the body is working anaerobically but without the production of lactic acid. This pathway can exist only so long as the fuel actually stored in the muscle lasts, approximately 4 seconds at maximum effort.[2]

Anaerobic endurance can be sub-divided as follows:

Short anaerobic - less than 25 seconds (mainly alactic) Medium anaerobic - 25 seconds to 60 seconds (mainly lactic) Long anaerobic - 60 seconds to 120 seconds (lactic +aerobic)


  1. Better Bodz (n.d.). Anaerobic Endurance. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Mac, Brian (n.d.). Endurance Training. Retrieved on 2008-10-04.