One of the popular questions on the internet is, what are the best type of exercises for a lean, toned and muscular body?  Our answer lies within exercises that train your anaerobic systems.   Other popular answers discuss cardio and resistance training including their benefits – resistance training is also a preferred method for yours truly.  Reasoning behind this approach is due to the fact that it is the energy systems rather than type of exercises contributing to the internal environments towards leaner selves.  Let’s take a look at some basics physical aspects that are required to achieve this feat.

Related Article: Energy Systems and ATP

male lean body - anaerobic

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Systems

Aerobic means involving or improving oxygen consumption in the body – Aerobic (Oxidative) System being a major energy supplier.   Exercises that utilize the aerobic system are often performed over a continuous periods of time (minutes to hours) and predominantly include slow-twitch muscle fibers for force production.  Examples include exercises where demand for oxygen by the body can keep up with the demand for force production.  Such training often include variety of continuous physical activity such as jogging, cycling and steady pace running.

Anaerobic means without oxygen in order to produce force during exercise.  These styles of exercise use ATP-CP as the initial energy engagement and switches to Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolysis) System as the dominant energy driver.  Anaerobic movements often require short bursts of intense activity lasting brief durations of time (seconds to minutes) using fast-twitch muscle fibers in order to produce force.  Examples of such training would include any style of exercise where demand for force production is higher than demand for oxygen by the body.  These may include but not limited to sprinting protocols, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and high intensity (heavy) weightlifting.

The Physique

female lean body - anaerobicMost people are searching for the ultimate exercise routine that will propel their physique to the new fitness prowess.  The ideal body type for males often resembles the likes of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man as females desire a toned body of a fitness or Victoria Secret model.  So how do we achieve this physique?  The answer lies in how an exercise is performed rather then what exercise is performed.  Lets take running for example.  The first option involves a short jog around the urban city block while gently moving your feet and developing a rhythm barely above the resting heart rate.  The second way is to perform the same exercise but at accelerated pace increasing your speed and running with intensity; or alternating intensity through time intervals during your run.  The second option is a more difficult both mentally and physically – as your legs will likely begin to ache just from thinking about it.  Resistance training exercises like weightlifting fall within the same strenuous category for the body and the mind.  We often want change but not sure how to begin and navigate this journey towards fitness transformation.  Usual attendance to the gym with good intentions to work out turns into a social gathering rather than a place where physical stimulus is served along with intensity.  A person spending most of their time in the gym stretching and exercising in front of TV screen will unlikely test his or her physical levels.  To obtain that “physique”  principles of progressive overload need to be followed by adding intensity to training – presented through increasing weight, frequency and volume.  By performing exercises through full range of motion with good technique while utilizing small rest periods will result in elevated heart rate prompting an anaerobic environment – initiating continuous transformation of your physique. 

Related Article on Progressive Overload – Coming Soon!

The Truth

Training within your Anaerobic Systems has been clinically proven as the fastest method to reshape your body creating more muscular and tighter version.  If this is a proven fact, then why so many of us still looking for these magical exercises?  The answer is because training in such a way is – painful.  Glycolysis system creates hydrogen ions (H+) as byproduct when generating ATP production.  These hydrogen ions cause muscle fatigue by making muscle cells more acidic while interfering with energy production (slowing Glycolysis) and muscle contraction.  Accumulation of these hydrogen ions feels like a deep burning sensation within your working muscles. 

As the body begins to hurt, the brain signals to end the physical stress by stopping the training – and many of us oblige.  Psychologically we then begin to look for another less painful alternative to reach our desired physique.

We often fancy bodies of athletes like sprinters, gymnasts, swimmers and rowers to name a few.  The way to achieve such feat is to follow the principle of specificity and train like them in similar fashion.  Such conditioning may not make you as fast or as strong as a desired professional counterpart but performing those training protocols with intensity will produce stronger, leaner and faster version of yourself.

Final Thoughts

Training your anaerobic systems is the best way towards becoming leaner – increasing your lean body mass while decreasing your fat reserves.  Exercising in such a way is both painful and rewarding.  However if you stick with it, you will continue to elevate your fitness and physique.  For more ideas on this style of training and information on aerobic and anaerobic systems, check out our Books:

Stronger Leaner Faster HIM

Stronger Leaner Faster HER