Anaerobic Capacity

Original Editor - User Name Top Contributors - Aragya Khadka, Manisha Shrestha, Lucinda hampton and Kim Jackson

Anaerobic Capacity

Anaerobic capacity is defined as the maximal amount of adenosine triphosphate resynthesized via anaerobic metabolism (by the whole organism) during a specific mode of short-duration maximal exercise.


Adenosine triphosphate or ATP. is the immediately available source of energy for all cellular metabolism including muscle contraction.

Cells can store only limited amount of ATP, therefore ATP must be constantly generated to provide needed energy for all cellular metabolism.

Cells can generate ATP through any one ( or a combination of ) following metabolic pathways:

  1. Substrate level Phosphorylation ( ATP-PC system)
  2. The glycolytic system(Glycolysis)
  3. The oxidative system( oxidative phosphorylation)
    • The first two system can occur in the absence of oxygen and are jointly called anaerobic metabolism.
    • The third system requires oxygen and is called aerobic metabolism.


To generate ATP ,a phosphate group is added to a relatively low energy compound, ADP, in a process called phosphorylation.

Anaerobic Metabolism:

Many sports like 100 metre race ,involves quick bursts of speed at high intensities . An athlete's ability to quickly utilize and produce energy determines their perfomance. ATP is produced by the breakdown of glucose and glycogen( the storage form of glucose). The muscular stores of ATP is very limited and gets depleted within a seconds after a activity. Normally anaerobic system works from the second of start of exercise till 2 minutes. As exercises progresses past 2 minutes greater demands are placed on the long term energy system of aerobic metabolism.

Training for improved Anaerobic Capacity:

I. Training to improve ATP-PC system:

Training to improve the ATP-PC system involves a special type of interval training. For maximally stressing the ATP-PC system-short, high intensity intervals( five to ten seconds) using the muscles are ideal. The rest interval may range between 30 -60 seconds depending on the fitness level of athletes.

ii. Training to improve Glycolytic system:

After approx, ten seconds of maximal effort ,there is growing dependence on energy production from anaerobic glycolysis. IN order to improve glycolytic system, the subject must overload the system via short term, high intensity efforts. In general, high intensity intervals of 20-60 seconds duration are useful in overloading this metabolic pathway.