How to Improve Your Anaerobic Endurance for Power Output

How to Improve Your Anaerobic Endurance for Power Output

+ BONUS Anaerobic Conditioning Workout

Explosive strength and power is one of the key factors for peak performance in combat sport. But it’s not just about how hard you go on the mats, it’s also about how long you can keep it up for! Working at such high intensity - even for short periods - can leave you feeling gassed in no time. This is where building your anaerobic endurance becomes a powerful weapon: so you can maximise bursts of intense power for longer.

In this article, we explain what anaerobic endurance is, the difference from aerobic exercise, and exercises that will help build you anaerobic endurance.

What is anaerobic endurance?

Anaerobic endurance is needed for high-intensity exercise that involves maximising your power output. Literally meaning ‘without oxygen’, this form of exercise relies on breaking down glucose as the source of fuel. Exercises such as sprinting, jumping and HIIT are all anaerobic.

Benefits of building anaerobic endurance include:

  • Boosts metabolism by building lean muscle
  • Increases lactic threshold, allowing you to work harder for longer periods of time
  • Boosts energy by enhancing your body’s ability to store glycogen

Anaerobic training vs Aerobic training: What’s the difference?

The core difference between the two forms of exercise is oxygen utilization. Opposite to anaerobic, aerobic means ‘with oxygen’ and uses a continuous supply of oxygen to maintain the current level of exercise. This is usually a light to moderate form of exercise that enhances your body’s ability to meet the demands for higher and faster oxygen and energy.

On the other hand, anaerobic exercises involve bursts of vigorous activity that cause a shortage of oxygen delivery to the working muscles. Instead, energy is derived from the process of breaking down glucose (a process known as glycolysis) for a quick supply of fuel.

Which is more important for combat sport: aerobic or anaerobic endurance?

Put simply: both. Combat sport requires a complex combination of both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. The anaerobic system is most important in the phases of repetitive high-intensity efforts. For instance, 2 - 3 minute bouts of moderate to high intensity in MMA are predominantly fuelled by the anaerobic system.

However, aerobic endurance is necessary to recover both between and within bouts. This will differ between styles of combat sport and the intensity and competition length. Sports like boxing, kickboxing and MMA with multiple rounds will be more demanding on the aerobic system. However, sports with single rounds will also require significant aerobic endurance. Increased oxygen availability, improving lactate removal and enhancing PCr regeneration as a result of greater aerobic capacity will likely benefit the repeat-effort ability for combat athletes. Additionally, the induced physiological adaptions such as increased mitochondrial respiratory capacity, faster oxygen uptake kinetics, accelerated post-effort muscle re-oxygenation rate, improved lactate and ventilatory thresholds and a greater VO2max may also be beneficial for endurance.


“In order to build elite level conditioning, fighters must have a solid aerobic base with a well-developed capacity for anaerobic efforts.”

Geoffrey Chiu, Performance Coach

Exercises to improve anaerobic endurance


Sprinting at your maximum pace is necessary for a true anaerobic workout. Tracks of 50m, 100m or 200m are ideal with walking or jogging in between for active recovery.

HIIT Workouts

If running isn’t your thing, rounds of high-intensity interval training are a great alternative. Aim for 90% of maximum heart rate for explosive bursts of 10 to 15 seconds, followed by 30 to 60 seconds of recovery.


Plyometric exercises use speed and force of movement to enhance your endurance, strength and speed. Incorporate the following exercises into your HIIT workout or on their own for a killer workout that will enhance your anaerobic capacity in no time:

  • Squat jumps: Squat down and then drive through your heels to jump off the ground, landing lightly and lowering straight down into another squat.
  • Lunge jumps: Step one leg back into a lunge and then drive up explosively and swap legs.
  • Box jumps: As you become comfortable with the box height you’re using, upgrade to a taller one to continue progressing.

Not sure how to put a good workout together? We’ve taken care of that for you with the following two killer workouts.

Anaerobic Conditioning Workout for combat athletes

Perform as many reps as possible of each exercise for 60 seconds followed by a 15 seconds rest one after the other with no rest in between.

Rest for 2 minutes and repeat for 3 Full Rounds.

Workout Time = 41 minutes.

Warm up before and stretch after this workout.

Exercise List

1. Heavy Kettlebell Swings 36 KG.

2. Regular Burpees

3. Abs V-Ups

4. Alternating Knee to Chest Push Up Burpees

5. Dumbbell Thrusters – 30 lbs.

6. Alternating One Leg Kick Back Burpees

7. DB Renegade Row – 30 lbs.

8. Plyo Lunge Burpees (Jump Lunge Burpees)

9. Kickouts

10. Tuck Jump Burpees

Pro Tip: Take CMBT LOADED 20 minutes before this workout for a surge of clean, sustainable energy to enhance your power, performance and focus. Click here to find out more.

Aerobic conditioning workout for combat athletes

Utilising an Airdyne (airbike) complete the following session

  • 2 minute warmup
  • 2 minutes work with heart rate between 60%-75% max heart rate
  • 2 minutes rest with heart rate being brought back under 60%
  • Repeat for 8 rounds

Pro Tip: Enhance both your anaerobic and aerobic performance with CMBT OCTANE during your training session, using scientifically proven ingredients to improve your power output. Click here to find out more.

Caution: The dangers of overtraining

Although building your anaerobic endurance may provide a competitive edge over your opponent, aerobic training should not be dismissed as part of your regular workout routine. Incorporating an unnecessary amount of anaerobic training increases the risk of overtraining, sub-optimal recovery and heightening your risk of injury, which will be more likely to set you back than accelerate your progress.

Click here to read more about the symptoms and dangers of overtraining syndrome.


Unique to many other sports, combat sport is complex in its demands on the body and optimal performance requires considering a number of different factors related to training and nutrition. Whilst anaerobic endurance is necessary to perform at high levels of intensity, aerobic endurance is also important to ensure adequate recovery between bursts of power. We recommend seeking advice from your coach to create a schedule that includes an ideal balance of anaerobic and aerobic exercises to safely build endurance according to your style of combat sport.