Home Training Bodybuilding What is the Difference Between Anabolic vs Catabolic Workout

What is the Difference Between Anabolic vs Catabolic Workout

What is the Difference Between Anabolic vs Catabolic Workout Fitsaurus

What is the Difference Between Anabolic vs Catabolic Workout?

  • Anabolism is a metabolic process where the body synthesizes complex molecules by utilizing the energy. The complex molecules are utilized to create cellular structures from the precursors which act as building blocks. The process requires energy. Anabolic processes generate complex cell components such as proteins and lipids from basic substances.
  • Stages of Anabolism

Anabolism has three stages:

  • Stage 1 : Precursors production such as amino acids, monosaccharides, and nucleotides.
  • Stage 2: Activation of the precursors using energy.
  • Stage 3: Precursors assembly into proteins, lipids and nucleic acids.


  • Sources of energy for anabolic processes

Plants can produce complex organic molecules from simple molecules using the solar energy. Heterotrophs require a source of complex substances to make similar type molecules. Photoautotrophs and photoheterotrophs obtain energy from light. Chemoautotrophs and chemoheterotrophs receive energy from inorganic oxidation process.

  • Anabolic hormones stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth. Steroidal hormones are traditionally classified as anabolic hormones due to the nature of their effects on the body.
  • Estrogen is present in females. It is produced in ovaries. It is responsible for regulating several female sexual characteristics, regulate the menstrual cycle, and strengthen bone mass.
  • Testosterone is found in males and is produced in the testes. It manages male sexual characteristics, strengthens bones, and help maintain muscle mass.
  • Insulin is secreted by beta cells in the pancreas. It regulates the blood sugar level and use of glucose. Human body cannot use glucose without insulin. Lack of insulin leads to a condition called diabetes.
  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is secreted by the pituitary gland which stimulates and regulates growth during the early stages of life. Later, it helps manage bone strength.
  • Anabolic exercise is also known as “strength training.” It is necessary to overload the muscle and allow the hormones to build muscle tissue. Anabolic exercises help to build muscle mass. Any anaerobic (non-oxygen using) exercise is anabolic. The term ‘Anaerobic’ means without oxygen. Anaerobic exercises are the activities done at high intensity for short periods. These exercises help the body to use its reserves of energy. The body uses amino acids to increase protein reserves. Anaerobic exercise consists of brief and intense physical activity, such as weightlifting, sprinting, and skipping rope where oxygen demand is more than oxygen supply. Anaerobic exercise is fuelled by energy stored in the muscles through the process of Glycolysis. Here, glycogen is broken down into glucose or sugar and is converted into energy. Glycolysis occurs during anaerobic exercise in the muscle cells without the use of oxygen to produce energy.  Lactic acid is a side-product of Glycolysis that causes muscle fatigue. Anaerobic exercise will help your body tolerate and eliminate lactic acid more efficiently.

EXAMPLES OF ANABOLIC WORKOUTS: Most strength training workouts that include lifting of weights and exercises performed on machines are Anabolic workouts. Squats, Bench press, Deadlifts are such examples.

  • Benefits of Anabolic Exercise
  • Helps to manage lactic acid.
  • Builds and maintains muscle mass and boosts metabolism
  • Protects joints by enhancing muscle strength and muscle mass.
  • It improves bone density and bone strength.
  • Anaerobic exercise improves energy.
  • Anaerobic exercise increases strength, speed, and power.


  • Catabolism is the set of the metabolic process which breaks down big and complex molecules into smaller molecules to generate the energy necessary for various functions of the body. Catabolic processes involve breaking of large molecules into smaller molecules and release the energy in the form of energy- rich compounds such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The process supplies the energy for anabolic activity. It also provides the small molecules or building blocks required to create more complex molecules and the electrons.


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  • Stages of Catabolism

There are three stages of Catabolism

  • Stage 1: Digestion of the large organic molecules such as proteins, lipids, and polysaccharides into the smaller components with the help of digestive enzymes such as glycoside hydrolases. The large molecules cannot be absorbed by the cells. Hence, it needs to be broken into the smaller units before they can be used in cell metabolism. Pepsin is the primary enzyme involved in protein digestion. The pancreas secretes proenzymes of trypsin, chymotrypsin, and elastase which divide the proteins into amino acids, dipeptides, and tripeptides. These are absorbed by the intestinal mucosal cells and released into the blood stream. They again get absorbed by the tissues. Amino acids and sugars are pumped into the cells by transport proteins.
  • Stage 2: Release of energy. Once broken down the molecules are divided into smaller molecules (CoA) by cells which release the energy.
  • Stage 3 is oxidation of acetyl group (CoA) to water and carbon dioxide which releases the energy. It is stored by reducing the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.
  • Catabolic hormones are the hormones which are muscle wasting. Catabolic hormones are secreted when a body is under stress or prolonged illness. The balanced catabolic hormones are important for muscle growth and fat loss.
  • Adrenaline or epinephrine is secreted by adrenal gland. Adrenaline is a vital factor of the “fight or flight” response. It increases heart rate, opens up lung bronchioles and provides glucose for quick energy.
  • Cortisol or stress hormone is also secreted by adrenal gland. It is released during times of anxiety, nervousness, depression or prolonged discomfort. It enhances blood pressure, blood sugar level and suppresses the immunity.
  • Glucagon is secreted by the alpha cells in the pancreas which stimulates the breakdown of glycogen into glucose. Glycogen is stored in the liver. During the need of extra energy, glucagon stimulates the liver to catabolize glycogen, which enters the blood as glucose.
  • Cytokines are a small protein that regulates communication and interactions between cells. Cytokines are regularly produced and broken down in the human body. The amino acids are either reused or recycled. Interleukin and lymphokines are types of cytokines which are released during the body’s immune response to bacterial, viral or fungal invasion as well as injury.
  • Catabolic exercises are aerobic as it consume oxygen, and burn calories and fat. The oxygen usage is important in catabolism. Typical catabolic exercises include running, cycling, swimming, dancing or any physical activity performed at moderate intensity for brief period. Time is a crucial factor here because, after about 15-20 minutes, the body starts using fat to make up for the energy requirements of body. Hence, oxygen is needed for the catabolic exercise. Any exercise that involves the secretion of catabolic hormones will result in little to no accumulation of muscle mass and burning of calories.

EXAMPLES OF CATABOLIC WORKOUTS: Cardiovascular workouts are Catabolic in nature. This includes Running, Cycling, Swimming etc. It involves higher time duration compared to Anabolic workouts.

  • Benefits of Catabolic Exercise
  • It burns calories
  • Improves endurance
  • Reduces the risk of chronic ailments such as diabetes and heart ailments
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Improves bone density and bone strength (particularly weight-bearing activities like walking)
  • It reduces the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
  • Alleviates symptoms of depression
  • Reduces body fat
  • Reduces the inflammation and pain of arthritis
  • Increase HDL or good cholesterol and decreases triglycerides
  • Improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance


  • Conclusion: By combining catabolic and anabolic exercises regularly, you can maintain an ideal body weight as well as improve and sustain overall health.


  1. Author has crafted the article with so much detailing.
    Very Impressive.

  2. Good explanation. Do you see HIIT workouts as anabolic or catabolic?

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