What is anaerobic respiration?

  • Anaerobic respiration transfers energy from glucose to cells.

  • It occurs when oxygen is not present.

  • It transfers large amounts of energy quickly.

A case study video on how an athlete uses anaerobic respiration during exercise.

When does anaerobic respiration occur?

Imagine sprinting 100 metres. You need to transfer energy from glucose to your muscles very quickly. However your body cannot get oxygen to its muscles quickly enough for aerobic respiration to occur. This is why anaerobic respiration happens instead.

A model of glucose turning into lactic acid.

How does anaerobic respiration work?

In anaerobic respiration, glucose breaks down without oxygen. The chemical reaction transfers energy from glucose to the cell. Anaerobic respiration produces lactic acid, rather than carbon dioxide and water. Unfortunately this can lead to painful muscle cramps.