What is “endurance”? It can refer to how long you last in a workout before you max out or how many reps or sets your muscles can take before they can no longer contract. Perhaps endurance is more mental for you – how far can you go before you stop yourself? From the athlete to the novice exerciser, building endurance is always a goal. First, take a look at ways to incorporate endurance training into the workouts you’re already doing.
Combine cardio and strength. Unless you’re bodybuilding, “leg day” should not be part of your routine. Combine total body workouts with cardio and strength in a timely manner. By pushing yourself through a series of cardio and plyometric moves, you’re increasing your heart rate and shifting your energy system. The body has three fuel systems, and when you work harder, the body levels up to the next system. When you throw strength training on top of this, you’ll reap at least twice the amount of benefits. When doing cardio and strength together, the goal is not to go very heavy. Click here for more reasons why you should incorporate cardio and strength together.
Reduce rest in between sets. To boost your body’s ability to handle a demanding workload, you’ll have to push it into the arena before the heart rate drops. At the same time, you don’t want to go into the next set prematurely. Experienced trainers will tell you to rest long enough to catch your breath before you begin again. This means it will be different for each individual and probably different from day to day for you. Resting too long during breaks will actually work against you – making you do more work to return to the same aerobic level. Stay in the zone and listen to your body.
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The above practices will help you increase your endurance when applied to whatever workout you’re doing now. Perhaps you have fantastic cardiovascular endurance, but struggle with muscle weakness. To build muscle ability, you have to supercharge it with supersets. This means working the same group of muscles by utilizing at least two different exercises, flowing straight into the second one without rest.
- Posterior chain and hamstrings: Romanian deadlift and lying leg curl
- Upper body (shoulders): Push press with dumbbells and upright row
- Triceps: Bench dips and tricep kickbacks
- Upper back: Superman rows and bent over wide row
- Core: Russian twist and side planks with crunch
Aerobic/anaerobic interval training:
- Running: Run a slow 400-meter lap followed by a 400-meter sprint, repeat for two miles.
- Tabata: For four minutes, perform jumping lunges for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.
- Interval: One minute of mountain climbers, rest for 30 seconds; one minute of squat jacks, rest for 30 seconds, four rounds.
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By doing workouts like those, you are able to maintain a higher level of work despite taking breaks. When you complete an interval workout, your body adapts by being able to process the lactic acid more quickly (part of the energy systems’ process) and push off muscle fatigue. Boom. Instant endurance boost.
Make it compound. Just like supersets, using compound exercises instead of isolation movements will be more beneficial for an endurance goal. Some examples include a squat with a press, working the legs, core and shoulder; a burpee push up, working the cardio system, core and upper body; a kettlebell swing, working the quads, core and back.
Workouts should be planned ahead of time with goals in mind. Training smart and with a purpose is always better than sweating just for the heck of it!