The body is an incredible tool that will allow you to do almost anything if trained properly. Building endurance is a process that takes time and offers great rewards: being able to climb a mountain, complete a marathon, or set a new record in a 5k race! There are two types of endurance: cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance. In this lesson, you will earn about each and the framework for building workouts to increase your endurance.
Cardiovascular endurance improves the body’s ability to workout longer or more intensely. It is primarily focused upon improving the efficiency of the heart and oxygen delivery system—hence the name cardiovascular. Activities that cause the heart rate to rise and remain elevated for an extended period of time will improve this type of endurance.
Muscular endurance is the ability of your body’s muscles to endure aerobic exercises for long periods of time. The primary focus within muscular endurance is conditioning the muscles (not the heart) to endure fatigue. Muscular endurance allows muscles to perform for longer periods of time.
The Science behind Building Endurance
The SAID principle is an acronym that stands for Specific Adaptations from Imposed Demands. Essentially, this principle states that any time you place a demand upon your body, the body responds by changing itself to accommodate that demand. The body becomes more efficient at meeting the demands of endurance by:
• increasing stroke volume of the heart. This means that the heart has the ability to pump more blood through the body’s arterial system per minute, leading to better oxygen delivery.
• increasing the lactate threshold, so the body can workout longer and harder before the onset of lactic acid within the muscles.
• creating more blood cells to deliver oxygen to the working muscles.
How to Train for Endurance
Expect to spend about 12 weeks training in order to see improvements in your endurance levels. The most important factor in endurance training is time: your workouts will need to be at least 20 minutes in length and will need to become progressively more challenging in length and intensity as you progress every week. You can use this basic framework to build your endurance training plan. Use each week of the plan as an outline:
Weeks 1-3, the focus will be to build a foundation of endurance: plan on 20 minutes of cardio, three days per week. Here’s an example of what that could look like:
Monday—20-minute run (or any type of cardio)
Weeks 4-8, increase cardio sessions to 35 minutes, three days per week, and add in one strength-training day per week at the gym, for improving muscular endurance. Focus on the moderate- to high-repetition range (12-20 repetitions) for lifting. For help with designing the strength-training day, check out the next lesson. Here is an example of what Weeks 4-8 could look like:
Monday—35-minute run (or any type of cardio)
Wednesday—strength-training day at the gym, one hour
• Six different lifts
• Three sets per lift
• 15 repetitions per set
Weeks 9-12, increase cardio sessions to 45 minutes, three days per week, and continue with one strength-training day per week at the gym
The body adjusts to the demands placed upon it by sending signals to the body to make internal physiological changes that allow the body to build endurance. To apply these principles, you can increase your overall time spent engaging in cardiovascular exercises and lift weights in the mid- to high-repetition range. Expect to spend about 12 weeks training to increase your endurance. In the next lesson, you will learn how to build strength.
Cheers to your health,
Need some motivation? Check out this video about the Race Across America.
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