How to (Really) Build Endurance - Muscle & Performance

How to (Really) Build Endurance

To extend your body’s ability to perform work over time, you have to understand the factors at play.

Endurance is your ability to exert force over time. Endurance training is important because it develops your slow-twitch muscle fibers and it increases the circulation of blood to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. In other words, this kind of training is important for fully developing your muscles. In addition, it’s very functional. It’s one thing to look like you work out but it’s kind of wasted if you cannot climb a flight of stairs without resting. This includes everything from doing more than one repetition a set, to something like doing pull-ups for reps, to running sprints without dying, to running a marathon.

Still, most people confuse endurance with running a marathon or some other long-distance cardiovascular activity. While that’s an aspect, there are other approaches to training for endurance. There’s something that will appeal to just about everyone. What follows are a few different ways to train for endurance and a sample program to help you incorporate them into your routine.

Long Slow Distance

Long-slow-distance (LSD) training is what everyone thinks of when they think of endurance. It involves moving at slower speeds but doing it for long periods of time. This is a great way to develop endurance and burns calories. But, it also improves your ability to move at slow speeds. So, if you want endurance this is a great way to achieve it, but if you want speed then you need to find another approach.

Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to build speed and increase fat burning but it’s also a great way to develop endurance. This is used with all the modes of cardiovascular exercise. It is also a lot more interesting than LSD, which can become boring quickly. With interval training you perform cardio at near maximal intensity for a very limited time (10-60 seconds), but you repeat it frequently. Usually you train at a 1:1-5 work-rest ratio. In other words for every second you train intensely you sharply cut back the intensity for one to five seconds. For example, you might cycle for 20 seconds at maximal intensity, cycle at 100 seconds at an easy pace, and repeat 10 to 20 times.

Metabolic Conditioning

This is very similar to interval training but uses strength-training implements like kettlebells, heavy ropes, suspension training, bodyweight work and even sprinting. This is how athletes get into shape for their sports. For athletes, it is determined precisely by the length of plays and the rest periods in their sports. For most of the rest of us, the best bet is to perform intense work for 15-90 seconds, employing a 1:1-3 work-rest ratio. For example, you could perform kettlebell swings for 60 seconds followed by 60 seconds of rest, repeated 10 to 20 times.

Strength Endurance

This involves performing strength training with reduced weights, but focusing on performing more repetitions each set. This means less than 70 percent of maximum but at least 12 reps per set, normally with only 30 seconds of rest between each set. It develops endurance, burns calories (this is a faster way to train), but it also helps to develop your ligaments and tendons.

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