How you build workout endurance will depend on whether you are aiming for an ultra-marathon or trying to improve muscular endurance in the gym. While there is some crossover, a few tips will be specific to aerobic and non-aerobic exercise. Read on for some actionable advice to slowly and safely build workout endurance.
What is Endurance?
Endurance helps athletes run/cycle/swim for longer or do more reps with heavier weights. Cardiovascular endurance involves training the heart, lungs, and circulatory system to cope with longer workouts; it’s something anyone training for a marathon does as part of their program. Muscular endurance trains your muscles to lift heavier weights, or cope with the demands of weight-bearing exercise, such as rock climbing.
Intervals and Tempo Sessions
Intervals are a great tool for aerobic endurance. You’re teaching your body to cope with a higher level of discomfort, but only for short durations, so it is manageable. Start with adding in some short sprints, such as 4 x 2 mins with 2-minute recoveries. As it begins to feel easier, you can do more intervals or increase the duration of your speed intervals, such as 8 x 3 minutes with a 2-minute recovery between each set.
Tempo runs are great for building up speed endurance as they teach your body to cope with running faster for longer. Begin with an easy pace warm-up run then run 2-3 km at a harder pace, i.e., your 10k pace, followed by a cool-down run.
Intervals and tempo sessions can be incorporated into cycling and swim training. If you are cycling outdoors, use hills as your intervals: cycle hard up a hill and then spin back down as your recovery. Otherwise, plan an interval session on an indoor bike trainer.
High Rep/Low-Intensity Sessions
A good way to build endurance when lifting weights is to lift lighter weights but do more repetitions. This helps build more muscle endurance than, say, lifting heavier weights. The endurance you build in these sessions will help your aerobic workouts too.
Whether you are running intervals on the track or lifting weights in the gym, another useful way to increase endurance is by reducing your recovery time between intervals. When you shorten the recovery time, you are forcing your muscles to work under duress, i.e., when tired. It trains the body to be more comfortable working when tired, which is useful for endurance athletes.
Using a running workout as an example of how this works, instead of taking 2-minute recoveries between intervals, do 90-second recoveries instead. If lifting weights, begin the next set before you have fully recovered from the last one. It’ll feel hard, but you will benefit in the long term.
Shake It Up
It’s okay to have a workout routine, but if you do the same things day in and day out, you won’t see much improvement. The best way to build endurance is to mix up your routine. For example, if your primary sport is running, don’t go out and run the same distance at the same pace every week. You will plateau very quickly. Instead, break up your weekly training schedule into different sessions: do intervals, tempo runs, a long run, and easy runs. If you prefer being in the gym, add some classes into your routine, such as boxing or circuits.
There are some great workout supplements out there, many of which can help boost endurance. A good example is Turkesterone, which as noted here, can help bodybuilders see significant gains in muscular endurance.
Finally, simple tricks like getting more sleep and eating a healthier diet will pay dividends.