What Is Endurance?
Before getting into the nuts and bolts of this post, it’s important we first define what endurance is before understanding how we can maximize this vital and important trait. According to Wikipedia, endurance (synonymous with stamina) is the ability to remain active for long periods of time.
It’s what allows you to counteract tiredness and fatigue and gives you that ability to keep pushing forward, before you’re about to give up. Higher levels of strength and a better cardiovascular system usually translates into more endurance and the ability to strength train or run for longer.
Why Endurance Matters
Endurance is helpful for many reasons. See the list of benefits below:
- Better cardiovascular health.
- More efficient weight control.
- Stronger immunity to disease.
- Boosts mood and psychological health.
- Improved physical strength.
- Improved sleep.
- More day-to-day energy.
#1. HIIT TRAINING
One of my favorite ways for increase strength, stamina, and endurance is by focusing on HIIT training, or high intensity interval training. HIIT training allows you to perform workouts at your absolute highest intensity, followed by a short duration of rest. To see what a HIIT training workout might look like, click here.
HIIT training will help you improve both strength and endurance since your constantly pushing your body to its limits. Despite being shorter in duration than your typical workout, HIIT training can allow you to get more done, in a much shorter period of time. A HIIT training workout can typically be performed and completed within 20 to 30 minutes and can do wonders for helping you get in shape.
One thing you’ll probably notice most about HIIT training is the amount of stress it places on the cardiovascular system, as you find yourself trying to keep up your oxygen intake through out your workout. For those looking to increase their running time and duration, it’s highly recommended you focus on sprint-focused HIIT training workouts, which is also a great way to build those lower body muscles as well.
#2. PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD TRAINING
Progressive overload is the thing to be focusing on, if your primary objective is to increase overall muscle mass and strength. Progressive overload can be described as a gradual increase of stress placed on the body during any strength training routine.
Rather than simply trying to maintain muscle mass by lifting the same set of weights each week, progressive overload allows you to slightly increase the amount of weight being lifted, translating into an increase in strength overtime. This is a great way to increase both strength and endurance, as a result of the muscle mass being gained overtime.
One of my favorite progressive overload training schedules is this 5-week training program, by Muscle & Fitness. When performing any progressive overload workout, it’s important you always have a spotter with you, especially for those compound lifts as explained below.
#3. COMPOUND EXERCISES
The next thing you need to ensure an improvement in stamina, strength, and endurance is focusing on compound exercises. There is a fair variety of compound exercises that can be performed when it comes to both upper and lower body exercises.
You may have heard of these exercises before, but might not be aware of the fact that these are in-fact some of the most result-oriented exercises you can be focusing on. Exercises like squats, bench press, overhead press, and lunges are all considered to be compound exercises. This is in contrast to isolation exercises, such as the bicep curl, or tricep extension.
Which particular type of exercise do you think is most beneficial? Compound exercises tend to result in more muscle gained since each exercise focuses on using more than one body part or muscle. By placing the majority of your focus on these more difficult exercise (vs. easier isolation exercises), you can essentially improve your rate of progress when it comes to gaining both strength and endurance.
#4. EATING HEALTHY
This particular step cannot be underestimated, but you probably already know that, right! Eating healthy is at the heart of any well-established training program and will support you with the vital nutrients needed to make progress in your training routine. Not only is eating healthy important however, but it is also important to avoid foods that can make you unhealthy.
As with everything in life, it’s important to stick to moderation when choosing which foods to eat. According to Men’s Fitness, here are the foods you want to avoid before any endurance-related activity: avocados, milk, trail mix, pasta, soda, beer, and fried food. While these might sound obvious at first glance, it’s something we definitely need to remember.
Otherwise, that 7 mile run, might not go as well as we planned. Foods that you should eat before any long-run (according to Active.com), or as a way to instantly guarantee more endurance include: oatmeal, cherries, kale, bananas, chia seeds, walnuts, sweet potatoes, wild salmon, and whey protein.
#5. AEROBIC EXERCISES
Your next and best step for improving endurance, strength, and stamina should be in a pool, beach, lake, or anywhere there is water to swim in! It is the result of the water, providing your body with that much needed resistance, that ultimately improves strength and the ability to endure.
Instead of hitting the gym next time, consider swimming to be your next best option and fantastic alternative to consider. When you do go swimming make sure to take variables into consideration – e.g. changing pace, timing, and stroke can allow you to more efficiently improve your endurance.
Similar to progressive overload training, what you want to do here is gradually build on the time spent swimming each week, or however often you do it. If you swim for 20 minutes on week, try going for 22 minutes the next. According to WikiHow, it’s also important you work on varying your pace when swimming and working on more than just one stroke.
#6. LONG DISTANCE RUNNING
Any activity that requires you to work on something for a longer period of time can result in a wonderful boost in your level of endurance. Long distant running is a great example that allows you to find a pace that is appropriate for the duration of your run.
The more you engage in long distant running, the longer distances you’ll be able to complete overtime, a result of improving your cardiovascular health. Wikihow further recommends that you tack on 10% to the amount you run each week.
If you were to run 3 miles this week, next week you would run 3/10 extra of a mile and so forth the following week. You should also make sure that you are running slower, but for longer distances as a way to build and improve your stamina.
#7. INCORPORATE NEW ACTIVITIES
One of the best ways you can improve your endurance overall, is by taking part in new activities, that your body may or may not be very accustomed to. Activities like boxing, plyometrics that involve jumping, and other sports-related activities can all go a very long way in achieving that level of endurance you’ve always dreamed of.
Here are 70 of those activities that you can begin doing today. More importantly, always ensure that with whatever activity you are taking part in, to go at it slower and longer, or you can take the HIIT approach, in which you do the opposite, working for shorter, but with much harder bursts of energy.
Have any questions on how to improve endurance or stamina? Is there something you’ve done recently that allowed you to increase your endurance levels to an all-time high? I for one, know I would love to hear all about it. So please make sure to leave your comments and thoughts down below. Thanks!
Resources & Citations:
“Endurance.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 May 2017. Web. 29 May 2017.
WikiHow. “How to Increase Your Running Stamina.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 29 May 2017. Web. 29 May 2017.
WikiHow. “How to Build Your Stamina for Swimming.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 29 May 2017. Web. 29 May 2017.
“Top 10 Benefits of Endurance Training.” Lifehack. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2017.
Brager, Alana. “10 Superfoods for Endurance Athletes.” ACTIVE.com. N.p., 28 June 2016. Web. 29 May 2017.