For most of us, any exercise is good exercise. Yet, if you’re trying to accomplish a specific goal – such as increased muscle mass, weight loss, or improved cardiovascular health – there are certain things you can incorporate into your exercise routine to better accomplish that goal.
Building endurance is one of those common goals. It could be you’re training to run a marathon, or it could be that you’re getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. If endurance is your goal, there are some specific things you can do to get there:
1. Follow a principle of rest and recover.
Your training plan should include rest days where you take some time off both physically as well as mentally.
2. Build recovery into your training.
You can use a number of methods to incorporate recovery principles into your normal training regimen. Use massagers or biofoam rollers to ease the sore, stiff muscles after a workout. Identify activities that let you recover and that are completely disassociated from your training – such as spending time with family and friends, reading, or watching movies. This will help to reduce tension and increase your overall calmness and positive mood.
3. Get plenty of sleep.
You need sleep both for psychological well-being and for physical repair and growth. If you’re training for endurance, you should shoot for between 8 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re sleep deprived, your cardiovascular performance can be reduced by up to 20%. It also reduces your reaction time, your ability to process information, and can negatively impact your emotional stability.
4. Pay attention to post-exercise nutrition.
When you’re training for endurance, you need to restore your body’s stores of muscle and liver glycogen. You need to rehydrate, and repair muscle tissue. Your muscles are most receptive to fuel about 20 to 30 minutes after you’re done exercising. Combine both carbs and protein, with a ratio of
Consume a minimum of 24 ounces of water per pound of body weight you lose during your exercise regimen, and get it within 6 hours. Losing just two percent of your body water will dramatically impact your endurance.
5. Warm up and cool down.
This should be part of every exercise regimen, but it’s often neglected. Your warmup should elevate your heart rate, increase blood flow to connective tissues and muscles, and help to decrease stiffness in the joints and muscles. It will also improve your range of motion. Warm up for at least 5 to 15 minutes. Cool-down should include low-intensity exercise such as light jogging, cycling, or even aquatic training. Cooldown helps to clear lactic acid and will help to reduce muscle soreness as well.
6. Include some strength training, too.
Strength training is important to your overall endurance training. It helps your bones stay healthy, and it helps you resist a number of injuries. It will also help to boost your lactate tolerance, which can also then help with delaying muscle fatigue. Strength training is the perfect complement to endurance training.
7. Keep training volume increases to 10% or less.
If you really want to build endurance, you need to focus on slow growth. If you’re training for a marathon and your current program asks you to train 10 hours one week, you shouldn’t train more than 11 hours the next week.
8. Train to the event.
If you’re training for endurance because you want to participate in a triathlon, you’ve really got a different purpose than if you’re trying to train to hike across the Rocky Mountains. Adjust your training volume to the specific work load for which you’re training. The duration and frequency of training should be adjusted based on the event you’re working toward.
Endurance training offers a number of benefits to health and wellness. In addition, it can allow you to achieve certain fitness goals (such as greater cardiovascular health) or certain life goals (such as running a marathon). Apply these tips to your endurance training and you’ll find you’re making the most efficient and effective use of your time possible.
– Dorothy Wheaton, PA-C, is the lead clinical provider for Careworks Health Clinics, an organization that offers multiple urgent care centers and walk-in healthcare clinics in the Northeast United States.