In this article, we’ll discuss endurance training, including a vast array of exercise options, techniques, and modifications you can explore. You’ll discover why it’s so important to engage in a full-body program and learn about the vast benefits that endurance training is specifically suited to provide.
Because we’ll be reviewing the finer points of specific exercises and discussing proper form, you’ll want to mark this section for easy reference, as you will return often to ensure your form is on point and that you’re getting the most out of the suggested exercises.
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Why Endurance Training?
Endurance training is one-fourth of a well-rounded workout program, which also includes resistance training, flexibility training, and balance work. Endurance training is a form of cardiovascular exercise, also known as “aerobics” or “cardio.” This type of exercise is designed to get your heart rate up and your blood circulating throughout your body.
To ensure you get the most out of your endurance-training sessions, you’ll want to get your heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To get an approximate determination of what that is, subtract your age from 220 then multiply it by .50 and .85, respectively; your maximum heart rate should fall somewhere between those two numbers.
How Much Do I Need?
According to the American Heart Association, healthy adults should be achieving a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, which breaks down to about 30 minutes five days a week or 22 minutes every day. If you’re industrious, you can aim for 75 minutes of very intense interval training per week.
But if you’re just embarking on your fitness journey and you’re not ready to do a dedicated 30-minute session of exercise, start by aiming to move around more than you have been. If you can spend a total of one hour a day, five days a week, just moving about and being active, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor when it comes to raising your fitness level.
When beginning any new program, being at the starting line can be daunting. It takes time, patience, and perseverance to move forward and make gains in any endeavour.
Start slowly by doing a few five-minute sessions throughout the day or by adding a few minutes to your endurance workout every time you do it. Remember, every step you take is a step closer to a healthier, fitter version of you.
If you’re recovering from an illness or dealing with health concerns such as a stroke or a cardiac event, you don’t need to rule out this type of training. In fact, it will likely be beneficial in helping you avoid future issues, but you should proceed only when your physician deems it appropriate.
If you are part of a supervised rehabilitation program, you may be encouraged to participate in endurance-training types of exercises. Typically, you’ll start very slowly, possibly adding only steps a day, until you work your way up to more vigorous exercise.
Endurance training can be mild, moderate, or vigorous depending on how fast you move, the level of resistance involved, and the length of time you work out.
There are several ways you can do endurance training and several ways to determine how hard you’re working. You can measure your heart rate and plug it into a target heart rate calculator.
However, the easiest way to tell if you’re working hard enough is to check your breathing. If you’re slightly out of breath but can still hold a conversation, you’re in the perfect zone for endurance exercise.
Walking is one of the most basic movements, and it’s a wonderful way to get started on a solid endurance-training program. But don’t let the innocence of a simple walk fool you. Walking can be as challenging as you make it by changing your pace and the terrain.
Walking is gentler on the body, joints, tendons, and ligaments than running, making it a great form of low-impact exercise. It’s an ideal way to recover if you’ve been battling injuries and it’s something you can start slowly, building your way up to longer, more vigorous walks.
- Begin by walking at a comfortable, easy pace to adjust your body to the movement. Once you are adjusted and ready to pick up the pace, start by speeding up your walk until you’re walking about 3.5 to 4.0 miles per hour.
- From there, you can bump up your speed to a “speed walking” or “power walking” level, which is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 miles per hour.
Safety Pointers: If you’re walking outdoors, practice safe walking by staying in well-lit areas, wearing reflective clothing, walking with others, being mindful of traffic, and wearing sunscreen and the appropriate clothing for the weather. If walking regularly, consider investing in a good pair of walking shoes.
Jogging and Running
Jogging and running are both tremendous when it comes to boosting your endurance.
There are many different types of jogging and running doable both indoors and outdoors. If you want a treadmill experience comparable to running outdoors, set the treadmill at a 1 percent incline to simulate the ground’s rougher terrain. If you prefer the outdoors, try running on a track or a trail to ramp up the intensity of your workout.
Muscle Groups: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, calves), hips and glutes, arms and core.
- Start with a sufficient warm-up. Walk for at least five minutes before setting out, because running can put significant force on your bones, tendons, and ligaments.
- Your posture should be upright and your arms should swing in a natural, relaxed manner close to your sides. Place one foot in front of the other as you propel yourself off your back foot. You want your foot to land approximately under your body’s centre as you run.
- Try to land mid-foot as you run (some people land on their toes, putting undue pressure on the calves, or their heels, which may indicate too long a stride).
- Start off slow and work your way up to longer and longer sessions. Stretch thoroughly after every run! (Check out this page for stretching suggestions.)
Safety Pointers: Having the right kind of shoes is even more important when jogging or running. Consider asking a specialty shoe store salesperson to help you choose the best type of running shoe.
Swimming is another fantastic way to get in an endurance workout. If you’re just starting out, consider taking some lessons at a gym, community centre, or fitness centre if your budget allows it. This is the safest way to build up your skills and perfect your strokes.
Muscle Groups: Full body (arms, legs, back, chest, and core)
- Start by getting comfortable in the shallow end of the pool. Allow your entire body to get wet. Blow bubbles underwater and then stand up and breathe. Repeat this as you move into deeper and deeper water to help build confidence.
- Move on to floating. Hold your breath, lean backward so your feet come up off the ground of the pool, and allow yourself to float. Next, try the same exercise facedown.
- After you’ve mastered this, try using a kickboard. Practice your leg movements by holding onto the board while you scissor kick underwater to move forward.
- Once you’re comfortable with the basics, start swimming for exercise, also known as “doing laps” using strokes like the freestyle (or crawl), breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, and butterfly. Pick one or more that you enjoy and try to make it the full length of the pool without stopping.
- Each session, aim for longer swims without rest. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to go farther without stopping.
Safety Pointers: Swim with another adult or a lifeguard on duty. Avoid swimming after a large meal, as cramping may occur, after drinking alcohol, or if taking medications that may impair your judgment and motor skills.
Outdoor Biking and Indoor Cycling
This is a versatile form of endurance exercise that can be done indoors or outside, with others or solo. You can ride a mountain bike or road bike outside, cycle at home on an indoor trainer, or take an indoor cycling class.
If you’re new, you may want to start with a cycling class where an instructor will guide you through a workout that includes various intensities and speeds in a group format with motivating music.
Aim for about 30 minutes of pedalling to start, working up to an hour-long class or bike ride. Always start with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up. Pedal easily until your heart rate increases and your muscles loosen, and be sure to stretch after every ride.
Muscle Groups: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, calves), hips and glutes, core, back, and arms (for stabilization)
- Adjust the height of your seat so that when your leg is extended with your foot on the pedal, your knee has a slight bend to it.
- The handlebars should be easy to reach. If you’re bending uncomfortably at the waist or feel as though you’re straining to reach the handlebars, move your seat forward.
- If applicable, test out the brakes and make sure you know how to use them.
- If your bicycle has gears, start on a low setting and practice switching between gears as you pedal.
Safety Pointers: Wear clothing that will not get trapped in the spinning wheel as you ride. If you’re riding outdoors, always be aware of your surroundings. Ride with traffic (not against it) and watch for vehicles.
Elliptical machines are easy on the joints and fun to use. The smooth, impact-free range of motion allows you to always keep your feet on the pedals, which is comfortable for those suffering from injuries or rehabilitating from surgery.
Although the gentle movement may seem easy, you can make your workout more challenging by adjusting the intensity (how fast the pedals are moving), incline (how steep the pedals are), or resistance (how difficult it is to push down the pedal). Most machines are equipped with automatic interval programming, or you can adjust the settings manually to boost your workout difficulty and intensity.
Muscle Groups: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, calves), hips and glutes, upper body (some machines will have moving handles that will work your upper body as well)
- Step up onto the machine and choose your numbered level. Often, there will be a “Quick Start” button you can use.
- Start with a gentle 5-minute warm-up to loosen your muscles and get your circulation going before picking up the intensity of your workout.
- Once you are acclimated to the machine, make your workout more challenging by adjusting the intensity, incline, or resistance level.
Safety Pointers: Wear clothing that won’t get caught in the gears on the machine. Always keep your hands loosely on the handles to maintain your balance.
Rowing is an endurance exercise that will raise your heart rate and keep it there. Although it’s an excellent cardiovascular workout choice, it can also be an intensive workout and may not be the best starter choice for beginners.
When using a rowing machine, it may take you a while before you can add any resistance at all to your workout. It will take time to build up your stamina on the rower, but that’s the name of the game with endurance training!
Muscle Groups: Legs, glutes, back, arms, shoulders, and core.
- Rowing is broken into four basic movements: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery.
- During the catch, your legs should be completely bent as you stretch out your arms and grasp the handle.
- The drive should be mostly powered by your legs as you push backwards and the seat slides with you.
- The finish lets you use your arms, back, and core to finishing propelling yourself backwards.
- On the recovery, allow your muscles to relax for a moment as you slide the seat forward again to repeat the sequence.
Safety Pointers: Remember to warm up and cool down properly, as a rowing workout is very intense. Take it easy until you get the movements down, as proper form is important.
Stair Climbers and Steppers
Stair climbers and steppers are similar to elliptical machines, but somewhat more difficult to master until you get the hang of them. A stair climber has pedals that you “climb” as if standing while pedalling a bike; a stepper (otherwise known as a stepmill) has steps that move much like an escalator as you walk up.
Muscle Groups: Legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs, calves) hips and glutes
- Step up onto the machine and place each hand comfortably onto the handles.
- Stepping movement while maintaining a straight, upright posture and resting your hands lightly on the handles. If you find that you’re gripping the handles tightly or using them as leverage to pull yourself up, lower your resistance or incline level.
- When you feel comfortable, increase the speed slowly in short increments until you’re out of breath but still able to hold a conversation.
Safety Pointers: If you’re a beginner or haven’t used a stepper often, avoid TV, books, or visual forms of entertainment until you’ve familiarized yourself with the equipment and are able to perform the exercise with ease. Be careful when increasing your speed to avoid falling or sustaining a serious injury.
Group classes are an exhilarating way to enhance your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance. Most routines are low-impact and involve stepping up and down on an elevated platform as you follow the instructor’s lead, moving your body to the music with dance-like movements that target both legs and arms. You can also enjoy more rigorous boot camp–style classes and martial arts classes such as kickboxing.
Muscle Groups: Full body, depending on the class
- Always be early! Many classes incorporate some equipment, so you’ll want extra time to choose the right equipment and pick a spot where you can clearly see the instructor.
- Look to your instructor for assistance if you’re having trouble or are uncertain of how to perform a specific movement. Your instructor will also be able to help you modify certain exercises to suit your fitness level or accommodate an injury. Always notify the instructor before the class begins if you have any such issues.
- Don’t be afraid to slow down, take breaks, or do a modified version of any exercise. Although you should listen to your instructor, listening to your body first is more important.
- If the class seems too challenging, don’t get discouraged. It usually takes three sessions of a class to get accustomed. If after three classes you’re still frustrated, feel free to move on to something else.
Safety Pointers: Make sure there’s enough space between you and your classmates to execute the movements safely. Ensure your water bottle is full before class starts—while there will be breaks between exercises, they’re often brief, and staying hydrated is crucial.
Do You Have to Take Supplements with Endurance Training?
Endurance training boosts fat loss by enhancing both the afterburn after exercise and increasing muscle size, thus increasing resting metabolism.
When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects. Some people might also use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite.
Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.
While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.
Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.
In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.