Whether it be running, playing soccer, cycling, swimming or going to the gym, aerobic exercise requires endurance so athletes can keep performing at their best without losing their stamina. However, the answer may not be running longer, swimming farther, or cycling all day. Below we have laid out some of the more traditional ways to boost stamina along with some sneaky tips to keeping going stronger for longer.
Push it Real Good!
Having a good level of endurance allows athletes to work at a particular intensity for a longer period of time. There are a number of factors that need to be considered that combine to create an athlete's â€˜endurance profile'. Two of the most important, and most common, are the VO2 and lactate threshold.
The VO2 max refers to the maximum rate at which an athlete's body can take in oxygen during any exercise. It is the most popular measurement of aerobic capacity, despite it being unclear whether it's necessarily the most accurate. While endurance essentially comes down to genetics, the maximal oxygen uptake can be significantly improved with targeted training. High intensity interval training workouts - often referred to as HIIT â€“ have proven to work whilst increasing an athletes' VO2 max.
Furthermore, an athlete's lactate threshold is another element that makes up an athlete's endurance. This is also referred to as the level of exertion at which lactate accumulates in the muscles. The good news is that it is possible for any athlete to improve both of these measures. To improve an athlete's lactate threshold, they should experiment in tempo runs. Endurance athletes will typically have a higher proportion of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which power activities such as running by using oxygen efficiently to generate more energy. Running for longer periods of time can train slow-twitch muscles to fuel workouts more efficiently and to fight fatigue much more effectively. Furthermore, continually running long-distances can help change fast-twitch muscle fibers to slow-twitch muscle fibers, which will ultimately improve endurance.
A Sure-fire plan to Improve Your Endurance
Some ways to steadily increase your endurance are:
- Resting up. To go harder for longer, athletes need fresh muscles. The point here is to go hard on hard days, and easy on easy days. You should never string hard days together without having adequate rest in between those days. Feeling fresher can help you do that little bit extra and improve your endurance over time.
- Eating right. When it comes to exercise and nutrition, carbohydrates are essential as the body will use glycogen for fuel when the intensity increases. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, the body will try and get energy from other sources, and fat is usually the one to be burnt first. For any extended cardio sessions, be sure to eat 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour, depending on your weight. Furthermore, a mix of carbohydrates and protein enhances endurance performance while reducing muscle damage. However, you will need to keep in mind that the best mix of carbohydrates and proteins will vary from athlete to athlete. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
- HIIT it. What does this mean? High intensity interval training that's what! The old saying that less is more applies to this type of training. It often requires the athlete to perform quick bouts of exercise which can help improve endurance in conjunction with traditional training.
- Adding some strength. When it comes to endurance training, variation in exercises is important. Resistance training can strengthen your ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones, helping improve overall fitness and helping with that final burst to the finish line. Be sure to mix it up with kettle bells, dumbbells, and other pieces of gym equipment to help increase your stamina.
- Play some tunes. Could it be as easy as turning up the volume? Listening to music while training has been shown to boost endurance performance while walking, so it wouldn't hurt to bring your iPod along to your training session. The mind-connection is particularly strong among endurance athletes, and any pick-me-up can help when things start to get a little tough.