Whether you’re training for a race or are just looking to ramp up your running routine, endurance is a key ingredient. If you’ve been struggling to keep up with your desired pace, you might need to focus on improving your endurance levels. Here are some of the best ways to do just that.
Steadily Increase Your Pace
If you roll out of bed every morning to run 60 minutes at the same speed, or spend your lunch breaks from work riding your bike at the same RPM, you need to kick it up a notch. Sticking to the same pace day in and day out will only help you improve your endurance levels, up to a point.
Once your body adapts, any improvements are stalled. What you need to start focusing on is steadily increasing your pace. Don’t overdo it so suddenly; instead, just inch up your speed a little at a time, and you’ll quickly notice an improvement. At the very least, maintain an increased speed for short amounts of time throughout your workout, then bring it back down a bit in order to help you keep up and finish your workout in the allotted time.
Combine Cardio and Strength Training Days
Obviously, you need some amount of muscle on your body in order to keep up with your workout of choice. Whether you like to run, bike, or swim, your body isn’t going anywhere if you don’t have sufficient muscle mass on your body. If you think that weight training will do little to boost your endurance levels, think again.
It’s simple: the more muscle you can work, the more your cardiovascular system will be challenged, which is key to improving endurance levels. Only incorporating cardio into your workouts can actually work against building your endurance. Instead, combine weights and cardio on the same day. Do a couple of sets of squats and shoulder press followed by a quick mile run, for instance, to help pump up lean muscle mass while working on your cardio.
Throw HIIT Into the Mix
High-intensity interval training – or quick bouts of intense movements – can be really effective at boosting your endurance levels along with your traditional training methods. This type of training can help to improve your VO2 max and lactate threshold. Increasing your VO2 max – which is the maximum rate that your body is able to use up oxygen throughout exercise – can help your body take in more oxygen and send it to your muscles, allowing you to run at a faster pace.
Your lactate threshold can also be improved with HIIT, and is essentially the level of intensity that your muscles can work at whereby the concentration of lactate in your blood begins to increase. Basically, your lactate threshold is like an invisible barrier that causes your muscles to quit once they’ve worked up to a certain point.
Lactic acid build-up in the muscles leads to extreme fatigue and muscle soreness. The higher your lactate threshold is, the harder and longer you’ll be able to exercise. HIIT can help improve your lactate threshold, which in turn can help boost your endurance levels.
Regardless of what your sport of choice is, it can be easy to get into a rut and experience an endurance plateau. If that happens to you, it’s time to change things up a bit to kick your routine in gear. Give these tips a shot to take your endurance training to the next level.