Best Exercises for Improving Endurance

By definition, endurance is your body’s ability to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time. When we think of endurance, the first thing that may come to mind is people who are able to run for long periods of time such as a marathon runner. However, endurance can play a huge role in resistance training as well. Simply put, the more endurance we have, the longer and more intense we are able to train, which leads to reaching our goals more efficiently.

Here three techniques for improving your endurance, no matter what your goal may be:

High Rep Resistance Training:  Whether you are a runner, athlete, or avid weight lifter, if you want to improve your overall endurance you need to first train your muscles to sustain long periods of activity. You can be in great cardiovascular shape, but if your muscles break down too soon you will never be able to complete that long run you desire; the same applies for a weight lifter looking to gain strength. Getting stronger requires lifting heavy weights. The problem is most people only lift 75 to 80 percent of what they really can do because their muscles fatigue too quickly. To improve muscular endurance, perform high reps of exercises such as 15-20, focusing on compound moves that work multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Circuit Training:  Circuit training is a great way to improve your endurance without spending extended periods of time exercising. Circuit training programs consist of exercises performed with little to no rest. The result is an efficient workout while maintaining a high heart rate. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, research has shown that circuit training is just as beneficial as traditional forms of cardio activities and has actually resulted in a higher post exercise metabolic rate.

High Intensity Interval Training/Cross Training: Whatever your activity, at some point your body will become adapt and stop getting stronger. To counter this adaptation, use interval training methods in which you alternate between a low intensity activity such as jogging with a high intensity activity such as sprinting. Cross Training methods are great as well in which you participate in activities that differ from your normal training methods such as group fitness classes or combining a resistance training exercise with a cardiovascular exercise.

Bridging: Lie on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor in line with your hips. As you inhale, lengthen your lower back toward the floor and press into your heels. As you exhale, peel your spine away from the floor slowly, aiming to create a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Take a full breath here. On your next exhale, try to return to the mat one vertebrae at a time, starting with your upper back and finishing with your hips and tailbone.

Double leg stretch: Start lying on your back on the floor. Bring your knees to tabletop (shins parallel to the floor). Imagine drawing your belly button in to meet your spine (you should feel the muscles between your hip bones engage). Lift your chest and reach your arms to the outside of your legs. As you inhale, open your legs and arms away from each other. (Hint: reaching toward the ceiling will be easier than extending at hip/shoulder level.) The goal is to stabilize the torso while moving the limbs. Finish by circling the arms to return to start position.

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