Endurance is a fundamental component to anybodies fitness regimen if you plan on performing activity for a sustained period of time.
Endurance is defined as ‘the length of time an individual can perform work of a given intensity’ (Bompa, 1999).
We are all too familiar with the burn that kicks in towards the end of a set, at the latter stages of a game or on the home straight of a race…that burn is fatigue! The longer you can stave off fatigue, the better your endurance. Many factors come into play when trying to develop endurance, including the speed of movement, the number of reps, the force exerted, the efficiency of the movement, and the psychology of breaking through those boundaries! To improve them, you have to incrementally increase the load and duration over time. However, to do this properly we have to consider endurance in its entirety i.e. there are two types of endurance, general and specific endurance.
General endurance is basically overall fitness, and is required when several muscle groups and physiological systems (central nervous system, neuromuscular and cardiorespiratory) are recruited for a movement or activity. One of the most common ways to develop general endurance is to simply jog. Conversely, specific endurance is needed for activities of a shorter duration or that are highly technically refined such as swimming, rowing or weight lifting (ever tipped off a bench because of poor technique…? I have!). Time off from the gym inevitably results in detraining; consequently when you sit down on the bench ready for your first set, the reps don’t come as freely as they once did. You might find that you can lift a similar weight, but the repetitions just aren’t there, you might fail at 50% of what you did before….the reason for this is diminished muscular endurance!
This is where willpower comes into play! Supercompensation, the process your body goes through to develop and improve relies on willpower….the principle of performing in a state of fatigue is what separates the best from the rest! To overcome fatigue you need to adapt e.g. add a new training demand and adapt to this…shock the body into changing! So if you previously performed compound exercises such as bench presses or lat pull downs…try dropping the weight and increasing the rep range to 12-15, or perform weighted press ups and pull ups e.g. hanging a weight plate from a belt to aid progression (Bompa, 1999)!
You can improve the muscular endurance of specific muscle groups such as the legs and chest by using bodyweight exercises such as press ups, sit ups, lunges, bounding and springing, planks and squats. The key to improving muscular endurance is to perform these exercises to failure, which will eventually extend the time to fatigue, increasing muscular endurance!
Role of Supplements
In order to help buffer the hydrogen ions and lactic acid that builds up towards the end of a training session, bringing you to a grinding halt, try introducing a Nitric Oxide supplement such as BSN NO-Xplode or MusclePharm Assault.
To maintain direct phosphocreatine energy levels and increase power, try a good quality creatine such as Optimum Health’s Ultimate Creatine Monohydrate.
(Kreider, Wilborb, Campbell et al. 2010)
Maintaining hydration and electrolyte balance is fundamental to endurance, therefore a very high quality, cost effective isotonic and hydration beverage is Science in Sport GO Electrolyte Sports Fuel.
Bompa, T, O, (1999). Periodization. Theory and Methodology of Training. 4th Ed. Strength Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
Kreider, R, B., Wilborb, C, D., Campbell, B., Almada, A, L., Collins, R., Cooke, M et al, (2010). ISSN exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition. 7: 1550-2783.