Endurance training is not only good for your health, but can also help you in almost all sports. Whether football, tennis, climbing or martial arts, good stamina can make all the difference.
In this article we have summarized the basic information about endurance training for you. You will learn, among other things, what endurance is and what different types there are. In addition to that, we also have some tips and methods for you on how to optimize your endurance training.
the essentials in brief
- Endurance training mainly improves your stamina and allows your body to perform for a longer period of time before you get tired.
- When it comes to endurance training, you are very flexible. In terms of location, method, equipment or tools, you have a number of alternatives to choose from.
- There is a universal recipe for success. If you stick to the basics of a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and keep adjusting your training to your current level, you will continually improve.
Definition: What is endurance training?
Endurance training is understood to mean various forms of training and training programs with the aim of improving endurance. Endurance describes the body's ability to do something over a long period of time despite fatigue.(1)
The main aim of the training is to increase the performance of the lungs, heart and circulatory system. This not only promotes the development of good health, but also ensures that it is maintained.
Background: What you should know about endurance training
Before you start training, you should definitely consider a few things. It starts with what it is actually useful for you to train your endurance. In addition to this, we will also go into the types of endurance and how smoking can affect your training, among other things.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of endurance training?
Training your endurance primarily affects your athletic performance; so how much you are able to afford. At the same time, however, it can also have a positive effect on the health and general well-being of non-athletes.
In addition to the positive aspects, it is particularly important for sporty people to know that endurance training can also have negative effects.(2,3)
To give you a rough overview of the pros and cons of classic endurance training, we have summarized them in the following table:
|Improving fitness and coordination||insufficient for most sports (requires specific training)|
|Strengthening of the cardiovascular system||Loss of strength and muscle wasting|
|Active stress reduction||inefficient for the goal of losing body fat|
|Increased well-being and concentration||Risk factor for joint and muscular complaints|
If you want to improve your endurance primarily for a specific sport, classic endurance training alone will probably not be enough. Also, in terms of injury risk, excessive aerobic exercise can also be detrimental to your health.(4)
Pure endurance training in the classic sense usually doesn't challenge your muscles enough and can even lead to a breakdown in the long run. And if your muscles are underused, your body does not have to fall back on fat reserves to produce energy. That's why classic endurance training is not a good way to get rid of body fat.(5)
Important: The advantages and disadvantages mentioned relate primarily to classic endurance training in the area of basic endurance. With specific training or in combination with strength training, certain advantages or disadvantages cannot occur.
Endurance training at home vs. in the gym
Basically, you can train your endurance both at home and in the gym. While equipment such as a treadmill or cross trainer is available in the gym, you can also train at home without equipment.
You have many different options for this, which you can also implement very well as a beginner. Activities or exercises that are suitable for this are, for example:
- jump rope
- jumping jack
- Burpees (combination of squats, push-ups and straight jumps)
- Knee lift (running on the spot with knees raised to the hips)
- Anheels (run on the spot with heels lifted towards the buttocks)
- Step-Ups (Alternate steps up and down a rise)
- Climber (push-up with alternating movement of knees towards respective elbows)
If you train at home, you should make your training varied. The variety helps keep you motivated and also offers a greater challenge.
What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic endurance?
These two types differ in terms of how your body produces energy. While we understand aerobic energy generation with the help of oxygen, anaerobic describes energy generation without oxygen, i.e. when this alone is no longer sufficient.
Aerobic endurance, therefore, describes the length of time your body is able to burn nutrients using the oxygen you breathe. From the moment when the amount of oxygen is no longer sufficient, anaerobic endurance begins.
Especially during intense exertion, the oxygen you breathe in is no longer enough and your body has to produce the energy differently. (Image Source: Pexels / Ketut Subiyanto)
In anaerobic endurance, energy is obtained through lactic acid fermentation and lactate is produced. However, your muscles can only absorb a limited amount of this. Once this amount is reached, that muscle can no longer perform at full capacity and you become tired.(6)
What is basic endurance and what role does it play?
Whether it's skills or knowledge, if we want to improve in a certain area we first need a foundation. The basic endurance forms the basis for every endurance sport, since, for example, speed or strength endurance are built on it. It describes your ability to perform consistently over a longer period of time.
If you run out of air, you've exceeded your basic endurance level.
Crucially, however, basic endurance only includes the power your body derives from the oxygen you take in during your activity. That is why it is usually equated with aerobic endurance.
The basic endurance (GA) is also divided into the areas GA1 and GA2. While GA1 corresponds to the endurance ability as just described, in the GA2 range the oxygen absorbed during the activity is sometimes no longer sufficient. The GA2 range is thus at the threshold of aerobic and anaerobic endurance.(7)
What should you pay attention to when training endurance in children?
As with adults, endurance training strengthens the health of children. A good balance between stress and regeneration is even more important for children. This is because children lack the experience of how to manage their strength and therefore often need a breather more often.
Aerobic endurance training should be the focus.
Between the ages of 10 and 20, the body's capacity for maximum oxygen utilization is at its highest, making even aerobic endurance training easier. In contrast, children's muscles are not able to take up much lactate, which therefore tends to speak against training for anaerobic endurance.(8)
A helpful principle for training with children can be the use of their play instinct. Playful training combined with enough variety in the exercises is usually the key to success for children.
What role does nutrition play in endurance training?
While the right diet is almost indispensable for top athletes, it can also help you with your training. With a well-coordinated diet, you can positively influence both your performance and your health. (9)
Healthy eating is becoming increasingly popular. Whether classic, vegetarian or vegan; In principle, any diet is suitable for your endurance training. (Image Source: Pexels / Nathan Cowley)
When it comes to endurance training, your main goal should be to meet your energy needs. So you have to make sure that the body gets enough nutrients that it can convert into energy. Dietary supplements can also be a good help for a healthy diet. This allows you to take in the amount of vitamins or minerals you need in a controlled manner so that your body has enough energy.
A balanced diet supports you in your training, but cannot replace it.
Carbohydrates, for example, are a readily available source of energy and are therefore mainly needed for intensive exercise. If the intensity is lower and geared towards a longer period of time, your body will make more use of your fat reserves and burn them to generate energy.
If you do training sessions that last more than 60 minutes, it is also advantageous to drink carbohydrate-rich drinks.
In general, sufficient and well-distributed drinking is helpful so that you can perform optimally, avoid muscle cramps and maintain your concentration. (10)
What role does smoking or health problems play in connection with endurance training?
Both smoking and health conditions like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or asthma can affect your endurance training.
"If you suffer from a chronic illness or have circulatory or heart problems, it is better to consult a doctor before you start training."
It is well known that smoking is not good for your health. Among other things, it limits your physical performance and thus has a negative effect on the ability to train your endurance. This means that the effect of endurance training on smokers only occurs later or sometimes not at all. (10.11)
If you suffer from diseases such as COPD or asthma, you should be particularly careful with endurance training. If these are not too difficult, you should not let them stop you from training. Especially with asthma, endurance training can even lead to an improvement in the disease. This improvement is often reflected in a reduction in seizures and an increase in oxygen uptake.(12,13)
Training endurance: The best tips & methods for successful training
While many choose to jog/run for cardio training, cycling or swimming are equally good alternatives. But we have also selected a few tips for you for uncomplicated training at home.
As you now know, there are different approaches and methods to train your endurance. However, so that you are well prepared for everyone, we also have a few basic tips for you at the end.
Different methods for training endurance
Basically, you can distinguish between 4 different methods of endurance training, which differ mainly in terms of duration, intensity and the associated breaks:
- continuous method
- interval method
- repetition method
- competition method
If you only do sports in your free time, the first two methods are absolutely sufficient. For competitive athletes, on the other hand, the repetition and competition methods are particularly useful for training to retrieve their full performance.
The permanent method
With the continuous method, as the name suggests, you train over a longer period of time without a break. You should set the intensity yourself so that you can last at least 30 minutes, but preferably between 45 and 90 minutes.
Above all, the continuous method allows you to improve your aerobic endurance. In addition to this, continuously increasing the duration and intensity can bring you other benefits. These include better fat burning and better blood circulation in your arms and legs.(14)
The interval method
Compared to the continuous method, pauses are very important with this method. However, you should not give your body the opportunity to fully recover. The breaks between the individual units should only be long enough for you to trust yourself to be able to carry out the subsequent exercise again.
This method helps you to increase your endurance, your speed endurance and the lactate tolerance of your muscles. If the lactate tolerance of your muscles increases, they can absorb more lactate and you will tire less quickly.
Cycling is a great option for interval training. Maintain a high speed for a short time and reduce it to a minimum when you pause. (Image Source: Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio)
An intensity of between 60 and 80% is usually recommended for this method, i.e. so high that you still have reserves. However, there is also the so-called HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The intensity is increased again and the training effect is strengthened.
Depending on the intensity, you can not only improve your aerobic endurance with the interval method, but also raise the threshold to anaerobic endurance.(14)
With the repetition method, you train a few units, but with a very high intensity (90-100%). After these units, it is important to give your body a longer break so that it can fully recover.
This method also helps you for your aerobic, but especially for your anaerobic endurance. Because of the high intensity, the oxygen that you take in is usually no longer sufficient and your body has to get used to producing the energy differently. (15)
This method is mainly only suitable for competitive athletes and is not recommended for recreational athletes. The competition method involves a one-time load of the highest intensity. How long this one-off load lasts depends on the competition you are training for.
The competition method is used by competitive athletes not only to improve endurance, but above all to train their assertiveness.(16)
In the following table we have summarized the 4 methods mentioned again:
|continuous method||constant load for 30-90 minutes without a break - primarily improves maximum oxygen uptake|
|interval method||Training with breaks between exertion without fully recovering - increases endurance, speed endurance and lactate tolerance|
|repetition method||few stress phases but with very high intensity - increases the anaerobic endurance|
|competition method||a constant load phase at competition level - is mainly used by competitive athletes to simulate competition conditions and train their assertiveness|
Training endurance with vs. without equipment/aids
If you want to train with equipment, you should primarily stick to the treadmill or an exercise bike. Another alternative is a cross trainer, which is designed to cover a combination of running and climbing stairs.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to train your endurance effectively. Sometimes a simple skipping rope is enough. (Image Source: Pexels / Pavel Danilyuk & William Choquette)
However, if you want to save money or do without devices altogether, you have several options. You can either opt for classic jogging, try jumping rope or train your endurance with some exercises. We went into a little detail for you about jumping rope and two classic fitness exercises.
Jumping rope helps you improve both your endurance and your coordination. It is important that you warm up well beforehand by circling your arms and wrists.
Also make sure that the rope movement when jumping is coming from your wrists. When it comes to the rope itself, the right length is also important. If you stand in the middle of the rope, the ends should reach under your armpits.
Interval training is recommended for optimal endurance training by jumping rope. For example:
- 1 minute jump with 1 minute rest - 10x reps
- after a week: 2 minutes with 1-2 minutes rest - 10x repetitions
- then increase according to feeling
If you master the classic jump rope, you can expand your training even further. Whether jumping on one foot, crossover or other variations; you have almost infinite possibilities.
The jumping jack or "jumping jacks" are often underestimated. It is important that the exercise is done correctly. In addition to your endurance, you can also improve your strength endurance, mobility and coordination.
For the right execution you should consider the following things:
- upright posture and knees do not turn inwards
- Toes point forward
- try to land as silently as possible and cushion the jump
- Power for the arm movement should come from the shoulders
Start at a low intensity and focus on doing the exercise correctly. You can then increase this intensity over time.
Combining squats, push-ups, and jump jumps into one fluid motion is a popular fitness exercise. Above all, this combination ensures that almost all muscle groups in your body are used. With burpees you can not only train your endurance, but also strengthen your whole body.
If so many muscle groups are active, a relatively high intensity usually results from a low speed. So with burpees you are able to burn a lot of calories and get rid of excess fat.
Here's how you should approach burpees:
- Starting position: Squat with your hands on the floor in front of you
- Jump back with both feet and straighten your arms into a push-up position
- You then jump back to the starting position
- The exercise ends with a straight jump up and then you land back in the starting position
Since you are primarily concerned with endurance, you should repeat this sequence for a certain period of time. Try to do 30 seconds without a break to start with.
Training for beginners vs. training for advanced users
For optimal endurance training, it is very important to differentiate between beginners and advanced users. The main differences between the two groups are the objectives and the scope of the training:
|objective||Build basic endurance||set clearly defined goals that are challenging|
|training method||mainly continuous method||Combination of duration and interval method|
|training type||consistent to build a certain routine||varied, as the body eventually gets used to the routine|
|additional tips||Running, cycling and swimming are usually learned quickly and have a quick effect, especially at the beginning||Pulse control enables you to train more specifically (e.g. with a watch and/or chest strap)|
Depending on how far you are in your training, you can of course also try to implement certain tips for advanced users as a beginner. But make sure that you already have a certain basis for this.
Basics of endurance training
To train your endurance, there is no recipe that has the same effect on everyone. However, so that you can start your training well prepared, here are a few tips on the training process.
Frequency & duration of training
Your workout should last anywhere from 30-90 minutes, regardless of your level. Depending on your endurance level, you should primarily vary the intensity. Especially for advanced users, it is important to constantly adapt the training to your own level so that you can continue to make progress.
Try to keep a regular interval between training and rest.
Especially as a beginner, you should definitely make sure to plan enough breaks. Training 3 times a week is a good starting point. This allows you to take a day off between your workouts, giving your body enough time to recover.
time of training
Again, when it's best for you to train depends largely on you and your lifestyle. People with an average daily routine tend to feel most productive in the late morning and afternoon. If you feel the same way, that would be the best time to train.
It is also not recommended to exercise immediately after eating. Your body is then still too busy with digestion and cannot perform at full capacity. It is similar in the morning right after getting up or in the evening before going to bed. Your body isn't performing at its best at these times, meaning your training would be less effective.
The basis for good performance in sporting activities is a stable blood sugar level. A high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet is also beneficial for endurance training. This ensures that your body can produce enough energy and that digestion does not take too long.
It doesn't matter whether it's fruit, vegetables or supplements; you need vitamins every day. Vitamin C in particular ensures that you have enough energy. (Image Source: Pexels / Trang Doan)
You should also make sure that you are getting enough iron and magnesium in your diet. Iron ensures that your red blood cells work optimally and transport oxygen to your cells. Magnesium, on the other hand, is particularly important for your concentration because it is needed to supply your brain with energy.
“Unless it's absolutely necessary, you shouldn't eat anything right before a workout. If you do eat something, bananas are a great source of energy before training.”
It is also important that you drink enough. You should also drink during training, especially during longer training sessions. Carbohydrate-rich drinks are ideal for this. To distinguish these from drinks with unhealthy sugar, you should pay attention to the ingredients. Glucose, dextrose and maltodextrin are recommended, too much fructose should be avoided.
By training your endurance, you strengthen your body. Not only do you get tired less quickly, but you also have an ideal means of reducing stress and better concentration through physical activity. Training your endurance can take both your athletic and mental performance to a new level.
When it comes to endurance training, don't expect results the first time. As the name suggests, duration makes the effect. Regular training, combination and variety of different exercises as well as the additional knowledge that you now have will take you further.
- RF Schmidt and F. Lang (eds.): Human physiology. jumper. Heidelberg 2007. p. 939. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-32910-7 Source
- Kubukeli ZN, Noakes TD, Dennis SC. Training techniques to improve endurance exercise performances. Sports Med. 2002;32(8):489-509. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200232080-00002. PMID: 12076176. Source
- Ludyga S, Gerber M, Pühse U, Looser VN, Kamijjo K. Systematic review and meta-analysis investigating moderators of long-term effects of exercise on cognition in healthy individuals. Nat Hum Behav. 2020. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-0851-8 Source
- Morici G, Gruttad'Auria CI, Baiamonte P, Mazzuca E, Castrogiovanni A, & Bonsignore MR (2016). Endurance training: is it bad for you?. Breathe (Sheffield, England), 12(2), 140-147. DOI: 10.1183/20734735.007016 Source
- Gibala, MJ, Little JP, van Essen, M, Wilkin, GP, Burgomaster, KA, Safdar, A, Raha, S, Tarnopolsky, MA (2006). Short-term sprint interval versus traditional endurance training: similar initial adaptations in human skeletal muscle and exercise performance. The Journal of Physiology. 575(3), 901-911. DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2006.112094 Source
- Walther M, Reuter I, Leonhard T, Engelhard M (2005). The orthopedist. Injuries and overuse reactions in running. 34(5), pp. 399-404. DOI: 10.1007/s00132-005-0790-0 Source
- Patel H, Alkhawam H, Madanieh R, Shah N, Kosmas CE, & Vittorio TJ (2017). Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise training effects on the cardiovascular system. World journal of cardiology, 9(2), 134-138. Source
- Georg Neumann, Arndt Pfützner, Anneliese Berbalk. Optimized endurance training. Aachen: 1998. ISBN 3898996158.
- Rowland, T (2008). Cardiovascular Concerns in the Young Athlete. In H. Hebestreit & O. Bar‐Or, The Young Athlete. Blackwell Pub. DOI: 10.1002/9780470696255 Source
- Carlsohn, A. (2016). Current nutritional recommendations for endurance athletes. German journal for sports medicine, 2016(01), 7-12. doi: 10.5960/dzsm.2015.193. DOI: 10.4330/wjc.v9.i2.134 Source
- Kasper, H. (2014): Nutritional Medicine and Dietetics. Urban & Fischer Verlag Munich. 12th edition 2014 Raschka, C.; Ruf, S. (2018): Sport and Nutrition. Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart. 4th edition 2018
- Heitkamp HC., Wahler B., Schmid G., Jeschke D. (1985) Trainability of aerobic endurance in smokers and non-smokers. In: Franz IW., Mellerowicz H., Noack W. (eds) Training and Sport for Prevention and Rehabilitation in the Technicized Environment. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-70301-0_81 Source
- Holmen TL, Barrett-Connor E, Clausen J, Holmen J, Bjermer L (2002) Physical exercise, sports, and lung function in smoking versus nonsmoking adolescents. European Respiratory Journal, 1, 8-15, doi: 10.1183/09031936.02.00058502. Source
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009) Smoke Free Soccer, Coach Manual. Source
- Jöllenbeck, K. (2016). The effects of controlled, guided endurance training in asthma patients (Dr.). Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg i.Br. Source
- Sperlich, B., Hoppe, MW, & Haegele, M. (2013). Endurance training - continuous method versus intensive interval method in soccer. Dtsch Z Sportmed, 64, 10-17. Source
- Hanakam F, Ferrauti A (2020) Endurance training. In: Ferrauti A. (eds) Training Science for Sports Practice. Springer Spectrum, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-58227-5_7. Source
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American Dietetic Association (ADA), and Dietitians of Canada (DC) (2016): Nutrition and athletic performance. Joint position statement. Med Sci Spoorts Exerc 2016; 709-731. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000852 Source
- Brown, H.; Carlsohn, A.; Grosshauser, M.; et al (2019): Energy needs in sports. Position of the working group sports nutrition of the German Nutrition Society (DGE). Nutritional Review 66(8): 146-153. Source
- Berg, K. (2003). Endurance training and performance in runners. Sports Medicine, 33(1), 59-73. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200333010-00005. Source
- Jones, AM, & Carter, H (2000). The effect of endurance training on parameters of aerobic fitness. Sports medicine, 29(6), 373-386. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200029060-00001. Source