How do you actually build endurance, though? | Nick Rana


How do you actually build endurance, though?  | Nick Rana

Whether you want to finally finish that 5k, train up for a half-marathon, or just make it through your next barre class without feeling like a puddle of mush after those first few reps, there's one aspect of fitness you'll want to focus on: building endurance.

Though you might associate endurance with running, biking, or swimming mile after mile, there are actually two types of endurance training.

Increasing your stamina benefits you long after you complete your last rep or final mile, too. In fact, maintaining endurance can boost your metabolism, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, according to research published in the journal Breath.

How do you actually build endurance, though? Put the following trainer-backed tips to work and you'll be long-hauling-it with ease in no time.

1. Focus Resistance Training On Time Under Tension

When resistance training with your body weight, resistance bands, or weights like dumbbells and kettlebells, shift your focus from pure strength (think less than eight reps per set with heavyweight) or muscle growth (eight to 12 reps with moderate weight) to muscle endurance (12-plus reps per set with lighter weight). This increases the amount of time your muscles spend under tension, which trains them to have greater endurance over time.

2. Add Cardio Bursts To Strength Workouts

To give strength workouts more of an endurance edge, Gabi Garbarino, CPT,  adding cardio bursts into the mix. “I love to incorporate jump squats, jump lunges, mountain-climbers, and pretty much any short cardio burst that involves spiking the heart rate,” she says. Not only does this train your cardiovascular endurance by keeping your heart pumping, but also demands that your muscles keep working between sets of other exercises, doing their stamina a solid, too.

Your move: Top off every second or third strength exercise with 30 seconds or 12 to 15 reps of a cardio-focused movement.

3. Incorporate Intervals

Though progressively increasing the duration of your cardio workouts can help you build endurance, another surefire way to make your inner engine more efficient is with intervals, suggests trainer Sandrine Cassis, CPT, For maximum results, incorporate challenging interval sessions two or three times a week. “You can play around with time, increasing your interval times to further push yourself,” Cassis says. To get started, alternate between 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for 20 to 30 minutes, she suggests. After a week or two, switch up your intervals and try 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest.

4. Pump Up The Jams

Sometimes, all that stands between you and a powerful sweat session is the perfect playlist. “Creating an environment you want to move in is the best way to encourage yourself to keep moving,”

Tinkering with your Spotify in the name of fitness is totally rooted in science, too. One Ergonomics study, for example, found that treadmill runners who increased the volume and tempo of their music ran faster than those who didn’t—without feeling like they worked any harder.

5. Prioritize Core Work

You know a stable, healthy core is a must for your fitness, but there's more to it than showing off a six-pack. A strong midsection actually comes in clutch during endurance workout efforts.

“When you're on the last mile of an endurance run, bike ride, or hike, a strong core can help prevent the body from wasting precious energy by providing a stable foundation against your repeated muscle contractions,” Crush your core sans equipment with this 20-minute workout:

6. Find Your Focus

It's easy to zone out or go through the motions during a workout (especially if you're going for a long run or churning out rep after rep after rep). However, connecting your body and mind is a *must* if you want to tap into (and improve!) your true endurance,

“Aligning the mind, body, and breath creates a heightened ability to push our physical and mental boundaries,” she shares. That's why she recommends doing the following scan before diving into your next endurance workout:

  • Get into a comfortable position (sit or lie down) and close your eyes.


  • Notice and acknowledge your thoughts without judgment. (Do you have any pre-workout jitters or dread?) 

  • Take three to five big breaths, exhaling sharply.


  • Scan your body from head to toe. (Feel your heart, lungs, and all of those muscles!) 

  • Visualize how you’ll move through your workout. How do you want to perform, physically and mentally?

7. Sweat With A Friend

If you had a study buddy to hold you accountable back in the day, why not apply the same strategy to your training? “Having the motivation and support of someone moving with you can inspire and challenge your mental and physical limits when it comes to your workouts,” 

Numerous studies show that working out with a friend can help you sustain your commitment to your activity, enjoy doing it more, and feel less stressed, all of which can help you reach your endurance goals in the long run.

 Bonus: Pick a pal whose fitness skills you admire, since research suggests that you work out for longer when sweating with someone who's a little fitter than you. Now, how's that for stamina!

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