Whenever my team and I meet a new visitor, we always ask, "What is your goal?" Quite often their goal is to increase endurance.
But endurance is a rather vague answer, so we try to clarify it. Do you want to be better at a sport? Are you training for a marathon? Basketball? Martial arts? Or do you want to simply to have more energy for daily activities? Their answers determine how their training programs will be designed.
In sports science, there are two main methods of measuring endurance. One is called "VO2 MAX" and the other is called "Lactate Threshold". Dont' worry, I will explain them simply.
Simply put, VO2 Max is how much oxygen you can take in to produce work. So it depends a lot on your muscles' ability to use oxygen efficiently, your cardiovascular system's ability to transport oxygen, your genetics, and how fat you are, because a pound of fat increases the amount of blood vessels in your body by one mile. That is a lot of extra work for your cardiovascular system.
If you reach your VO2 Max, you feel like you are "huffing and puffing" too much to keep on going.
Studies on VO2 Max show that people who have high VO2 Max readings tend to do well in all sports, obviously in endurance sports like cycling and triathlons, but even in strength and speed sports like weightlifting and ice hockey. The reason seems to be that they can recover better in between trainings and lifts.
Lactate Threshold is less well known but it is simply the point of work output where your body is not able to clear out lactic acid fast enough, such that it starts to accumulate, shutting down muscle contractions.
If you reach your lactate threshold, you feel like your muscles are "burning" and you can't keep on going.
As you can see these are two different problems, and require different solutions. Here are some training tips to improve these physical qualities so you can do better at your chosen activity.
To improve VO2 Max:
- Do interval training at longer distances with short rest, something like 2-4 minutes of work with short rest of 1 minute.
- Get rid of excess body fat. Cutting out refined carbohydrates is a great start for doing that.
- Know when it is enough. More VO2 Max is not much advantage if you have reached the levels required for your sport. Even without expensive lab tests, if you do your sport and don't often get out of breath, you probably have a good enough VO2 Max. Spend your training time on other things like strength or technical skills.
To improve lactate threshold:
- Do interval training with longer rest periods, so an example would be 2 minutes at high speed with 4 minutes at low speed. But make sure that your high speed work is really at a high speed to "overload" the lactate clearing system and make it better.
- Build up local muscle tolerance by doing strength training that puts the muscle under tension for a long period of time. For example, you may use "drop sets" where for example you exercise with 50kg and do 10 reps but can't do any more. So drop the weight to 40kg and continue, then once you can't do that anymore, drop to 30kg and keep on going for a total of perhaps 25 reps.
There we have it, go out there and add these ideas into your training to make your endurance better.
For the best fitness boot camp program, ExpressFIT program in the CBD, and personal training in Singapore visit www.genesisgym.com.sg or the Genesis Gym facebook page. Or visit Coach Jonathan's homepage and blog at www.coachjon.com