For many, exercise has transitioned from simply being a way to get in shape to becoming more of a hobby. With this, personal trainers are seeing more and more of the weekend warriors seeking out their services for ways to improve their fitness. One of the major areas people are looking to improve in is aerobic or endurance training.
Regardless of the sport, be it running, biking, swimming, obstacle course races, or a combination of these, it all takes aerobic capacity to get better and see improvements. So, which techniques do you use to increase their endurance?
Every person will be different and will have different goals. One person's goal may be to complete a 10k race, running the entire time. On the other hand, another person may want to improve their pace per mile on their marathon time. To help your clients meet a variety of goals, here are some of our favorite ways to help them improve their endurance.
One area that many runners or endurance athletes tend to lack is strength training. In order to perform longer and improve their aerobic abilities, clients are going to need to include strength training.
A great way to start them is with slower tempo strength training. That will increase the time for each movement to help build strength and increase their muscle endurance.
This doesn't mean your client has to strength train every day, but if they currently are not strength training at all this could mean adding it in 1-2 days per week.
As they start to build strength, they can work up to more days per week of strength training and they will likely see significant improvement in their endurance abilities.
Once your client has strength training down, start increasing the pace of those lifting sessions. As your client start to progress, reduce the time of the tempo on their strength training. Then you can even increase the number of reps they are completing.
Is your client ready for more? The next step after increasing the pace of your lifting sessions is to start to decrease the rest between sets. For example, if you start with 2-3 minutes of rest between each set, try to decrease that to 1 minute between sets or even down to 30 seconds.
Incorporate this not only in your strength sessions but also in your aerobic work. A great way to begin is run for 4 minutes, then walk for 4 minutes. Over time, increase the running time and decrease the walking time.
The best part of this is that it can be used with clients of all levels simply by adjusting the amount of time spent walking and running. For example, beginner clients may start by running for 30 seconds, walking for 4 minutes, and building from there.
Another great way to improve your endurance is by switching up the exercises. So, if you are training to run a marathon, don't be afraid to swap out running a few days a week for biking, rowing, or even swimming. All those activities will still give you the aerobic training that you need to develop for running. However, they will utilize different muscles, helping to increase your all-around endurance capacity.
Your body adapts to workouts after about two weeks. What that means is that if you are not progressing your workouts after about that two-week mark, you are not going to continue to see improvements.
A few ways you can do this in both strength training and aerobic training is by increasing the number of sets, decreasing the rest, and increasing the load.
With strength training, it may mean going up in weight, but it can also mean trying a different variation of the exercise. For example, if you do back squats one week, the next week you may try a front squat instead.
One of the key areas so many people are afraid of is steady state cardio. This is an area that if you are looking to increase your endurance can be very helpful to you.
Start with smaller time periods for multiple sets. Run 400 meters at a 5k pace, resting anywhere from 2-5 minutes in between. Then repeat that 4-5 times, and as you build on that each week you can add more sets or even decrease the rest. Work up to running for 45 minutes straight or even more depending on the goal.
As you build on the endurance training, it's also important to work on speed. By including plyometric exercises like box jumps, burpees, or jumping lunges, not only will you be able to improve your overall strength and endurance but also you'll find that you start to go faster. That speed during plyometric exercises will then improve your speed during running or biking. That happens because it increases your overall cardiovascular fitness.
Another great way to improve aerobic training is by combining strength and cardio training on the same day. So many people like to break them up to separate days, but there is a huge benefit to doing them on the same days. This doesn't have to be done every day but if your goal is to increase your endurance, 1-2 days a week combining those workouts is an excellent goal.
HIIT is great for your training routine and it is easy to include. Most people like to use a Tabata format for this, so 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for 8 sets, for 4 minutes total. You would complete all 8 sets of 1 exercise and then move onto the next exercise.
One area that can be even more important than the actual training but is often ignored is the recovery aspect. For your body to adapt, it needs the rest days to do so. Try to include 1-2 scheduled rest days a week. And with those rest days, also to be sure your body is getting the nutrition and sleep it needs to recover properly.
By following these tips, you and your clients will see your training improve quickly and get to your goals faster. If you want to learn more in-depth knowledge on each of these different areas, the Strength and Conditioning Certification is the perfect course to explore.