The 4 Types of Endurance & The 6 Benefits of Endurance Training
You should train for all 4 types of endurance. Here are 6 reasons why.
Everyone has their own unique fitness goals.
Maybe you’re training for your first half marathon.
Or you want to pack on as much muscle as possible.
Or you want to be able to play with your kids without tiring out and feeling sore the next day.
Or you want to improve your performance in your sport and be able to continue playing into old age.
Regardless of your unique goals, everyone wants to be able to maintain high energy levels throughout the day.
Not only that, but you want to be able to handle the events that everyday life throws at you without getting wiped out.
Whether that be sprinting to catch a bus or to get to your airplane gate, moving furniture or holding a shelf up as it gets installed, hiking with a friend, maintaining good posture while you’re sitting or standing, or any other of the never-ending challenges and events we face throughout our lives.
And, of course, no one is going to turn down adding a few extra years to their life which endurance training has the potential to achieve.
(The best predictor of lifespan is actually VO2 Max.)
Hopefully, I’m starting to convince you that endurance training is critically important to your longevity and not just for athletes.
Building a strong endurance foundation will improve your day-to-day energy levels, allow you to engage fully with life’s activities and challenges, lift the restrictions that start to impede you with age, and maybe even tack a few extra years onto your life.
If you keep reading, here’s what you can expect to learn:
What is endurance? The 4 types of endurance.
Why train for endurance? The 6 benefits of training for endurance.
How can I train for endurance? The 4 endurance training protocols (to keep this short and digestible, we’ll cover these protocols next week).
What is endurance?
The four types of endurance might look familiar to you by now.
Here’s a quick summary before diving deeper:
Muscular Endurance: Ability of a particular muscle to perform a certain movement for high reps or a long duration of time.
Maximum Anaerobic Capacity: Max output over 30-90 seconds.
Maximum Aerobic Capacity: Max output over 5-15 minutes.
Long Duration Aerobic Endurance: Consistent output over 20+ minutes.
These are 4 of the 9 types of exercise adaptations.
In the Longevity Combine series, we covered practical tests to assess and improve each of these types of fitness.
If you want to test your current fitness for each of these types of endurance, you can find the muscular endurance test here, and aerobic and anaerobic endurance tests here.
So, what do each of these mean?
Muscular endurance is typically measured by how many reps you can do of a particular movement.
It is a test of endurance localized to a particular muscle.
For example, if you were to do your max amount of push-ups what would be the limiting factor? What would make you stop?
Probably not your cardiovascular endurance.
You wouldn’t get so out of breath that you can’t do one more push-up.
But the burn or fatigue in the muscle (triceps or chest in the case of push-ups) would eventually become too much to handle at which point you could not do one more rep.
Increasing the amount of work a muscle can take before fatiguing is our goal while training for muscular endurance.
Maximum Anaerobic Capacity
Max anaerobic capacity is the total amount of work you can perform over a duration of 30-90 seconds.
It is the short bursts of super high-intensity output such as that exerted when sprinting 100 meters, doing HIIT or Tabata training, or going all out on an assault bike or rower for 45 seconds.
This type of work doesn’t last long but will put you into a place of tremendous fatigue.
Maximum Aerobic Capacity
Max aerobic capacity is the total amount of work you can perform over a duration of 5-15 minutes.
Think about running 1-mile as fast as possible. Or the equivalent on a bike or in a pool.
This type of training will test both your max heart rate as well as your VO2 Max.
Long Duration Aerobic Endurance
Long duration aerobic endurance is your ability to sustain a consistent pace for 20+ minutes with no breaks.
This is your steady-state training where you are just moving (jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, etc.) at the same pace without stopping or slowing down too much.
Why should I train for endurance?
A helpful way to frame the type of exercise you should do is by simply thinking about the things you ask your body to do every day.
As the co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”
If you go through life neglecting parts of your health, you shouldn’t be puzzled when your body starts to limit you in the areas you ignored.
By training for each type of endurance, you can expect to:
recover more easily,
feel like you’re in fantastic shape,
lose weight or maintain healthy body weight (diet contingent), and
improve both your physical and mental performance in all facets of life.
Our goal in improving endurance isn’t just to be able to do more things but to be able to do them and feel great afterward.
You want to feel like playing with your kids, going on a run, hiking with a friend, or a round of golf with buddies GAVE you energy, not drained you of it and left you feeling awful afterward.
Keep that in mind as we cover the 6 reasons to train for endurance…
Reason #1: I want to have energy all day long.
Endurance is a critical aspect of energy management.
If you want to go through each day full of energy, avoid fatigue and dips, and feel fantastic as you work, exercise, and play, endurance training must be part of your exercise routine.
Not only is endurance training critical to your physical energy but also to your mental ability to pay attention, focus, and perform cognitively challenging work.
Reason #2: I want to be able to repeat some small effort in a muscle group and feel great about it afterward.
This is your muscular endurance.
You want to be able to walk up a few flights of stairs without burning quads, give your kid a piggyback ride, help carry and move furniture, have sex without constraint, perform activities of daily living, and do all the things you love without limitation.
Beyond avoiding being restricted by or feeling pain due to your muscular endurance, you want these activities to GIVE you energy rather than drain you of it.
Reason #3: I want to perform a tremendous amount of work for a short period of time (20-90 seconds).
This is your maximum anaerobic capacity.
You want to be able to power up a steep hill on your bike, paddle extremely hard on your surfboard to get to the top of a wave, sprint to catch a bus, or win bragging rights over your kids or buddies after a 100-meter dash (although speed will play a role here too).
These types of activities take max effort for a short period of time.
Reason #4: I want to repeat a high-intensity effort for 5-15 minutes.
This is your maximum aerobic capacity.
You want to run a mile as fast as possible, play water polo, chase down the ball on the soccer pitch, or perform any other activity with maximum intensity for 5-15 minutes.
Reason #5: I want my body to be able to stay in a sustained position while sitting, standing, playing, and exercising.
You want to be able to sit or stand at your desk and have perfect posture for at least 20-40 minutes at a time.
You want to be able to stand in line at the grocery store or bank for 20 minutes and not have a breakdown in posture.
You want to be able to run or bike and maintain proper posture and form without collapsing.
In essence, you want to be able to go through life’s many activities and not get injured or lose efficiency because you are unable to sustain the proper position, posture, or form for whatever you’re doing.
Reason #6: I want to be able to go a maximum distance.
This is your long duration aerobic endurance.
You want to be able to hike all day with friends, spend a long day on your feet as you discover a new city with your family, or run a half marathon and not only make it through but feel fantastic at the end of it.
That’s all for this week, folks.
Next week we’ll cover 4 practical and actionable training protocols for each type of endurance.
Much love to you and yours,