The definition of endurance, as an important component of fitness, is the ability of the body to maintain repeated repetitions for long duration.
The muscles that enable us to perform for extended periods of time are called slow-twitch muscles.
Types of endurance activities include, but are not limited to: cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, and marathons.
Endurance is necessary to perform aerobics -- thus, it is essential to achieve cardio-vascular fitness. Endurance training among older individuals can result in a large increase in aerobic power.
There is also a significant relationship between strength and endurance as it pertains to our overall state of fitness and athletic performance.
Now that you know some of the benefits of endurance, you may be interested in participating in sports that require it. If you currently have difficulty going it for the long haul, there are two effective ways to increase your endurance capacity.
The most obvious is to a bit farther or longer when you train. The not-so-obvious is to include strength training.
Strength training builds endurance by causing the body to adapt to longer demands on the muscles. Because stronger muscles are more efficient, you are able to do the same work with less effort.
One of my favorite weight-training exercises for increased endurance is performing one set of very high repetitions on occasion (no more than once per month). It is sometimes referred to as “hundreds,” although you should not be able to exceed 100.
These high repetitions must begin with a surprisingly light weight that starts to feel like a ton after 50 repetitions or more. The goal is to find a weight that allows you to get as close to 100 reps as possible before failure.
Hundreds is an intensive form of weight training, and should not include more than one muscle group during a session. I don’t stop moving because I "feel the burn" as Jane Fonda used to say. The set stops at the point of failure.
I sometimes feel this one for the next day or two. I not only focus on giving that group of muscles a few days to recover, I take care of those sore muscles by staying hydrated, stretching, and relaxing in a hot Epsom salt bath. Of course, my all-time favorite -- a massage.
Performing hundreds is a highly concentrated workout. Recovery is imperative to make gains, particularly as you get older. If you don't allow your muscles to recover, you are tearing the muscles down. In my opinion, hundreds is the very definition of endurance strength training.
Do NOT do hundreds if you are a beginner!
And remember! Muscles need sufficient protein for growth and repair.
Another method for increasing endurance is interval training.