Increasing cardiovascular endurance (or cardio) is a common goal in training programs. Whether it be for the purpose of competing in a sport or competition or purely for increased fitness. We’ve put together some answers to common questions we’re asked on this style of training.
What is cardiovascular endurance?
We can define cardiovascular endurance (otherwise known as aerobic fitness) as the ability to provide oxygen and nutrients to working tissues, whilst simultaneously removing waste products, allowing them to “work” for an extended period of time.
Cardiovascular endurance relies heavily on the aerobic system (which requires a steady supply of oxygen) to provide the muscles with energy. This energy system is most sustainable to last for long periods but must be performed at submaximal intensities. For example, walking is mainly aerobic and sprinting is mainly anaerobic.
How do you improve your cardiovascular endurance?
Cardiovascular endurance can be improved in multiple ways. A good start for beginners would be to perform low-intensity steady state (LISS) exercises such as walking, hiking, jogging, cycling or swimming 1-2 times per week.
The intensity should be about 50-70% maximum heart rate (allowing you to speak short sentences). Progress by gradually increasing the length of these exercise bouts over time (increasing 5mins a week from 30 to 60mins over 6 weeks).
The body will adapt to these imposed demands by becoming more efficient when performing sustained bouts of activity, as well as increasing the fatigue threshold.
How to achieve improved endurance without losing muscle
The biggest contributors to maintaining muscle mass whilst endurance training are performing resistance exercise and ensuring proper nutrition. On top of endurance training, you should perform challenging resistance exercises at least twice per week. You should also eat enough calories and protein to support recovery and maintain muscle mass throughout.
What dietary/supplementary choices might speed up / help the process?
Some data suggest the potential for beetroot juice (dietary nitrate), creatine monohydrate and caffeine to positively impact endurance training adaptations.
If you’re looking to increase your cardiovascular endurance or have another training goal in mind, our friendly and expert team can help. We’ve helped hundreds of clients enjoy training more and achieve exceptional results. Find out more about our four pillars approach to training and reach out if you’re looking for a PT in London Mayfair to help you achieve your goals.