Did you know there are different types of endurance? Generally, endurance is the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.
When people hear the word endurance, most people probably think of a physical event that challenges your cardiovascular endurance like a cyclist or marathon runner.
And although this is one of the types of endurance, there are other equally important types of endurance to consider including:
- muscular endurance
- postural endurance
- mental endurance
These four types of endurance play an important role in our Movement Health continuum.
In simple terms cardiovascular endurance is how efficiently your heart and lungs can supply oxygen to your muscles to withstand an exercise or movement for an extended period of time. This is also why we call it “aerobic exercise” because you will be utilizing oxygen for energy (hmm good thing we already learned how to breathe)!
Just like any other muscle fiber the cardiovascular muscle system needs to be trained in order to be most effective.
At Stretch Affect, we create a cardiovascular program that meets you where you are and where you want to go.
When it comes to improving cardio, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and LISS (low-intensity steady-state) are two types of exercises that are commonly used.
HIIT targets 80-95% maximum heart rate (220 minus your age is a ballpark calculation), and involves shorter bouts of intense exercise.
Beneficial for increasing aerobic and anaerobic strength, burns more calories in a shorter period of time, continues calorie burn post-exercise.
LISS low-intensity steady-state targets 40-50% maximum heart rate and involves low to moderate intensity exercise for extended periods.
LISS is less-stressful on your body, aids in fat burning and fat loss, easier recovery period.
A good way to maintain a LISS during exercise is to try the talk test. The goal is to carry on a conversation as you exercise.
Improving your cardiovascular endurance also carries tremendous benefits including:
- Increase health of your heart and lungs
- Lower risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes
- Reduce stress (improve mood)
- Improve sleep quality
- Aide in weight loss
- Improve immune health
- Improve bone health
Muscular Endurance Training
Cardiovascular training goes hand in hand with muscular endurance training, which is the ability of specific muscles to exert force consistently over time.
Muscular endurance targets Type 1 muscle fibers that produce low power over longer durations and are more resistant to fatigue. Often referred to as “slow-twitch” muscle fibers; Type 1 fibers contain more mitochondria, have better supply of blood and oxygen, and contract more slowly. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are recruited during continuous exercise at low to moderate levels.
To recruit and train Type 1 fibers during strength training you will want to focus on greater reps and isometric holds.
Often times, physical therapist’s or trainers love to prescribe 3 sets of 10 for EVERYTHING, but when talking about endurance training and targeting the right muscles and the right amount of exertion, those 3 sets of 10 just won’t cut it!
Type 1 fibers are optimally recruited when performing strength training exercises of 12 reps or more for 3 sets and less than 60% of your 1 rep max. You can also increase muscular endurance and Type 1 fiber recruitment with longer isometric holds (muscles are engaged, but they are not changing length…think wall sits, planks).
It’s important to know what you are working toward so reps and sets can be altered to target your needs. You do not have to be training for an athletic event to benefit from muscular endurance, you’ll need endurance carrying your kids, walking up and down stairs, or carrying groceries!
Studies have also linked good muscular endurance with:
Decreased Cardiovascular Disease—a 2014 study showed in young men muscular endurance and cardiorespiratory fitness were associate with improving cardiovascular risk factors, whereas maximal strength was not.
Decreased Blood Pressure— Circuit Training Improves Blood Pressure and Vascular Health More Than Resistance Training
Decreased risk of Musculoskeletal Injuries—a 2017 study showed strong evidence that poor performance in a variety of standard musculoskeletal endurance and musculoskeletal strength exercises were associated with increased injuries.
And now for one of the most overlooked types of endurance—postural endurance.
You use postural control every day without even thinking about it because it operates on an automatic non-voluntary level. The Postural Control System allows us to stay in a controlled posture while responding to changes in position.
- Going from sitting to standing
- Responding to a slip or trip
- Carry a glass of water without spilling it
Remember those Type 1 muscle fibers we just talked about for muscular endurance? Those are the same muscles we recruit to help us maintain posture. Slow-twitch muscle fibers positively affect postural performance by ensuring body balance without causing early fatigue for long postural tasks.
In order to stave off injury due to postural issues, continue to focus on building those Type 1 muscle fibers.
Mental endurance—the grit factor
How many workouts, sets, reps, resolutions have you missed due to your MIND (not your BODY) telling you to stop?
We have all made New Year’s Resolutions or big audacious goals that we have failed to meet. Ever wonder why this is?
There is a plethora of reasons or excuses we may have, but we believe and research shows that it just might come down to mental endurance or grit!
Research psychologist, Angela Duckworth, is well-known for her research on grit.
Duckworth defines grit as:
Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.
Instead, grit is about having what some researchers call an ”ultimate concern”–a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.
Talent and luck matter to success. But talent and luck are no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, I think grit may matter as least as much, if not more.
Want to know how much grit you have? Take the grit test!
Mental endurance is often called upon in times of extended exertion…running a marathon, playing a 3 hour tennis match, driving in the Daytona 500, sitting for the bar exam. As Duckworth states, having grit can be a greater predictor of success than talent. Developing the ability to mentally outlast your doubts or competitors will get you far.
Assess goals and create a plan
When it comes to developing endurance, all types of endurance should be considered, prioritizing the type of endurance that fits with your desired goals.
So how do you know which one to prioritize?
By assessing your goals and creating a plan that includes the right exercises, targeting the right muscles, and training similar to the way the muscles will have to operate.
At Stretch Affect our assessment and plans follow these key items:
- Establish a clear goal
- Implement a system
- Develop a routine
- Prioritize consistency
- Don’t take a zero (a little bit of work each day is better than none at all)
We may have thrown some new types of endurance at you that you’ve never heard of before–some take aways we’d like to leave you with:
Cardiovascular endurance can be trained using both high-intensity interval training best for short bursts of exercise and low intensity steady state best for long.
Muscular endurance targets your Type 1 “slow-twitch” muscle fibers to sustain longer-duration efforts and resist fatigue focus on greater reps and isometric holds.
Poor postural endurance can lead to injury. Reduce fatigue by training specific postural holds for your given activity.
Mental endurance toward long-term goals. Even when progress toward your goal is halting or slow, maintain perseverance.
Don’t know which type of endurance training to start? Reach out to one of our Movement Health Specialists for a 15 minute call to assess your needs and get you on the right path to reach your goals.