How to Improve Cardio Endurance
The same old workout only delivers the same old results. Increasing the duration of your run, swim, bike ride or other cardio activity requires improving your VO2 max, or maximal oxygen consumption.
As you increase your VO2 max, the heart gets stronger and delivers more oxygen to the muscles, which allows for a greater energy output. Intensifying your cardiovascular training can help to improve your VO2 max and cardio endurance.
One Step at a Time
Increase the duration and intensity of your workouts in a gradual manner to help prevent fatigue and overtraining, both of which can interfere with your endurance goals. For example, runners can aim to safely increase speed by 2 to 3 seconds per mile each week. Alternatively, extend your cardio session by five or 10 minutes weekly.
Taking a comprehensive approach by incorporating different types of workouts throughout the week can be beneficial. For example, designate one session for speed, another for distance and save a moderate-intensity or cross-training workout for the third day. Avoid training for distance and speed on the same day.
Take slow, deep breaths to maximize your oxygen consumption. Breathing deep into the lungs, rather than taking shallow breaths, allows oxygen to be carried more efficiently through the blood to your muscles, where it is used as energy. Practice breathing by inhaling slowly through your nose until you see your abdomen rise.
Exhale through the mouth slowly until all of the air is out of your lungs and your abdomen returns to normal. Regular cardiovascular exercise can also help to increase your tidal volume, which is the amount of air that you breathe in and out with each breath. A greater tidal volume means that more oxygen is getting into the body, blood and muscles, which in turn leads to increased cardio endurance.
Train With Intervals
Incorporate interval training into your workout program at least once a week to strengthen both your muscles and cardiovascular ability. Training with intervals can be done with any type of cardio, including running, biking or swimming. Intervals require that you quicken your pace to an intense level and sustain the elevated rate for a specific period of time or distance.
Follow the intense interval with a slowed or moderate pace to help you to recover. For example, perform at your maximum speed for one minute and then slow to a moderate pace for two to three minutes. Repeat the interval for a total of eight to 10 repetitions.
Rest and Recover
Leave adequate time each week for rest and recovery, which can help to improve your athletic endurance and performance. Schedule one to two days per week for complete rest, where no physically demanding activities are performed.
Failing to properly rest can lead to overtraining syndrome, which will likely interfere with your goal of greater cardio endurance. Injuries are also more likely to occur when you are fatigued; recovering properly can help you to regularly progress and remain injury-free.
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