Cardio Endurance Training Workouts. How to Increase Endurance.

Updated on April 3, 2019
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I trained to improve my endurance so I could bike to provincial parks and beaches. Long distance biking is one of my hobbies.

Endurance Training

Exercising to increase your endurance is referred to as endurance training. You train so you can last longer. After choosing an exercise or activity, pick a distance or a duration. Then, try to increase your stamina each week until you can achieve your goal. Most endurance workouts are cardio workouts that focus on the legs or arms.

I train my legs so I can hike, bike, or run. People train their arms for rowing, paddling, boxing and climbing. If they have good stamina a person could travel long distances in a canoe or on a bicycle. So far my longest bike rides are around 61 km or 38 miles. According to my Fitbit, my best day after I got it was close to 55,000 steps.

Elliptical display from my last workout.
Elliptical display from my last workout. | Source

Use Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is an important part of endurance training. People often tell themselves that they can't do it. It is too far when you tell yourself it is too far. I thought biking 20 km was too far. So it was. I kept telling myself I could not bike 60 km so I did not try. For years negative thinking was the only thing that was holding me back. Changing my mind made a huge difference.

Humans tend to be very good at increasing their stamina. Most of the millions of people that run or bike for over 3 hours are ordinary people that started doing endurance workouts. With training people can increase their stamina by a factor of 10. I started exercising for 20 minutes. Three months and two weeks later I was able to workout for 200 minutes.

Start by telling yourself you can do it.

Set Big Fun Fitness Goals

Do It as a hobby. A hobby is something you keep doing for fun. Long distance biking is one of my hobbies. It takes a lot of effort but I enjoy it. Some other good ones for endurance are kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, walking, hiking, jogging and roller skating. You can have fun, travel long distances and enjoy the scenery. Large parks are good places to get in shape. The scenery is nice and the roads are safer.

If you do it as a hobby it feels easier and more relaxing. It also gives you a good reason to workout for hours. Try to come up with some fun and amazing fitness goals like going on a canoe trip. I trained so I could bike to a large park that is famous for its 3 beaches. Planning to do something fun that you can't do very often gives you a reason to get ready for it. Set big goals so you have a reason to improve.

I took a short break from my cardio workout to take this picture.
I took a short break from my cardio workout to take this picture. | Source

Get In The Habit of Improving

People often get into the habit of doing the same cardio workout over and over again. You might do cardio for 30 minutes 2 or 3 times a week. Three months later you could still be doing the same 30 minute exercise routine. If you try to increase the speed or distance each time then you could probably improve almost every week. After 3 months your workouts could last 120 minutes.

Keep trying to increase the duration or the intensity of the exercise until you reach your goal. Get in the habit of improving almost every time. I do cardio once a week on Saturday or Sunday. Every time I do the exercise I try to improve until I reach my goal. Exercise machines, fitness apps, fitness watches and Google Maps can help you keep track of your progress. If your last workout is not recorded then write it down.

Increase Your Willpower

You exert willpower when when you resist the urge to do something. A lack of willpower is associated with bad decisions and quitting. During a long workout willpower can help you resist the urge to stop. A fit person that feels like quitting after 30 minutes may be able to use willpower to last another 30 to 60 minutes.

Increase your willpower by using it. You can improve it with practice. Static holds like planks and yoga poses require a lot of willpower. So does meditation. While running, biking or hiking use willpower to make it up hills. Practice using willpower to last longer.

Make Time Go By Faster

Stop waiting for the time to run out. When you are waiting for the workout to end it can seem longer. Time seems to move slower when you are waiting. Try to stay in the moment. Adding some variety to your workout can help. Watch TV, listen to music or exercise where there is nice scenery that changes. You can also alter the intensity of the exercise.

Try to make it seem like time is going by faster. My 3 hour bike ride felt more like a 1 hour bike ride. There were hills and the scenery changed a lot. I take the scenic route because it feels shorter. The hardest part for me is when there is a lack of change. For example when I am cycling on a long flat road and everything looks almost the same.

Use Cross Training

The best way to get better at long distance biking is to bike long distances. When I can not go for a bike rides I can run on an elliptical trainer. Cross training is when you do other activities that help you get better at the activity you want to get better at. Use it when you want to add some variety to your routine and when you can not do the exercise you want to do.

Before cycling season starts I train so I can run 14 miles on my elliptical trainer. It helps me prepare for cycling season. Treadmills and elliptical trainers cost a lot of money but I think it is worth having one good exercise machine at home. If you don't want to buy one then I recommend going to a gym when it is too cold to workout outside. Rowing machines are good for getting you ready to row or paddle a boat.

Elliptical trainers are great for endurance training.
Elliptical trainers are great for endurance training.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

What you eat matters. Eating fast food and junk food can hurt your workouts. So can overeating. Pay attention to how the foods you are eating affect you. For instance I noticed that eating porridge before a long bike ride is much better than eating waffles or pancakes. If I have fast food for supper then it makes it harder for me to run after supper. Maintaining a healthy diet makes it easier to get fit.

Even though I was only running or biking long distance once a week it increased my appetite. I needed to eat more food. Eating more food did not make me fat. I gained weight and people told me I was eating too much but I was losing fat. The weight increase was from muscle. You may need to eat more healthy food.

Build Tolerance to Heat

Help your body acclimate to the heat. The heat during the summer can really slow you down. I have seen people pass out. You can also overheat while exercising inside, even in the winter. Exercising indoors can make you really hot because of the lack of wind. I occasionally experienced heat exhaustion after overheating. Now I do things to avoid it.

People can build a tolerance to the heat. Start by sweating on purpose. Doing stationary exercises inside is a good way to get hot. I can workout up sweat in a cold basement in the winter. I got used to being hot while using my elliptical trainer before it was hot outside. It takes about two weeks to adapt. Being fit also makes it easier to be active when it is hot. Exercise inside when it is still cold outside so you are fit and used to the heat.

Dress for the weather, limit the use of air conditioning and spend time outside. Keeping your house at 20 degrees celsius when it is 32 degrees outside makes it harder to adapt the heat. Allow yourself to acclimate to the weather. On really hot days only exercise in the morning or in the evening, limit the amount of time you spend with the sun beating down on you, wear light clothes, and try to stay near a body of water like a lake.

Stay hydrated and have extra water. I bring 2 water bottles with me now . If I don't drink all the water the extra water can be dumped on my clothes. Be careful when exercising outside in the summer and when you are exercising inside. Give yourself at least 2 weeks to adapt to the heat before doing a long workout on a hot day.

Take it easy until you can handle the heat.

Avoid Overtraining

People often over train while doing cardio workouts. They don't give their body time to fully recover. I recommend doing cardio endurance workouts once or twice a week. Exercising more than that does not give me better results. Try exercising more often. If it does not help then try exercising less. Overtraining can prevent you from gaining muscle and increasing your endurance.

Another reason to limit the frequency of your workouts is time. You could be exercising for hours and it takes time to recover. Doing them daily takes up too much time and energy. I could spend 12 hours a week using my elliptical when 3 hours is enough. With exercise more is not always better. In most cases you should exercise just enough to get the results you want to avoid overtraining.

How Long to Increase Endurance?

While doing cardio endurance training once a week I increased my stamina by an average of approximately 12 minutes per week until I achieved my goal. I did that for running on an elliptical trainer and for cycling. The fastest way to improve is to exercise, give yourself time to recover and then exercise again. It can take 3 or 4 days to fully recover from a long workout. If you don't give yourself enough time to recover then it will take longer to improve.

Improving a little barely takes any time but it could take months to get the results you want. You may need 3 to 4 months of training to get ready. If you want to do an activity in the summer then start your training in the spring. The sooner you start the easier it will be. I like to give myself lots of time so the workouts are relaxing and not as difficult.

Getting ready to bike long distances is a lot easier now that I have an elliptical trainer. I start getting ready to bike to beaches when there is still snow on the ground. It takes about 1 month to improve your breathing, decrease your heart rate and significantly improve your muscular endurance. If you are getting in shape so you can do something amazing then it will probably take at least 3 months.

I took this picture after my first 3 hour bike ride.
I took this picture after my first 3 hour bike ride. | Source

Tips to Increase Stamina

Use positive thinking.
Increase your willpower.
Build tolerance to heat.
Set big goals.
Make time go by faster.
Avoid overtraining.
Pick fun activities.
Use cross training.
Don't procrastinate.
Make improving a habit.
Maintain a healthy diet.
Workout regularly.

Results

I was able to run the equivalent of 14 miles on my elliptical trainer at the highest resistance setting and I was able to bike over 38 miles to a large provincial park with 3 beaches. Once I believed I could do it increasing my cardio endurance was simple and fairly easy. I mainly just needed to try to beat my last workout over and over again for a few months.

A lack of stamina makes it harder to get things done and enjoy life. You can't enjoy things like going for a walk in the woods if you are tired and out of breath in less than 10 minutes. Increasing your stamina is a good way to get fit. Having good endurance allows you to do more of the things you want or need to do.

Cardio endurance training slowed my breathing and heart rate. It helped me gain muscle and lose fat. I find it relaxing, it helps me sleep better and after I recover I feel more energetic. My legs became stronger so it was easier to lift heavy objects like a tree that I carried to a wood pile. A lot of activities became easier and more enjoyable. When I am doing cardio endurance workouts I eat healthier and drink more water. It reduces my junk food cravings.

I gained muscle while biking to beaches.
I gained muscle while biking to beaches. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    © 2019 Michael H

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