Cardiovascular Endurance: Impact, Benefits, and Workouts
How are you going to reach your peak potential without cardiovascular endurance? It has many names: cardio, aerobic exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, but it all leads to the same definition. Cardiovascular endurance is how effectively your heart and lungs can supply oxygen to your body during medium to high intensity exercises.
There are just as many ways to improve cardiovascular endurance as there are names for it. You can do endurance training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), strength training, or just about any kind of physical activity to improve your aerobic fitness. It really depends on the goals you have that will determine what cardiovascular fitness you do.
With cardiovascular endurance being one of the most important health related fitness measures, regardless of if you are an athlete or just looking to be healthier, you will want to explore the different types of cardiovascular endurance exercises. Programs like Athletic Fitness inside of Peak Strength are meant to improve your cardiovascular benchmarks over time with block periodization.
Keep reading as we dive deeper into what it is, the benefits, and how to properly train.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Cardiovascular Endurance
As we think about cardiovascular endurance through the simplest terms, we need to think about physiology and what is actually happening in the body. The main driver of cardiorespiratory endurance is mitochondrial respiration.
Mitochondrial respiration is when the body is going to use some form of energy , something like glycogen, and use it to create ATP (adenosine 5’-triphosphate). Think about ATP as the body’s currency. It’s what determines how the body can actually move. By using oxygen and then transforming energy into ATP, the body can start to move. Without this process, we are unable to move.
In a nutshell, if you want to improve cardiovascular endurance, then you need to increase the mitochondrial volume in the body. This way you can move or perform for longer periods of time.
Types of Cardiovascular Endurance Training
There are three main cardio endurance training methods that discussions focus around. Below is the run down on each.
Sprint Interval Training
Sprint interval training is going to be the training program that stimulates better mitochondrial respiration and allows for the body to create ATP faster. When the mitochondria is respiring at a more efficient rate, then our bodies can sustain our movement patterns at a higher intensity.
High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT training is going to contribute to increasing overall mitochondrial mass. This is the total volume of mitochondria in the body. Also similar to sprint interval training, it is going to improve the respiration rate of mitochondria to produce more ATP.
You can use resources like Peak Strength to get good cardio-based training programs to improve your athletic fitness.
Long Slow Distance Training
Long slow distance training is also going to contribute to building overall mitochondrial mass. When it comes to improving the base levels of physical fitness and cardiovascular endurance, LSD training is the way to go. This is what most crossfitters and conditioning coaches will use early in the season to establish base aerobic endurance.
Benefits of Cardio
Enhanced Athletic Performance
Cardiovascular endurance is a key factor in athletic performance, particularly for endurance sports such as running, cycling, and swimming. As your cardiovascular endurance improves, your body becomes more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. This allows you to perform at a higher intensity for longer periods, giving you a competitive edge in your chosen sport.
Improved Heart Health
One of the most important, if not THE MOST important, benefits of cardiovascular endurance is a healthier heart. A strong cardiovascular system is vital for maintaining a healthy heart. Regular aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently through blood vessels. This reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers blood pressure, providing long-term health benefits.
Better Lung Function
Cardiovascular endurance training improves lung capacity and function, enabling your respiratory system to efficiently extract oxygen from the air and transport it to your bloodstream. This not only supports athletic performance but also contributes to overall health by improving your body's ability to take in and utilize oxygen.
Increased Metabolism and Weight Management
Aerobic exercise boosts metabolism, helping your body burn calories more efficiently. Improved cardiovascular endurance allows you to engage in longer, more intense workouts, increasing the number of calories burned and promoting weight loss or maintenance. This, in turn, reduces the risk of obesity and related health issues as long as you pair it with a healthy diet.
Enhanced Mental Health
Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Aerobic activities release endorphins, which are natural mood elevators, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Furthermore, cardiovascular endurance training has been linked to improved cognitive function, memory, and focus.
Increased Energy Levels and Stamina
As your cardiovascular endurance improves, so does your overall energy and stamina. This not only enhances your performance in sports and for sustained physical activity, but also allows you to tackle daily tasks with greater ease and efficiency.
How to Properly Train
If we go back to the section about the different types of training methods, we can see that each one has a core benefit. It would make sense to combine two or maybe all three forms of endurance exercises to earn overall good cardiovascular endurance.
Maybe one to two times a week you can hop on a rower or a treadmill to build up that mitochondrial mass. Give them a test workout like a certain pace for a target amount of time or to travel a certain distance toward the end of a workout.
Then one day a week you can set aside for sprint interval training or HIIT to improve mitochondrial respiration. For these workouts, do 15-20 second bursts of sprints or intense exercise with a rest period of 60-90 seconds. At least 3 times a week should have some kind of aerobic exercise included in the workout.
If you need help with finding a good regimen, you can always go the route of a personal trainer, but that can be expensive and be restricted to certain times. For a training program you can follow every day, try out Peak Strength. It’s an app we developed in house that caters to your specific goals and adapts to the equipment you have available.
The easiest way to measure cardiovascular endurance is going to be noticing the reduced fatigue when you perform an endurance exercise like running, rowing, or using a stationary bike. Unless you’re a doctor or a scientist, you likely won’t be dealing with exact oxygen levels. Although, you might notice that doing moderate cardio or daily tasks get a little easier.
It’s safe to say that improving your aerobic endurance is going to improve your overall quality of life. As someone that is just trying to exercise more and become healthier, maybe ease into building your intensity with some moderate intensity continuous training - aka just go hiking or an easy bike ride.
As an athlete, you may need to do some more extensive training to get your cardiovascular endurance to where it needs to be. Whether you are a distance runner, football player, or a swimmer, combining different methods to maximize mitochondrial respiration and volume will make you a beast.
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Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!
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