Endurance plays a major role in your ability to perform athletic movements for an extended period of time. Running, cycling, rowing, swimming, soccer and volleyball are just a few examples of endurance sports. When you want to increase your endurance, you must condition a major component known as VO2 max. While this may sound familiar to a trained athlete, it may sound like a different language if you are not versed on this type of training.
VO2 Max Significance
VO2 max refers to your body's maximum ability to transport and use oxygen during physical activity. It is the primary indicator that determines cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. It is also known as maximum oxygen intake and plays an important role in an athlete's success at his chosen sport. VO2 max is influenced by a number of factors, including age, gender, genetics and altitude. Increasing training intensity and volume are the two primary ways to improve VO2 max, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Increase Training Intensity
If you are used to training at a certain intensity, you will need to take it up a notch. The human body adapts to a set pace and makes the needed adjustments in oxygen consumption based on exercise intensity. You will need to push yourself harder and increase the intensity at which you train. A good way to do this is to either increase your pace or decrease your recovery time. If you typically take 60 seconds to recover during each exercise, try 40 seconds instead, suggests NSCA. Increasing your intensity conditions your body to use oxygen more efficiently.
Increase Training Duration
Increasing your training duration requires you to perform exercises for a longer period of time than you're used to. For example, if you are a runner, and you typically run several miles each week, you will want to increase the length of time you run during each session. If you are a cyclist who cycles one hour daily, you will want to cycle slightly longer each day, perhaps 1.5 hours. The longer you exercise, the harder you will breathe. This will force your body to adapt by using oxygen more efficiently.
Maximum Heart Rate
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway examined the effects of training intensity on VO2 max using moderately trained males. The study found that training at 90 to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate is significantly more efficient at increasing VO2 max than training below this threshold. The study can be found in the April 2007 edition of the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise."
- Washington State University: Training to Improve the "Big Three"
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Aerobic High-intensity Intervals Improve Vo2max More than Moderate Training
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; National Strength and Conditioning Association