Endurance


female mountain biking

Utilizing an endurance exercise routine approach to promote weight loss is one of the most effective ways an individual can obtain their personal health and fitness goals. Whether the endurance approach is applied to weight training, aerobics or other fitness routines, the effects on the cardiovascular system (namely the ability to burn calories and lose weight) are essentially the same.

For example, when an individual implements an endurance approach to their strength training routine they would essentially lower the amount of weight they lift (i.e. 50% of maximum). In another example, for individuals that are performing an aerobic activity (i.e. biking, running...) they would simply simply reduce their level of intensity.

The intent of the endurance approach to weight loss, or good fitness and health, is to elevate the heart rate to 60% to 75% of the maximum heart rate and maintain that heart rate level for an extended period of time (i.e. a minimum of 20 to 30 consecutive minutes).

By doing so, the individual will be able to perform the workout for a longer period of time, and burn a higher number of calories as a result.

When implementing an endurance approach to weight loss, each individual should incorporate a strength training routine (increase metabolism) and an aerobic training routine (burn additional calories) into their overall fitness routine.

In addition, the dietary approach should support the nutritional requirements associated with performing a strength training and aerobic training fitness routine while still maintaining a caloric deficit.

Strength, Aerobics and Diet


This approach isn't as difficult as it may seem. Begin by determining the time of the day that you will work out, the number of days that you will exercise, and the length of each session. For instance, you may choose to exercise after work for one hour, four times a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. In addition, you will need to determine where you will perform your fitness routine. You may decide to strength train at a fitness center and perform your biking at home (stationary bike), in a park or around your neighborhood.

Second, define your specific strength training and aerobic fitness routines (i.e. circuit strength training and biking). Thereafter, determine which days you will perform each portion of your fitness routine (i.e. strength training on Tuesday and Thursday and biking on Monday and Friday).

Finally, you will need to give some thought to your current dietary regimen. For example, you may need to increase your protein intake while decreasing the amount of high carbohydrate processed foods that you typically consume. Below are are few tips and guidelines to follow when endurance training:

  1. Achieve a target heart rate that is 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.

  2. Limit your strength training to 50% to 60% of the maximum weight that you could lift one time for each of your exercises. Increase the amount of weight used per exercise as your strength increases, maintaining 50% to 60% of your maximum.

  3. Perform between 3 and 5 sets per strength training exercise. Perform 12 to 15 repetitions per exercise. As your strength increases, increase the amount of weight used per exercise while maintaining 12 to 15 repetitions.

  4. Minimize or eliminate any pyramiding techniques when strength training as gaining strength and lean muscle mass is not the number one priority. Super setting techniques are acceptable as they support elevated cardiovascular activity.

Designing an Effective Endurance Program


Below are additional tips and techniques to keep in mind when designing an endurance fitness routine that is focused on obtaining your personal weight loss goals:

    woman lifting weights
  • Plan, Define, Update and Monitor Your Fitness Routine and Results: Once you have defined your fitness routine, you will want to define your personal fitness goals.

    In addition, you will want to monitor your training results, recording the strength training exercises that you perform, the weight used and the number of repetitions in each set.

    Thereafter, monitor your progress in terms of the total number of exercises you perform, the time needed to complete your workout, the amount of weight used for each exercise, and the number of repetitions performed for each exercise. Monitor your cardiovascular routine in the same manner.

    In regards to a biking routine, monitor the distance traveled and the time that it took to complete the workout. As you progress, continue to monitor the time and distance of each aerobic workout. As the time it takes to complete your workout decreases, increase the distance so that the workout continues to take the same amount of time to complete.

  • Allow Your Fitness Routine to Evolve and Change as Your Conditioning Improves: By doing so, you will be able to rapidly adjust your fitness routine to meet your personal fitness goals and to address any personal or physical issues that may arise. Divide your larger fitness goals into smaller short-term goals to reflect your personal achievements at a more frequent rate. By doing so, you will not only increase your level of motivation, but the probability that you will continue to regularly perform your exercise routine as well.

  • Vary Your Workouts: There are several benefits to varying your fitness routine as you progress towards your personal fitness goals. By varying your fitness routine you will be cross-training. Cross-training is centered around the concept of varying the exercise types, duration and intensity levels to force the body to adjust and remain in a state of confusion as it tries to meet the demands of the workout.

    For example, varying the exercises performed by each muscle group when strength training is an excellent way to force the body to continually condition itself. Another approach is to change the sequence in which the muscles are exercised. For instance, if you typically exercise the chest muscles followed by the back muscles, try changing your exercise routine to where you perform the chest exercises followed by triceps exercises. By doing so, the triceps will already be pre-fatigued (triceps are a secondary support muscle group for the chest exercises), and working them with the same amount of weight and the same number of repetitions will force them to work harder.

    Likewise, it is recommended that you periodically vary the type of cardiovascular exercise that you perform. For example, you might improve your cardiovascular conditioning by performing a biking routine over a 1 to 3-month time period. Thereafter, choose another cardiovascular exercise (i.e. jogging, running, swimming, aerobics classes, etc.) and then perform that exercise for a 1 to 3-month time period. Another approach could be to perform your biking routine on one of your cardiovascular workout days, and a second type of cardiovascular exercise on the other days of your cardiovascular workout schedule. For example, your might perform a biking workout on Tuesday and a swimming routine on Thursday.

  • Vary Your Workout Times: While it is important to define the specific days and times when you'll exercise, it can be beneficial to experiment with your workout days and times. For instance, if you typically perform your exercise routine after work, you may find a greater level of focus and energy by performing the strength training portion of your workout in the morning, prior to work.

    You may also consider varying your workout days. For example, if you typically perform your cardiovascular workouts on Tuesday and Thursday, try performing one of your cardiovascular workouts on Saturday or Sunday. One of the benefits of exercising on the weekends is that you will typically have more time to perform the exercise. As such, you may perform a lighter cardiovascular workout during the week and a more difficult cardiovascular workout on the weekend.

  • Spend the Proper Amount of Time on the Larger Muscle Group Exercises: Exercising the larger muscle groups (legs, chest, back and abdominals) require a greater expenditure of energy, and hence a greater number of calories. The larger muscle groups require the assistance of many of the smaller support muscles. When performing a squat, for example, the body requires that the quadriceps, calves, glutes, back and shoulders be involved in the movement. Likewise, when performing the flat barbell bench press, the body utilizes the chest, back, triceps and shoulder muscle groups. Placing a focus on training the larger muscle groups will not only burn additional calories, but create greater overall physical body strength as well.

    However, it is important to train the smaller muscle groups as well, since spot training will produce targeted physical results that will facilitate the obtainment of your overall personal fitness goals.

  • Include a Stretching Routine Before and After Your Exercise Routine: It is important to perform a stretching routine before and after you perform your exercise routine. Performing a stretching routine prior to your actual exercise routine will increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles, ligaments and tendons, preparing them for the exercise routine that is to follow. Stretching also increases the flexibility of your joints, increases your range of motion and decreases the probability of injury.

    Performing a stretching routine after you have performed your exercise routine will allow your body to slowly return to a state of rest. The benefits of doing so include decreased stiffness and soreness, improved flexibility and range of motion, and elongation of all soft tissues (i.e. muscles, ligaments and tendons).

    Typical stretching routines should be performed for 5 to 15 minutes, and each stretching exercise should be held for approximately 15 seconds to 1 minute. Remember not to hold your breath during the stretching exercise, and to exhale as you enter into the stretch.

  • Evaluate and Adjust Your Dietary Habits: The importance of a healthy, well-balanced, nutritional, calorie-conscious, low-fat dietary regime cannot be overstated. The body requires nutrients to perform every bodily function that occurs within the body, and the energy provided by the nutrients sustains life itself.

    When incorporating a strength training routine into your overall fitness regimen, it is imperative that you consume plenty of protein, an essential building block of lean muscle tissue.

    A typical healthy and nutritional dietary plan should include vegetables, fruits, natural whole foods, chicken, fish, lean meat, dairy products and legumes. In fact, a dietary regime centered around these types of foods is an appropriate dietary lifestyle that will support a life filled with good health and well-being. Try to minimize the amount of processed foods in your diet, as they are filled with empty calories, chemicals and other materials that are difficult for the digestive system to process.

  • Utilize Various Measuring and Progress Techniques: Typically, most individuals rely on the results of a weight scale to determine whether they are overweight, at their appropriate weight or underweight. The problem with this approach is that most weight scales do not take into account the fact that lean muscle mass, by volume, weighs more than body fat. In other words, the same size area of muscle weighs more than the exact same size area of body fat. When an individual exercises using strength training, they will increase their lean muscle mass, and hence their weight. For this reason, many individuals become frustrated when they weigh themselves and find that they have only lost a couple of pounds, not realizing that they could've lost several pounds of fat while gaining pounds of muscle in the process.

    A much better approach to monitoring your fitness progress is to utilize a tape measure to measure the chest, waist, hips, leg and arm areas. Quite often, an individual will weigh herself and find that she has only lost 5 to 7 pounds. However, when she measures the various aforementioned body areas, she finds that she has lost several inches from her waist, hips, legs and arms. This is due to the fact that her fitness program, with or without a strength training routine, has increased her lean muscle mass. It is our belief that everyone should discontinue weighing with a weight scale and simply use a measuring tape. In reality, if an individual sets their personal fitness goals to achieve specific measurements for the previously mentioned areas, their body weight is irrelevant.

    A skinfold caliper is also beneficial in determining an individual's fitness progress. A skinfold caliper works by pinching the skin to determine the percentage of body fat. Typical body areas to measure include the back of the arms, the back, the abdominals, the waist and the inner leg. Once each of the measurements have been taken, an average body fat level can be determined. An individual can record their body fat percentage measurements, and thereafter determine their personal body fat percentage fitness goals. Once they have determined their personal body fat fitness goals, they can monitor their progress on a monthly basis.

  • Devote an Appropriate Amount of Time to Rest and Relaxation: The human body requires approximately 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to rejuvenate, repair and replenish the body and mind. There are countless activities performed by the body while it sleeps, both from a physical and mental perspective. During, the body is able to function at a lower energy level as well, which conserves energy for the waking hours.

    In regards to rest and relaxation, the mind and body utilize this time to calm, center, balance and release any internal stress and anxiety. The soft tissue of the body (i.e. muscles) relaxes and allows for improved blood and oxygen flow and greater disposal of toxins and waste. True health and fitness cannot be achieved if the mind is erratic, stressed and cluttered.

    Yoga and Pilates are excellent forms of exercise that focus on calming the mind-body, improving balance, coordination and flexibility, elongating soft tissue, and creating a sense of inner peace.

yoga stretch

Endurance training is an excellent form of exercise that is ideal for promoting weight loss, improved cardiovascular function, reduced excess body fat and increased lean muscle mass (especially when coupled with a strength training routine).

Regularly performing an endurance fitness program will increase the metabolic rate which produces increased energy levels, a faster rate of weight loss, and heightened levels of stamina and endurance when performing physical activities.

As with any fitness program, it is important to include a sound nutritional dietary regime coupled with an adequate amount of sleep, rest and relaxation. Truly good health, fitness and mental well-being are much closer than most individuals realize.