What is the difference between aerobic and muscular endurance? And how can you train effectively to improve your body's endurance?

Endurance is the capacity of an organism to resist, withstand, recover from difficulties, and stay physically active for an extended period.

In other words, endurance is what helps you keep going and find inner strength when you feel like giving up.

Athletes, competitors, and everyone, who wants to improve their fitness level, should do endurance workouts.

Progress happens when a person accomplishes a higher amount of effort than their previous capabilities. Change does not happen overnight, but regular training that tests your limits will eventually make you unstoppable.

The best ways to build endurance

No single training plan or diet fits all. If something worked well for your friend, this does not mean that it would work well for you too.

When it comes to building endurance, there are many different programs and exercises you can do, and of course, you should choose them according to your personal needs, abilities, goals, and experience.

The general guidelines for your action plan include:

  • Pushing yourself a bit further on every workout;
  • Combining different types of exercises;
  • Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing;
  • Getting enough quality sleep;
  • Consuming well-balanced meals;
  • Balancing between training hard and recovery.

Distinguish the difference

Many people believe that you must perform only cardio movements to gain endurance.

While running and biking are great for improving your stamina, this works mainly for your aerobic endurance.

The same is also true the other way around – working out with weights, for example, would improve your muscular endurance, but it would not contribute much to your aerobic endurance.

Aerobic endurance and muscular endurance are two different things, and they both require different types of training.

How to build aerobic endurance?

Also known as cardiovascular endurance or stamina, aerobic endurance is your capacity to keep performing at moderate intensity for an extended period.

Aerobic exercises use the cardiorespiratory system – lungs, heart, veins, arteries, portal, and coronary vessels – to provide your muscles with oxygen and nutrients as they work.

Our favorite exercises for aerobic endurance:

  • Swimming. This sport is easy on the joints and suitable for many people. Swimming keeps your heart rate up, improves your cardiovascular endurance, tones the muscles, and helps you build strength. It is also a relaxing activity, and it might provide an antidepressant effect.
  • Running. Besides increasing your stamina, running has many other health benefits. It strengthens your lungs and immune system, helps prevent high blood pressure and elevates your mood quickly. Running requires no equipment, so it is the most natural place to start your journey towards building endurance.
  • Biking. Cycling is a great cardio and legs workout at the same time. It improves posture and coordination, increases muscle strength and flexibility, and strengthens the bones.
  • Cardio machines. Rowing Machine, StairMaster, Ski Erg, Air Bike…there are many options you can choose from in the gym, or the store, if you are looking to get a machine at home. Cardio machines are practical and allow you to experiment with the intensity and resistance.
  • Breathing training. Respiratory training focus' your efforts on your respiratory system and lung muscles. With the Airofit breathing trainer, you can track the progress of your training sessions using real-time data. Airofit trains both inspiratory and expiratory strength, vital capacity, anaerobic threshold, revitalization, etc.

Bonus Tip: Even though there is a common misconception that only long cardio sessions build aerobic endurance, this is not the case with HIIT.

Studies show that HIIT is significantly more effective than moderate training in increasing your VO2 max, so consider including it at least once per week.

How to build muscular endurance

In simple terms, muscle strength is how much weight you lift once, while muscular (or strength) endurance is how many times you can lift a certain amount of weight. Anaerobic, resistance workouts help you build lean muscle mass.

To gain more stamina as well, you need to focus on training with a higher number of repetitions so that you can increase the muscles’ working time.

Every weight exercise can bring you muscular endurance, so we are not going to focus on the practices here.

What is more important is how many repetitions you do, how much time you rest between each set, how you perform the exercises, and in what order.

Essential recommendations for building strength endurance

  • For large muscle groups, such as the legs, back, and chest, pick weights that allow you to perform between 12 to 18 reps. When working on the smaller muscle groups, focus on 10 to 14 reps.
  • Include supersets. Make sure you start the superset with the exercise that targets more muscles at the same time, and continue with the more isolated one.
  • For example, if you want to do a superset of pushups and triceps kickbacks, do the pushups first and then move on to the triceps kickbacks, without any rest between the exercises.
  • Include drop sets. Do the drop set as a last set of each exercise. You can also do a few at the end of your workout as a finisher.
  • Breathe deep and focus on the right rhythm. Breathe in during the lowering phase; breathe out during the lifting period.
  • Do circuit training. Circuit training usually engages the entire body. Therefore you can do the exercises without rest in between, which improves your endurance significantly. You can experiment with the number of sets, exercises, rounds, and exercise order to make your workout even more enjoyable.

Final Thoughts

Increasing the length and intensity of a circuit workout is not the only way to vary with difficulty. The order you perform the movements matters significantly.

For example, let’s say you want to complete a round of squats, pushups, back rows, lunges, dips, and pull-ups.

Performing the circuit in this order is challenging, but if you want to make it even more complicated, try this – squats, lunges, pull-ups, back rows, pushups, and dips.

Do you notice the difference? In the first example, you do an exercise that targets one muscle group, and then the next exercise works for a different group. Hence, the targeted area rests before the next movement.

In the second example, you do two exercises one after the other that work the same muscles, which is a lot more exhausting and beneficial for your muscular endurance.

Now that you know some of the best tools and tips to build tremendous endurance, there is nothing to stop you from achieving your goal!

Have you tried some of the tips that we mentioned? Let us know in the comments below which one is your favorite way to build endurance!