How do you work on building endurance? Do you focus solely on cardio? Do you simply push for more mileage each time you train? These habits may be a mistake. Strength training and cross training are also important for building your endurance and protecting yourself from injury. And if you’re new to your sport — whether it’s running, cycling, or another activity — it’s important to work on strengthening your heart without damaging your muscles or joints in the process.

Follow these tips to safely and effectively boost your endurance:

  1. Don’t neglect strength training. When trying to build endurance, people often focus on cardio and forgo strength training. But strong muscles are necessary to power your cardio workouts — plus, they help absorb impact, which can put stress on your joints.
  2. Combine strength and cardio training. Instead of doing strength and cardio on separate days, combine them in the same workout. The more muscles you can involve at one time, the more you’ll strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system. Try doing squats, pull-ups, and then run a mile. Repeat.
  3. Cross train. The repetitive pounding from running can lead to injury. Go on a hard run one day, and switch it up the next day with a bike ride or elliptical workout. The human body also gets used to a workout after two weeks, so switching things up will keep the mind guessing while building endurance. Running in water with a flotation device (“pool running” or “aqua jogging”) is a great way to increase your cardiovascular health without the impact of running or the stress on your joints.
  4. Rest less between sets. If you’re training for endurance, but you typically rest for 30 to 90 seconds in between sets, cut back your recovery time. Do three rounds of exercises, resting as little as possible in between. Your muscles should be burning by the end of your reps. Take a break only if you physically can’t continue.
  5. Choose compound movements that use more than one joint. Exercises in isolation won’t provide enough stimulation to increase your endurance. Instead, choose compound movements, which will also help you move more efficiently. Many classic gym exercise — like pull-ups, lunges, or squats — fall into this category. Choosing hybrid exercises — which combine two separate movements — will also help strengthen the heart and improve stamina.
  6. Train on a variety of terrains. Pavement, trails, hills, stadium stairs — training in different environments will keep your body guessing and also provide additional strength training.
  7. Increase your mileage — but do it slowly. The best way to increase your endurance is to run more miles — but it’s also the most common cause of injuries. Limit your mileage increases to 2 to 4 miles, every other week. It’s okay if your mileage doesn’t increase some weeks — give your body time to adjust.
  8. Determine which exercises provide the most benefits for your body. Everyone’s body is different, and everyone responds to exercises differently. Genetic fitness testing can help determine the ideal combination of endurance training, strength training, and aerobic activity for reaching your health goals.

Vivaliti DNA offers personalized genetic blueprints that provide valuable insight into how your body works — including your ideal matching diet, eating behaviors, food reactions, your body’s response to exercise, and important metabolic health markers. Download a sample report to see how your personalized genetic blueprint can give you more insight into your unique genetic makeup and help you make smarter decisions about your health every day!