Updated: Apr 1, 2020
We’re going to talk about endurance here today. But before we get into what exactly endurance is, we need to understand something. There’s two different KINDS of endurance.
That’s right, endurance could mean one of TWO things.
There’s muscular endurance, and there’s cardiovascular endurance. Today, we’re going to talk about what each one is, how they’re different, and why it’s important to know that difference.
If I say, “My endurance sucks!” Then you probably assume I’m talking about cardiovascular endurance, or just plain “cardio” as we usually refer to it. Cardiovascular endurance means my HEART is doing the work (cardio means heart, and vascular means blood, i.e. my heart is working). The limiting factor is going to be oxygenated blood being delivered to my muscles. If I run out of stamina while doing a cardio endurance exercise, such as running a long distance, it’s because oxygen isn't being delivered to my muscles fast enough. Either my heart couldn’t keep up, my lungs couldn’t keep up, or blood couldn’t flow fast enough. My CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM held me back. NOT THE MUSCLES THEMSELVES.
Muscular endurance is quite different. My muscles are the primary workers, not my heart. The load I’m lifting is heavier, and I’m using a different energy source. That’s the key here, when I’m working muscular endurance I’m NOT using oxygen for energy. Instead, my body is converting stored carbohydrates into energy. There’s a certain chemical reaction inside my body that gives me strength to keep going. The biggest thing here though is there is a LIMIT. Eventually my body runs out of that stored carbohydrate and either I start using oxygen for energy, or I have to put that load down.
If I’m doing as many push ups as I can in a row, there’s a point where my arms are just BURNING, and I can’t keep going on. There’s a limit to how many I can do, and that limit is based on how strong my arms are over a long period of time. If I’m running though I can keep going for a good amount of time. Depending on your pace, a person can run straight for a few hours even. Your legs aren’t burning (not that bad at least), and it’s all about your breathing.
See the difference? Muscular endurance is all about how long your MUSCLES can keep going, cardiovascular endurance is all about how long you can keep delivering oxygen to those muscles. I can do cardio exercises for a lot longer than I can do a muscle endurance exercise.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS?
With us being stuck at home there’s a good chance we can’t pick up anything as heavy as we want. Most of us don’t have free weights and barbells laying around. We’re getting creative, and we’re getting a good amount of resistance as best we can. But let’s be realistic, we’re going to be focusing on endurance a little bit more than usual. Armed with this info it’s up to you to be working the RIGHT KIND of endurance when you should be! Just getting your heart rate up is going to work your cardiovascular system. Your cardio is going to get better from ANY camp! That muscular endurance we need to focus and make sure we’re doing exercises RIGHT and WITH ENOUGH RESISTANCE. Resistance is key here. If I’m not loading my muscles they never get a chance to get stronger. If I go through this entire quarantine with only working my cardiovascular system, I’m going to get back to the gym much weaker than when I left it. Think about it! If I’m just body weight squatting instead of picking up that weighted backpack I’m working my MUSCLES much less than if I were to add some resistance! It’s up to YOU to make sure that YOU’RE still getting STRONGER EVERY DAY!