Tips to help improve your cardiovascular endurance

If you regularly work out and lift weights but find yourself out of breath halfway through, it may be time to switch up your exercise routine and focus on building your cardiovascular endurance. Nobody likes to feel out of breath when exercising and if you enjoy working out then it can remain a barrier to hitting your fitness goals.

But there are lots of ways to improve this such as circuit classes, running and even climbing the stairs in your apartment block rather than jumping in the lift. Here we outline our thoughts on how to improve your cardio.

Step up your activity 

You are not going to build up your cardio endurance by only working out at the gym and doing nothing else. Look at adding in some extra activity alongside your gym sessions on your training days, but also when you are having a rest day. Any activity you do will start to build your cardio endurance and the more you do and the more you increase the intensity of it, the more you gain improved endurance.

It could start as a simple 5K walk, keeping a pace as you do it and maybe adding in a hill every so often. When you are ready for more work, add in some jogging, running and even sprinting over a short distance. Cycling, rowing and even power yoga can all be added into the mix to help with your cardio. NHS England suggests that adults undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. To really improve your cardio endurance, look at trying to build up to double this guideline to help with your activity levels and training.

Push yourself

You’ll find that you will get more satisfaction when exercising if you set a goal and push yourself to achieve it. Going for a 5K run but going at a slow pace, isn’t a bad thing, but it also isn’t going to get you any results. Your heart and lungs need to be pushed so they can adapt to pressure and grow stronger. Whatever exercise you are doing, make sure that it gets your heart rate up, is a little bit of a challenge and makes you sweat. If you are going for a run, set a time limit that you have to finish it in.  Slowly shorten the time over the next few weeks, so you become faster and learn to breathe quicker – this will slowly help build that endurance.

Interval training 

Interval training is a great way to push your exercise up a gear. Plus, it involves you performing a certain exercise at speed for a short amount of time – which keeps you focused. A form of interval training can be where you push yourself on a specific exercise such as running for a minute, followed by 20 seconds of rest before repeating again. These alternating periods allow the heart rate to go up and go down as you exercise and then rest. If you do an interval training class, your other classmates will spur you on as it is a great energetic environment to be in. Going flat out for a few seconds then returning to your normal pace can really benefit your cardio endurance.

Circuit training

This is a great way to not only improve your endurance but also to develop and test your muscle and cardiovascular strength. This kind of exercise is tough and fun. It has been growing in popularity due mainly to the CrossFit movement and it has you moving between one exercise to the next against the clock. For example, you could do some box jumps for a period of time, before moving on to thrusters, lunges and power cleans. This is then followed by a short rest before you go again for a few more sets. Because it is in a class environment, despite it being tough, there is a feeling of let’s all get through this together which helps you to keep going.

Shock your body

You may excel in a particular exercise, such as cycling for example, but you are not going to do your body any favours by only cycling. It is important for cardio endurance and indeed strength to change your exercise up a bit and test the body, so you and your exercise routine doesn’t simply stagnate. Find new ways to challenge your body and throw other exercises in alongside your favourite workout.

Have a goal

Maybe you want to lift heavier, achieve a half marathon, be faster than your friend in your circuit class? Whatever it may be, having a goal will help you stay focused and enjoy exercising even more. It is always a good rule of thumb to write your numbers down at the beginning of each month – how heavy you have lifted, how fast have you run 5K and keep updating them throughout the month. At the end of the month, you can look back and give yourself a pat on the back celebrating how far you’ve come.