Knowledge Base

Endurance training

Endurance training

In training, it generally applies that a higher intensity load leads to the development of strength and, conversely, low-intensity training predominantly contributes to the development of endurance and aerobic capacity, where the heart rate is often used as a training intensity indicator. However, not everyone responds in the same way. According to studies, some people with a certain genetic predisposition can even develop endurance under intense training.

Rest and overtraining syndrome

If you discover that a temporary break in training helps you improve performance to a significant extent, it can mean that you have been overtraining or you are not giving your body enough time to regenerate. To avoid this and to achieve optimal results, try measuring your resting heart rate 2 or 3 times in the morning and monitor it for the next two weeks. With correct training, your resting heart rate should gradually decrease while performance increases. 

However, if you see an increase in your resting heart rate or degradation in performance, it can be caused by illness, injury or overtraining. Try to adjust the training intensity and frequency so that it better corresponds to your current capabilities.

Heart rate

To ensure sufficient oxygen and nutrient intake in the muscles, the heart pumps blood at a certain rate and intensity. The normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A lower heart rate indicates the heart is functioning more efficiently – well-trained endurance athletes can have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. During exertion, when the demand in muscles increases for oxygen and nutrients, the increase in heart rate reaches a certain maximum rate (HRmax) – it is usually between 160 and 220 beats per minute. 

This value is used in training to estimate exercise intensity – for example, low-intensity training is done at a heart rate around 70% of the HRmax. By contrast, with an intense load, the heart rate is around 90% of the HRmax. 

Estimating HRmax – the maximum heart rate

Setting the maximum heart rate is not that easy, because in practice different estimates are often used which are not completely accurate but usually serve their purpose. For an estimate, you can use the following formula:

HRmax = 220 - age

Fatigue in sport

During physical exertion, there is an increase in muscle acidity (i.e. acidosis acidosis), which has an impact on a variety of metabolic processes and results in muscle fatigue, because it reduces the ability of the muscle to obtain energy effectively. Acidosis causes:

- Disruption of glycolysis, i.e. the breaking down of glucose to obtain energy;
- Slowing of the function of myosin (one of the two main proteins responsible for muscle contraction) and thus less muscle contraction; 
- Slowing of calcium ion recycling in the muscle, and therefore worsening regulation of muscle contraction;
- Increasing perceptions of pain.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

Acute muscle soreness at the end of intense training is caused by an accumulation of metabolic waste products and acidosis, with an accumulation of fluid in the muscle that usually disappears between a few minutes and hours after exercising. However, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can also occur, usually 12–72 hours after exercise. DOMS probably occurs as a result of minor tears in the muscle fibres and broken structures of the molecular units of the muscle (sarcomeres) and the subsequent response of the immune system, which, in the natural muscle regeneration process, leads to swelling and increased soreness. 

DOMS is often part of the start of training, but it can also be an indicator of training which is too intense or extensive. DOMS can be avoided through a more gradual training schedule. The results of DOMS can be reduced through massage and some natural products with anti-inflammatory effects, such as saffron extract, turmeric, black tea and garlic.

Baking soda as a dietary supplement

Baking soda is sometimes used by athletes as a dietary supplement. In theory, it can reduce muscle acidity (muscle acidosis) which is responsible for muscle fatigue, but it seems that this effect is more applicable in untrained individuals. The disadvantage of using baking soda is the possible digestive issues that it can cause.

Training the anaerobic threshold

Increasing the value of the anaerobic treshold an important part of endurance exercise, helping you to improve your performance. However, people differ in how quickly their body responds to exercises, with the anaerobic threshold value increasing at a different pace for everyone. The training focused on increasing the anaerobic threshold should be part of all endurance training and should be made up of both low intensity and higher/high-intensity exercises. Their proportions are determined by how your body responds and the sporting discipline involved.

Exercise to increase the anaerobic threshold
  • Moderate aerobic exercise
    • Exercise at approximately 70% of the maximum heart rate (HR max). This should be around 50–70% of your training
  • Exercise at the anaerobic threshold (at the lactate threshold)
    • Exercise at the value of your anaerobic threshold or slightly above (at 80–90% of) the maximum heart rate. This part of your exercise should be around 10–20% of your training.
  • High-intensity exercise
    • Exercise above your anaerobic threshold value – e.g. 2–4 minutes of maximum intensity exercise followed by half the time using active rest. This exercise should be around 10–20% of your training. 
  • Strengthening exercises
    • To increase the anaerobic threshold, you should include strengthening exercises around once a week or twice a week if you leave out high-intensity exercise