Power and endurance go hand in hand with just about any physical activity.
Power helps you run faster, lift more, punch harder, jump higher, or whatever your aim is. Endurance or stamina helps you do it for longer or for more reps.
Many people only have one. They can lift a big weight, but finishing a set is hard. Or they can run a long way, but at a low pace.
If you want to reach your full potential physically, you need to have both.
For this reason, your workout routine should focus on building power and endurance in tandem. This will help you reach your fitness goals faster, as well as making you feel better about your physical condition in everyday life.
If you want to hit peak performance, follow these tips when you train to hit your ideal level of power and endurance.
Do Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebells are no longer a new, trendy thing in fitness. They’ve been around a while, and any gym you set foot in, you should find a good collection of differently weighted kettlebells.
That means there’s no excuse not to use kettlebells and enjoy the benefits they give you, particularly when it comes to explosive power.
Some kettlebell exercises can be confusing, but the foundation of all kettlebell drills, the kettlebell swing, could not be simpler. In addition, swings are one of the best ways to develop power, while simultaneously improving endurance.
The basic kettlebell swing develops the entire posterior chain, from the calves to hamstrings, glutes, lower back and lats, as well as working the core. These muscle groups are essential for functional movement and strength, which is what makes kettlebells so good for athletes.
High-rep kettlebell swings also deliver an intense cardio workout, building endurance and stamina. Focus on pushing out one or two more reps each time, and you’ll see a big improvement in how long you can maintain your power output.
Interval training gets a lot of hype these days, but there’s still room for steady-state cardio for building endurance.
Steady-state cardio means training at a steady, continuous pace for an extended period of time. Instead of stopping and starting, or pushing yourself to the max, you should maintain a moderate pace, enough to make you work but not so you’re working at 100% capacity.
An example might be a 45-minute session on the treadmill, keeping a consistent pace without stopping over the entire 45 minutes. Stationary bikes are also great for steady-state cardio.
These types of cardio workouts are perfect for building endurance, as they train your body to be able to constantly put out power over a long period of time.
Many people will also find it easier to stick to several sessions of steady-state cardio a week, as recovery is generally easier than higher-intensity workouts.
For the best results with steady-state cardio, you’ll want to keep pushing yourself harder.
Focus on small increases in speed and/or distance, for example. You can also increase resistance, such as incline level if you’re on the treadmill, which is good if you also want to maintain power.
If you want to measure your cardiovascular improvements periodically, a Vo2 Max test is a measure of how efficiently your lungs utilise oxygen during exercise.
Today, the importance of proper hydration is pretty widely known, but a lot of people still don’t rehydrate as they should. And if you’re not getting enough hydration before, during or after your workout, you won’t see the results you want.
Hydration doesn’t just mean you need to drink water. Water is part of it, but when we sweat, we lose electrolytes, and these lost electrolytes have to be replaced.
Electrolytes are certain minerals, such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are responsible for a lot of bodily functions, including proper muscle function and fluid balance.
Sweat contains a lot of these minerals (as does urine), so it’s important to drink or eat something high in electrolytes, so that those lost are adequately replaced.
The easiest way to replenish electrolytes during a workout is a sports hydration drink like Nakedade.
Hydration is particularly important when it comes to training endurance, as the length of your workout is often longer, meaning you sweat more and lose more electrolytes.
Eat Enough Carbs
Low carb diets are trendy, and can certainly help with weight loss. But if you want to train hard, these diets may not be the best option.
Carbohydrates provide the fuel you need to work out at a high intensity, for a long time. When we eat carbs, they get broken down into glucose, which is used to provide energy to the body, in particular the muscles.
If you don’t get enough carbs, you won’t get the energy you need to sustain your workout, and in some cases the body may even start breaking down muscle cells to produce energy, which is not ideal if you want to maintain (or improve) strength and power.
If you find you have trouble performing at your peak or making progress in your workouts, try increasing carb intake. Just make sure you focus on carbohydrates from healthy sources, such as fruits, whole grains and potatoes, rather than from processed foods and artificial sugars.
Mushrooms - yes, mushrooms - may be the key to helping you push further and improve endurance.
Cordyceps mushrooms have a number of medicinal benefits, including improving athletic performance.
Several studies have shown encouraging effects from these types of mushrooms, when used to support high intensity and aerobic exercise. As a result of cordyceps supplementation, participants in these studies saw increases in VO2 max, tolerance to high intensity exercise, and better performance in altitude training .
If you want the benefits of these mushrooms, you don’t need to go out in a field and pick them yourself. There are a number of supplements out there that include functional mushrooms such as cordyceps, usually in a powder you can add to your protein shakes, or in a special blend of coffee.
Power and endurance are, more or less, the two halves of athletic performance. Most of us neglect at least one side, without realizing the benefits that one can have for the other.
If you’re focused on endurance training, improving power will help you perform at a higher intensity or a higher pace. While for those focused on power, such as weightlifters, endurance will help you perform for longer, and achieve a greater overall power output as a result.
Any of the points we’ve outlined above may bring significant improvements to your fitness levels and athletic performance.
Try adding some kettlebell swings or steady-state cardio to your routine where you can, and improve your nutrition pre and post-workout with proper hydration, adequate carb intake, and supplementation with functional cordyceps mushrooms.