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Exceeding Your Limits: Endurance

Updated on April 2, 2013


When answering some questions on question and answer sites I noticed a lot of people do not seem to realize their potential. Some people say they can not lose weight through exercise because they get tired quickly. Other people ask why they are not losing weight when they exercise for 20 minutes 3 days a week. 20 minutes is enough time if you want to make significant changes to your body.

It is easy for me to increase my endurance. I just start an exercise like running on an elliptical trainer and compete with myself. This year I went from being barely able to last 20 minutes to lasting over 2 hours on my elliptical trainer. In late spring I started biking to a provincial park that is 12.5 miles(20 km) away. Recently in the middle of summer I biked to one that was around 37.5 miles(60 km) away.

If you want to increase your endurance pick an exercise like biking, running, jumping rope, swimming, canoeing, kayaking or boxing. Keep a log and try to do a little better each time.

Recovery Time

Your muscles need time to recover but the amount of time you need to rest changes. When you first start an exercise routine you might need to take a few days off before you exercise the same muscles again. When starting a new routine I usually do it once or twice a week to start. After my body starts to adapt I can start doing it more often.

To get in shape I started using my elliptical trainer twice a week and gradually increased to 5 days a week. I always take two days off after exercising for 5 days so my muscles can fully recover. After two days of rest I can perform significantly better. If you do not allow your muscles time to recover they will not get stronger so your endurance will not improve.

You can tell how much rest your body needs by paying attention to your exercise performance and how you feel. I keep track of the distance I went and the time it took when I use my elliptical trainer. Each time I used it I was able to increase my distance or speed. If I was not able to perform as well or if I was in pain it would have meant my muscles did not have time to recover.

Exercise Frequency

Exercising 4 or 5 days a week is a good way to increase your endurance but you may not want to exercise daily. One day a week can be enough. After the provincial parks and beaches open up I try to go for bike rides once a week until the beaches close again. I start by going to the closest park and going to the beach. Then I start biking around the park before I go to the beach. When that becomes easier I start to bike to other places that are farther away.

For years I just biked to the same park until I decided I could increase my endurance enough to go to ones that were a lot farther away. The farthest being 3 times the distance and taking 3 hours instead of 1.

No Pain, No Gain?

You do not need to exhaust yourself or experience pain to make progress. If you allow your body time to adapt you can avoid any serious discomfort. Instead of over doing it pay attention to your body and stop if you are struggling to keep going. If you strain yourself too much you will just need to take more time off to recover.

It is not easy to run on my elliptical trainer or bike for hours and it is tiring but I quit if it is no longer enjoyable. If I have trouble finishing a bike ride or going up a large hill I can walk for a few minutes knowing that it will be easier next time.

Some exercises like running can be hard on your body. I prefer low impact exercises like biking or using an elliptical trainer. For some exercises you may want to use an exercise mat or even a trampoline.



Building your endurance often involves doing the same thing over and over again. So it can be very boring. To make it more interesting I exercise while watching TV if I am exercising inside. I can watch a couple of TV shows or a movie while I use my elliptical trainer for a few hours.

Getting outside around nature can also make the exercise more interesting. I go for bike rides to and around provincial parks. While I am there I also do some hiking and swimming. It is relaxing and it provides me with a lot of good exercise. There are lots of fun activities you can do outside like canoeing, kayaking, running, biking, hiking and playing sports.


Increasing your endurance has a lot of benefits. If you want to lose fat increasing your endurance allows you to burn more and more calories. It can also help you build lean hard muscles. Many activities become easier and more enjoyable. Things that were impossible become doable.

Exceeding your current level of endurance is one of the easiest and fastest things you can do to change your body. Before you notice your muscles getting bigger or a reduction in fat you will notice that you can increase the duration or intensity of the exercises. If you just let the exercises become easier your results will be limited.


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