I just finished watching the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers finish up a triple overtime hockey game. It struck me how strong these players are. They have superhuman endurance. They literally played 114 minutes of hockey before the game ended. Hockey players work hard during their shifts. They are able to last and last. Watching the third overtime, you would never have known they had played for so long already.
Endurance is an important tool in your arsenal. Yes, I call it a tool because it is something you can use to help push your training to new heights. Any time you can use something to improve I will refer to it as a tool–plain and simple. But just how can you have endurance like a hockey player?
Endurance training has a very specific goal in mind. Quite simply, the goal of endurance training is to develop the energy production system to meet the demands of the event. Now, most of us ignore endurance when we train. Instead, we train to improve our 1 rep max. This is awesome if you are going to need to quickly lift up something heavy, but what if you need to lift the heavy item and hold it in place for a long period of time? That's where endurance comes into play. This is especially important to people who participate in sports.
Baseball athletes need the endurance to swing a bat. They are not given long rest periods in between each swing. Football players explode with maximum intensity for a very short period of time. This requires endurance to last throughout that time period. MMA requires that you last through the entire round, giving your maximum effort for the entire round.
There is a principle called SAID (specific adaptations to imposed demands) that states the body will adjust to the stresses placed specifically on it. For bodybuilders this means that if they train with heavy weights and long rest periods, they will become stronger, but not increase their endurance. So should we train with high reps and lighter weight? Absolutely not! If you want to increase your endurance you must focus on three things in your program: (1) heavy weight; (2) short rest periods; and (3) volume.
By lifting heavy weight you are going to increase your strength. It is a no-brainer. Thus, try to lift as heavy as possible. Shortening your rest periods forces your body to adapt to working at maximal effort while not fully recovered aerobically.This, in turn, generally trains your body to recover more quickly. By pushing up the volume of work and coupling it with the heavy weights and shorter rest periods, your body will improve its endurance as a reaction to the stress you put it under.
If you want to be superhuman like the hockey players I mentioned you must increase both strength and endurance. With those two components in place there is no way you can miss your goals.