Endurance training often seems pretty straight forward. Many think that whatever your activity is, you simply keep pushing it harder and longer until your endurance eventually improves. While this can work okay, a much better option is to use density training. However, you would want to use a particular type of “double-sided” density training. Doing so gives your endurance training a sort of regulated and organized way of programming your progress.
What Is Density Training?
There are many variations of density training, but the crux of them all is to increase the density of your workouts. You do this by either doing more work in the same amount of time or compressing the same amount of work into a shorter time period. To bolster your endurance training, you’re going to use a sort of spin on each in your program.
Progressing from Both Directions
How you apply this “double-sided density” to your endurance training is going to vary a little depending on what you’re training for specifically. However, say you wanted to improve your endurance during 20-minute cardio sessions. Performing any cardio exercise you like, you can maintain an RPE of 4.0 for the entire 20 minutes. However, your goal is to be able to maintain a 6.0 the entire time.
RPE – stands for rate of perceived exertion. It’s basically a personal measure of how hard you’re working on a scale from 1 to 10.
You’ll actually be performing two types of endurance training workouts to improve your density. Firstly, you’ll do a cardio workout at an RPE of 6.0. You might only be able to maintain the 6.0 for just over 11 minutes (or however long) before you gas out or need a break, and that’s fine. Your goal is to maintain the 6.0 for as long as you can, striving to last longer than you did your last workout. Provided you have sufficient aerobic capability, this will be as much of a mental exercise as it is a physical one.
Your next workout will approach things from the opposite direction. This time you’ll do an entire 20 minutes of cardio, but you’ll be slowly stair-stepping up the RPE. So today, you might only be able to maintain an RPE of 4.0. The next time you do this workout, you might push it to a 4.3, and then a 4.4-4.5 after that.
In the end, your goal is be doing two styles of workout:
Intensity-driven – maintain as high of an intensity for as long as you can, eventually maintaining it for your entire duration.
Duration-driven – work for the entire goal duration, slowly building up the intensity.
What happens when you do this is that you end up sort of “meeting in the middle”. One one hand, you’re increasing how long you can maintain your 6.0 RPE. On the other hand, you’re slowly increasing the RPE you can maintain for 20 minutes. By coming at it from both directions, you’re able to improve your abilities with both density and duration at the same time.
When to Use Each and How Often
How often to do each style of workout will depend on your overall training plan, but 3-4 workouts per week would be good to bolster your endurance training. Alternate back and forth between the two on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday type of schedule.
When you use this sort of “double-sided” density training, you’re giving yourself a leg up on improving your endurance. Not only will you have a much more organized and planned approach, but you’ll be attacking your endurance objectives from two different directions. This will allow to you progress faster as you’re improving your ability not only to maintain a faster pace, but to hold an incrementally faster pace for your desired duration.