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When it comes to training for sports, especially at the highest level, there is an emphasis on strength and conditioning as well as explosive, functional exercises. Which begs the question, does endurance training even have a place in elite sports?
Of course, it does! As a matter of fact, endurance training occupies a considerably large spot in elite sports.
Naturally, endurance training brings forth a bevy of benefits. One of the most important of these is a healthier body overall, according to the ‘Top 10 Benefits of Endurance Training’ that Life Hack published online. A healthier body is one that is capable of not only performing at apex levels, but also able to withstand the rigors of any sport. For a more sports-specific context, endurance training allows athletes to be on top of their game for sustained periods. Endurance training enables athletes to perform well from start to finish in the case of the truly elite athletes, like Terrence Crawford or Russell Westbrook.
Endurance training requires athletes to perform various aerobic exercises. Men’s Journal explains that this works to help make muscles a lot more efficient. Specifically, aerobic activities like cycling and running train muscles to “wring every last bit of energy from the body’s natural fuel sources.” Athletes are thus able to develop a higher percentage of oxidative muscle fibers that are responsible for producing more energy. In other words, said muscles can make more energy, which leads to fatigue setting in much later. The overall effect is that the athlete is able to perform at a high level for far longer.
That being said, sports science is now giving athletes, coaches, and trainers a more nuanced understanding of endurance training, including concepts such as maximal oxygen uptake (V̇DO2 max), lactate threshold, and training heart rate. The study ‘Is Endurance Training Bad for You?’ published in 2016 even refuted the claim made by a prior study that endurance training could lead to heart damage. Instead, it reinforced the now general consensus that having larger-than-normal hearts is actually a healthy manifestation of how the organ adjusts to regular endurance training. It’s no wonder then that stakeholders in various sports are investing in sports science, with an eye clearly on improving athletic performance. Sports psychologist Bradley Busch was interviewed by Coral, and he noted the huge investments made in sports science in the past 10 years. These have allowed players in the English Premier League to cover more ground, even as matches — some of the best and most intense in the world — drag on for over 96 minutes. Judging by those games, it is safe to say that players in the Premier League are some of the fittest athletes in the world, and endurance training is no doubt part of their regimens, as in the case of Manchester United’s soccer stars.
Moreover, endurance training clears and strengthens the mind, mainly by boosting one’s mood and alleviating stress. It even changes the brain to some extent, helping it improve its ability to retain information and to think things through. These latter benefits are particularly important to elite athletes who often need to process a multitude of information at any given time. A wide receiver like Antonio Brown, for instance, needs to remember his route, assess how the defense is playing him, and adjust on the fly — all in a matter of seconds. Such split-second processing of information is only possible with a sharp, focused mind, which athletes can actually have by routinely performing endurance exercises.
Without a doubt, endurance training has a place in elite sports, but given all this information, another question worth asking would be: What can we learn from all these?
The price of greatness is steep. Anyone who dreams of excelling in their chosen sport will have to put in the work. Of course, that includes the nitty-gritty of endurance training, which can sometimes become a bit of a chore. After all, who likes running suicides for 30–45 minutes every day, right?
But you want to be elite, don’t you? Then it’s time you incorporate endurance training into your fitness regimen. Getting either the Dude Pins-recommended Rogue Sr-1 Bearing Speed Rope or the Concept2 Ski-Erg would be a good start, as they can help get you fit in no time.
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Prepared by Fit&Train18