Exercises that can be performed for a long duration, such as running, cycling, swimming, or other aerobic activities, are the types of workouts most commonly acknowledged as endurance workouts. Endurance refers to the ability to keep performing an activity, in this case an exercise, for a prolonged period of time. Typical endurance workouts are less geared toward weight loss or muscle building as other workouts might be, and more aimed at improving the strength of the cardiovascular system, which increases the length of time one can perform an activity.
One of the most common examples of an endurance athlete is a long distance runner training for a marathon. Cardiovascular endurance is one of the largest factors that affects how long and how far that long distance runner can run. The cardiovascular system needs to be able to supply his or her body with a steady supply of energy during the race. To train for the marathon, the runner might not only run for practice, but also cycle, swim, and do other types of cross-training exercises to ensure that his or her respiratory and circulatory systems are in top condition.
Sometimes, endurance workouts are also meant to include the types of exercises that improve muscular endurance instead of cardiovascular endurance. Muscular endurance allows the muscles to repeatedly perform the same action against the same amount of resistance for an extended period of time. Marathon runners, triathlon athletes, cross country skiers, or any other endurance athlete will need to develop extraordinary muscular endurance as well as cardiovascular endurance. Muscular endurance workouts should be the same activity the athlete is training for in order to train the muscles to perform the required action for an extended period of time. For example, even if a marathon runner is using cross-training to strengthen the heart and lungs, he or she must run long enough distances frequently enough that the muscles are prepared and will not become fatigued during the marathon.
A second important component of muscular endurance is strength training. While not technically an endurance workout, strength training such as weight lifting will greatly improve muscular endurance. Detailed strength training workouts can be tailored to fit an individual goal, whether the goal is running or biking long distances, repetitive bursts of strength like those needed for tennis or martial arts, or anything else. Ideally, an athlete should include all aspects of these exercises into his or her endurance workout routine. The same marathon runner might cross-train for cardiovascular endurance and run and lift weights for muscular endurance.