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Energy Vs Cardiovascular Endurance & Strength

There are many types of training within the world of Health & Fitness, but for the sake of this article we’re going to focus on two of the most popular – cardio and strength training. They are two of the post common forms of training used, especially when trying to enhance sporting performance.

What is often overlooked when it comes to training, however, is energy.


Before we go any further it’s important to define what we are talking about. In simple terms:

Strength = a muscles ability to apply force, commonly measured by how much weight a person can lift.

Cardiovascular Endurance = the hearts ability to supply enough oxygen to muscles during physical activity for a specific (often prolonged) period of time.

Energy = the capacity of a physical system to perform work.

Looking at the definitions we can see that energy and strength/cardiovascular endurance are linked. If we want a muscle to lift up a weight we must have the energy to do so and the same would apply if we want our heart to supply oxygen to the body for a prolonged period. It is because of this link that people often forget about making sure they build up a supply of energy.

People assume, and rightly so, that if I am getting stronger or developing more endurance, then I must have more energy. What they wrongly assume is that just because they had the energy to do something once, they will automatically be able to do it again.

There are many examples of this, but one of the best in the sporting world comes from combat sports. Fighters are often extremely focused on cardiovascular endurance. No one wants to run out of cardio, especially in a contest where the other person is trying to cause you physical harm. This often results in a fighter practicing with sparing sessions which are longer than the actual event they are participating in, e.g. training with 5×5 minute rounds for a contest which will be 3×5 minute rounds. This, to some degree, makes sense as if a fighter can compete for 25 minutes, a 15 minute fight should feel easy. Why then, do so many fighters seem to gas out and lose a fight because they seemingly didn’t have enough endurance?

Tired fighter

It doesn’t appear to make any sense and often the preparation of the athlete is brought into question, even though their coaches and team mates have seen them train for longer fights, do long distance runs and all sorts of other training methods. So what happened?

There are obviously numerous answers, but more often than not, it’s a case that they didn’t show up with enough energy. Lots of different things occur the week of competition. A fighter has to make weight and the nerves begin to set in, especially the day of the fight. If the competitor hasn’t tapered the training sufficiently to recuperate the energy they spent in training, and/or hasn’t been focused on cultivating enough energy before the fight, then although they are more than capable of doing 15 minutes of fighting, come the big day they only have enough energy to show 5 minutes worth of their capabilities.

There are so many other examples of this:

  • Not getting any results from gym training, because a person is spending all their energy in the gym and on other lifestyle factors and has none left for the recovery process, which is where the body makes it’s changes.
  • An established marathon runner having to stop the race early, even when they know they are capable of running 26 miles.

So what do we do about it?

The main thing to keep in your mind is that even though you have trained to be able to do something, this doesn’t mean you’ll able to demonstrate it at will. You have to possess enough energy otherwise something you’ve done a thousand times will all of a sudden become impossible.

Here are our top 5 recommendations for keeping your energy tank topped up:

  1. Staying Hydrated.
  2. Getting the right Rest:Work ratio. This means getting enough rest compared to the amount of work you are doing so that the body can recover to a level that was better than before. Your focus should be getting enough sleep compared to the amount you are training.
  3. Eating high quality, nutritious food.
  4. Using other recovery techniques. Sometimes sleep isn’t enough to recover from the strain you are putting on your body. Massage, stretching and mobility exercises are all great techniques for enhancing recovery.
  5. Remembering that we don’t just get fatigued physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi and zone exercises can all help to recover you on a mental and emotional level. Also never forget the importance of just having some fun each day!

Having enough strength and endurance to perform your chosen activity is obviously very important, but if you don’t have enough energy to demonstrate your skills when it matters then all your training will have been for nothing. Walk around with as much energy as you can and show the world just how much all your hard work in the gym is paying off!

Live Healthy,

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