Methods For Delaying Fatigue and Increasing Endurance During Strength Training

Training with my man Stefon, captain of the Stride Wounded Warriors Sled Hockey Team.

Training with my man Stefon, captain of the Stride Wounded Warriors Sled Hockey Team.

If you’re an athlete, chances are you’ve had the crippling feeling of soreness that develops after an extreme bout (or bouts) of resistance training. It’s a feeling that makes you want to avoid the gym, ice, court, or field for a few days to let your body play catch up. A few years back, during the summer before my junior year competing on the men’s ice hockey team at Umass-Boston, I upped my training intensity in attempt to put on some mass, increase my overall power output, and get faster for my senior year. Unfortunately, what I found was that I needed more time to recover after each lift, fatigued more easily and failed to make the strength and power gains that I expected. I was still conditioning 2-3 times per week, so I couldn't figure out why this would be. So, rather than get discouraged, I put on my pre-med hat and turned to the best book I could find, “Essentials of Strength and Conditioning” by Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle (if you’re interested in anything in the sports performance world, this book is a must-have!).

What I found was simple, but is a technique that I think many serious athletes, crossfitters, and the general population fail to benefit from. As I mentioned above, I was conditioning 2-3 times per week. HOWEVER, most of these conditioning bouts were short, rapid sprints that I was very comfortable doing (I had been training for 8 years at this point, so I had become comfortable with certain training modalities). To put it in more scientific terms, I wasn’t challenging my anaerobic capacity and as such, I was failing to improve the buffering capacity of my muscles, resulting in more soreness and greater fatigue. The famous “lactic acid” was staying elevated in my blood and preventing me from making the gains I had hoped for.

So, I worked with our trainer to come up with a more comprehensive approach to build up my buffering capacity, increase my time to fatigue, and decrease muscle soreness. Rather than just doing sprints, I started doing longer high-intensity bouts of exercise on the Air Assault Bike and Row Ergometer. While brutal, I saw DRAMATIC increases in my anaerobic strength, power, and overall fitness. Now, it’s important to know that using intervals and sprints aren't beneficial for improving buffering capacity unless you get into a certain HR zone or % of your VO2 max. The moral of the story is our bodies need to be pushed in order to get stronger, faster and more resilient. This can be a bit difficult to figure out and get started, so I’ve attached some suggestions below.

  1. Easy HR MAX calculation- 220-age.

  2. Determine what 80-85% of your HR MAX is.

  3. Choose your method of punishment (treadmill, rower, bike, ropes)

  4. Set interval times that are consistent with your level of fitness.

I use this technique even now to maximize my workouts. Currently, I’m doing fairly heavy strength work 3-4 days per week, usually MWTF. On the other days, I will either do a cycling class (which implements this concept of high intensity intervals, or hit the Row Ergometer for a battle session. Here’s one of my favorites:

  • Row for 45 seconds

  • Rest for 30 seconds

  • Row for 30 seconds

  • Rest for 45 seconds

  • Row for 1 min

  • Rest for 1 min

  • Row for 30 seconds

  • Rest for 1 min

  • Row for 1 min

  • Rest for 30 seconds

Hope this technique works for you! Let me know!

Albee