How To Build Endurance In Your Brain & Body


Key Takeaways

  • Endurance exercise enhances the ability of the brain and body to work for longer periods of time

  • High intensity and long duration endurance training improves brain function by oxygenating the brain and delivering more nutrients to neurons

  • “The reason we quit is rarely because our body quits; our mind quits.” – Dr. Andrew Huberman

  • Five main drivers of effort in the body: neurons, muscle, heart, blood, and lungs

  • The source of energy in the body depends on the duration of activity – if you hit a wall, try increasing the pace to tap into other fuel sources

  • Endurance training seems to improve brain function more than strength or hypertrophy training

  • Muscular endurance training protocol: 3-5 sets of 12-100 repetitions (but 12-25 is reasonable for most people) with a rest period between 30-180 seconds

  • For muscular endurance, try isometric holds, compound exercise, kettlebell swings – but no eccentric loading

  • Long duration endurance training protocol: one set of anything longer than 12 minutes

  • Anaerobic HIIT endurance protocol: 3-12 sets with a ratio of work to rest at 3:1 (e.g., 30 seconds work: 10 seconds rest) – or – a ratio of 1:5 (e.g., 20 seconds hard work: 100 seconds rest)

  • Aerobic HIIT endurance protocol: 3-12 sets with 3:1 ratio (e.g., 30 seconds work: 10 seconds rest) – or 1:1 ratio (e.g., 30 seconds work: 30 seconds rest)

Biology Of Endurance & Energy In Brain And Body

  • To maintain or increase muscle: perform 5 sets of resistance training per muscle, per week

  • Endurance: ability to engage in continuous bouts of exercise, movement, or effort

  • Endurance involves biological crossover relating to how our body and brain use fuels, and which fuels our body and the brain uses

  • We convert almost anything to ATP (energy for the body) within cells

  • You need energy and oxygen to endure brain (e.g., studying or cognitive function) and body (e.g., exercise)

  • Body and brain function better if we have good energy utilization

What Allows Us To Engage In Effort?

  • Five main drivers of effort: (1) neurons/nerves; (2) muscle; (3) blood; (4) heart; (5) lungs

  • Quitting is mental, not physical – there’s a class of neurons that release excess epinephrine (readiness signal) until glia shuts the system down

  • Quitting is 100% neural

  • Unless you are completely ketogenic and fat-adapted, neurons need glucose and electrolytes for energy and fuel

  • Sources of energy in the body in the presence of oxygen:

  • Short bursts: Phosphocreatine (found in the body)

  • Mid-range: Glucose (carbohydrate in the blood)

  • Long-range: Glycogen (stored fuel from the liver)

  • Fats stored in adipose tissue release fatty acids for energy converted to ATP


  • The heart moves blood and oxygen for fuel of muscles and the brain

Endurance Type 1: Muscular Endurance

  • Muscular endurance: refers to the ability of muscles to perform work overtime; failure to continue is due to muscular fatigue (e.g., performing pushups or plank until can no longer continue)

  • Muscular endurance training protocol: 3-5 sets of 12-100 repetitions (but 12-25 is reasonable for most people) with a rest period between 30-180 seconds


  • Muscular endurance relies on nerves and muscles (not blood, heart, lungs)

  • Being able to perform the same movement repeatedly will enhance performance

  • A major component of muscular endurance: no eccentric loading (want eccentric to be light and fast)

  • Movements for muscular endurance: isometric holds, compound exercises, kettlebell swings – don’t use Olympic lifts to build muscular endurance

  • Benefits of muscular endurance: increasing muscular endurance builds the ability of mitochondria to use oxygen to generate energy

  • Can be combined with strict hypertrophy or strength training but be mindful that most people need 1-2 full days of rest

Endurance Type 2: Long Duration Endurance

  • Long duration endurance: long run, swim, bike ride lasting 12 minutes – 8-9 hours

  • Less than 100% of maximum oxygen intake (VO2 max)

  • Builds on fuel utilization in muscles, the activity of neurons in the brain to engage in regular motion

  • Long duration endurance training protocol: one set of anything longer than 12 minutes (not counting steps, pulls on the rower, etc.)


  • Relies on regular repeated effort and ability to maintain the efficiency of movement

  • The goal of training is to build mitochondrial density to be able to repeat while burning less fuel and becoming more efficient

  • Strike a balance between the generation of muscular requirement and fuel utilization

  • Uses glycogen for slow-twitch muscles to contract

  • Causes of failure: mental stamina (i.e., you are dreading the run and burning energy just ruminating) or improper fueling

  • Benefits of long duration endurance: build capillary beds within the muscle, increases mitochondria, increases the delivery of oxygen to muscles

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) For Endurance: Anaerobic

  • Anaerobic HIIT endurance protocol: 3-12 sets with a ratio of work to rest at 3:1 (e.g., 30 seconds work: 10 seconds rest) – or – a ratio of 1:5 (e.g., 20 seconds hard work: 100 seconds rest)

  • Work: rest ratio depends on the desired quality of movement – for example, you can go all out a bike safer so can work longer and rest shorter; if using a barbell or kettlebells you can perform more quality reps overtime working shorter and resting longer


  • Muscles generate a high output of work in the short term

  • Takes breathing and system beyond 100% of VO2 max

  • Build up the number of sets overtime to increase anaerobic endurance

  • Reps performed at any speed with good, safe form

  • Causes of failure in anaerobic endurance: fatigue of oxygen utilization systems

  • Benefits of anaerobic endurance: increase capillary beds, increase the ability of neurons to access more energy, build capacity to engage short bursts of intense work

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) For Endurance: Aerobic

  • Aerobic HIIT endurance protocol: 3-12 sets with a 3:1 ratio (e.g., 30 seconds work: 10 seconds rest) – or 1:1 ratio (e.g., 30 seconds work: 30 seconds rest)

  • Work periods should be 8-12 minutes and done 2-3 times per week


  • 1:1 ratio improves most of the energy systems (nerve, muscle, blood, heart, lungs)

  • Benefits of aerobic endurance: builds up energy utilization systems, improves ATP and mitochondrial function, improves oxygen utilization of muscles and brain, enhances lung capacity

Improvements In Brain Function

  • Brain and heart are the most important systems to take care of

  • Breathing hard with high heart rate: blood circulates faster, oxygen utilization in muscles go up, capillary beds expand, the blood returned to the heart causes eccentric loading of cardiac muscle (improving stroke volume and work capacity)

  • An increase in the vasculature that comes from endurance training improves brain function in better ways than strength and hypertrophy training

Breathing

  • Breathe to bring oxygen into our system and remove carbon dioxide

  • The ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles and brain is important to generate muscular effort and think

  • Two main sources of air for the body: (1) nasal breathing and (2) mouth breathing

  • In general, nasal breathing is more efficient and better for us and scrubs the air of bacteria and viruses

  • For long-duration work try all nasal breathing; as you increase intensity you will need to incorporate mouth

  • Mouth breathing is less efficient and makes us more prone to infection – but it can be helpful to exhale through the mouth with an all-out effort

  • Other sources of respiration: (1) ribs and (2) diaphragm

  • Warm-up intercostal muscles (breathe deeply, expanding chest) before exercise can help breathe deeper and deliver more oxygen, increasing efficiency

  • Side ache that happens during exercise sometimes can be relieved by doing a few rounds of double inhale-exhale: two quick breaths in and longer exhale

Tips & Tools

  • When you hit the wall: increase speed to shift muscles to access different fuel source – note, this won’t work if you are completely depleted of glycogen and stores

  • Remember, neurons need water and electrolytes to fire

  • We lose 1-5 pounds of water per hour which can impact mental capacity and physical performance

  • Start exercise hydrated (with electrolytes, not just water)

  • The formula for hydration: bodyweight (in pounds) /30 = ounces of fluid you should drink every 15 minutes

  • An ice bath can improve mitochondrial density and respiration

  • Wait 6-24 hours between workouts, rest 1-2 full days

  • Optimize sleep for performance and recovery

  • Take 5-10 minutes after exercise to focus on breathing or lie down and mellow out after training to assist in recovery

  • Where you place vision allows you to generate more effort

  • You can intermittently focus attention on landmark you want to run (bike, swim, etc.) to – but use wisely – if you do this mile after mile, you will be more mentally fatigued

  • Caffeine & stimulants will improve energy and power output

  • Magnesium malate can reduce soreness

  • Beet powder and juices increase vasodilation


 

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All