5 Interval Workouts That’ll Build Up Your Endurance

Endurance is a critical part to the overall training equation, whether you’re the kind of person who loves to tackle a long run come the weekend or you’re more of a WOD fanatic.

“When we typically talk about endurance, a lot of people think of it as aerobic-level training that concerns marathoners or long-distance types,” says Chris Hinshaw, an endurance coach who has worked with 28 different CrossFit Games champions, ranging from Katrin Davidsdottir to Mat Fraser. While yes, endurance is a critical component for anyone hoping to conquer longer sweat sessions, it doesn’t discriminate based on sport. “Regardless of what workout you’re doing, your aerobic system becomes the dominant energy system after three minutes. That’s why endurance is important, no matter what you’re getting after.”


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While science offers some wacky endurance hacks, like keeping your palms cool while training for upped exercise tolerance and reaching for grapes pre-workout for a 21 percent boost in endurance (thanks to resveratrol levels increasing muscle-twitch activation), Hinshaw says increasing endurance really just hinges on smart interval training.

“Someone hoping to increase their stamina needs to train the muscles to create fatigue, then actively clear the fatigue during their recovery.”

Running sprints? Jog during the off-interval instead of slowing down to a slogging walk. Working on that deadlift? Repeat the movement pattern with just the bar or PVC pipe in between sets to increase muscular endurance (as well as memory).


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Here, Hinshaw offers up endurance workouts aimed to target different muscle groups the everyday athlete uses on the regular (read: all of ‘em). Quick to execute—make time to do them all twice weekly, and you may be impressed with your ability to go longer, faster, and harder.

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Workout 1

Directions: Complete 5 rounds with no rest
What it Targets: Quads
Pro Tip: Make sure to keep your elbows up with all your fingers under the bar during your front squat, Hinshaw says. Aim for a full range of motion, getting your glutes as low to the ground as possible for each air squat.

1. Barbell Front Squat
Goal: Aim for 6 reps in 12 seconds
Suggested weight: 135lbs
How to do it:: Start standing behind a barbell with feet at shoulder-width distance. Clean barbell to shoulder rack, raising your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. Toes should be slightly turned out. This is your starting position. Keeping an active core, squat as low as you can, maintaining tension through your legs, sinking your weight in your heels. Press back up to start for one rep.


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2. Air Squat
Goal: Slow, continuous AMRAP for 48 seconds
How to do it:: Stand with feet hip-width apart, palms pressed together at chest. Squat as low as you can, pushing your hips back and keeping your chest high. Push through your heels to stand for one rep.

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Workout 2

Directions: 5 rounds with no rest
What it Targets: Triceps and deltoids
Pro Tip: Make sure to keep your elbows tucked in close to your body during the pushups, and limit arching in your lower back during the floor press, Hinshaw says.

1. Pushup
Goal: Aim for 10+ reps in 12 seconds
How to do it:: Start in a high plank position. Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your torso. Lower your body until your chest is about one inch above the floor. Press yourself back up for one rep.

2. Floor Press w/ PVC Pipe

Goal: Slow, continuous AMRAP for 48 seconds
How to do it:: Roll over onto your back, and reach for a PVC pipe with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width. With your feet flat on the floor, brace your core and press the bar straight up over your torso. Lower done for one rep.

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Workout 3

Directions: 5 rounds with no rest
What it Targets: Deltoids, triceps (primary focus), quads, and hips
Pro Tip: Keep your shoulders over your hips through each rep, and elbows up with all fingers under the bar. Push with legs first, then arms, and complete the elbow lockout on each rep.

1. Barbell Push Press
Goal: Aim for 10 reps in 12 Second
Recommended Weight: 95lbs
How to do it:: Stand with your feet at shoulder-width distance. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it at shoulder height. Keep your elbows up high and your upper arms parallel to the ground. Slightly bend your knees and drop down while keeping your torso upright and avoiding leaning forward. Explosively extend your knees and hips as you drive the barbell overhead and stand up tall. Slowly lower the barbell back to your shoulders for one rep.


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2. Behind Neck Strict Press w/ PVC
Goal: Slow, continuous AMRAP for 48 seconds
How to do it:: Swap the barbell for a PVC. Stand with your feet at shoulder-width distance with the PVC racked behind your head, grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Press the PVC straight up overhead until arms are fully extended, then lower back down for one rep.

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Workout 4

Directions: 5 rounds with no rest
Targets: Hip flexors and abs
Hinshaw says: Make sure to adjust your hollow position to ensure your lower back is in contact with the ground throughout all reps and rounds. During the knees to chest, place your hands under your butt to assist in maintaining consistent movement during the recovery.

1. Tuck Up
Goal: Max effort (AMRAP) for 10 seconds
How to do it: Start on your back. Simultaneously contract your knees up toward your torso as you perform a situp, crunching forward and bringing arms straight toward your ankles. Lower back down to start for one rep.


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2. Hollow Hold
Goal: Hold for 10 seconds
How to do it:: Press your lower back into the ground, fire your core muscles, and lift your arms and legs off the floor. Don’t tense your neck muscles or tuck your chin too far into your chest. Draw your belly button in toward your spine, imagining you’re scooping your stomach in, and tilting your pelvis under.

2. Knee to Chest
Goal: Slow, continuous AMRAP for 40 seconds
How to do it:: Lie down with your hands by your glutes, palms facing down. Press down into the ground with your hands for stability, and slowly bring your legs from straight to tuck toward your torso, all while engaging your core. Return legs back out for one rep.

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Workout 5

Goal: 5 rounds with no rest
What it Targets: Erectors, glutes, hamstrings
Pro Tip: Your goal here is to maintain back tension (so you’re feeling the tension in your mid-back) and maintaining the bar close throughout, Hinshaw says.


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1. Deadlift
Goal: 4 reps in 8 seconds
Weight: 185lbs
How to do it:: Start with your feet about shoulder-width apart, standing behind the barbell. Bend down by pushing your hips back and keeping your chest up. Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Take a deep breath in and keep your core tight as you pull the bar off the ground and push your hips underneath you, squeezing your glutes, to stand up tall. Lower back down for one rep.

2. Pause at Knee
Goal: Hold for 8 seconds
How to do it:: From standing with barbell, engage the core and lower down until barbell is at knee height. Hold.

3. Deadlift (4 reps)
Do: reps in 8 seconds
Weight: 185

4. PVC Good Morning
Do: Remainder of the minute
How to do it:: Swap the barbell for a PVC pipe. Hold PVC pipe in back rack position on traps.. Tighten your abs and bend your hips as far back as possible, lowering your torso until you feel your lower back is about to round. Contract your glutes and push your hips forward to return to the starting position for one rep.

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