What are the determinants of endurance performance?


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Whether you are a competitive triathlete, or a recreational runner, you probably wish to improve your performance, and may be wondering what are the factors influencing endurance performance.


Performance in an endurance exercise combines several factors :

  1. The efficacy of your technique
  2. Your power capacity
  3. Your endurance capacity

Efficacy of your technique

Depending on the sport, your morphology, and the specific context of the effort, the optimal technique may greatly vary.

Evidently, the technique for running differs from the one for swimming – if you doubt, you can try to run in a lake, and I can confidently bet that you will understand very quickly (this was a joke, in case you frowned).

Also, the running technique of a 6 foot tall and 150 lbs individual will also certainly differ from the one of an overweight individual.

Finally, running uphill, and running downhill can also require significant technique adaptations. The same can also be true depending if you are pacing at the beginning of a race, fighting an empty fuel tank (bunking), or at the final sprint of a race. Since the topic of this article is not biomechanics, and since there are too many sports and contexts to cover them here, we will go deeper in this subject – but I’m sure you get the point.

Your power capacity

The power capacity is the ability of an individual to produce a high power output for a limited period of time. Although it also depends on morphology and technique, it can differ for the same individual and same technique depending on its muscular strength and power, as well as on its body’s ability to produce an energy burst.

The power capacity is maximal when performing a maximal effort lasting less than 6-15 seconds. THis effort uses mainly the anaerobic alactic system (this system works without oxygen and doesn’t produce lactic acid)

The power capacity is reduced but remains fairly high when performing maximal efforts lasting between 15 seconds and 2 minutes. The anaerobic lactic works without oxygen, produces lactic acid and produces lactate and H+ (which reduces the environment’s pH).

If the effort remains high and lasts more than 2 minutes, then the blood concentration of lactic acid begins to exponentially increase, and the power capacity decreases.

The lactate inflection point (LIP), is the exercise intensity, often expressed as 85% of maximum heart rate or 75% of maximum oxygen intake, at which the intensity cannot be maintained over a long period of time.

Endurance capacity

The endurance is an individual’s capacity to sustain its effort over a long period of time. It is not solely dependant on the accumulation of lactic acid, but rather on the ability of the individual to continue to use available energy, as well as its capacity to support the body and mind fatigue caused by physical and mental stress as well as effort.

How can you optimize these factors

There are several ways you can improve each and everyone of the above. As mentioned earlier, we will not cover the biomechanical aspects, other than telling you that it is certainly worth while watching several videos and reading articles on the matter as well as hiring a competent technical coach.

How to improve power capacity

  1. Perform explosive weight lifting exercises
  2. Eat adequately – provide your body with the necessary water, fuel, EFAs (essential fatty acids), protein and micronutrients
  3. Sleep properly – regular hours, in a dark room. Make sure to avoid coffee for at least 6 hours before bedtime, and remove any source of sleep interference
  4. Stretch (to remove resistance of opposing muscles)
  5. Take supplements that have been proven to increase power, such as Creatine Monohydrate, Betaine, Epicatechin, Ecdysterone, L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC), Caffeine + Theanine, and Puerarin. Note that Leucine when taken post workout can also indirectly increase power by promoting muscle protein synthesis via mTOR anabolic pathway activation.

How to improve endurance capacity

Endurance can either be limited by metabolism, or physical and mental capacity to endure stress.

  1. Improve your metabolism
    1. Perform HIIT (high intensity interval training)
    2. Consume adequate sources and quantities of fuel – blend of sugars and/or saturated fats – depending on diet type (i.e. standard or targeted ketogenic diet, or balanced diet), as well as on event type and duration
    3. Consume sodium bicarbonate as pH buffer. A minimum of 30g is needed for efficiency. However, consuming it all at once can give digestive problems.
    4. Sleep properly – regular hours, in a dark room. Make sure to avoid coffee for at least 6 hours before bedtime, and remove any source of sleep interference
    5. Stretch (to remove resistance of opposing muscles)
    6. Take supplements that have been proven to increase endurance, such as Creatine Monohydrate + Glycerol, Betaine, Synephrine, Isoleucine (intra-workout), and Beta-Alanine or Carnosine.
  2. Improve your physical endurance
    1. Improve your technique to minimize physical damages caused during performance
    2. Regularly perform a long duration training (as they say, put milage on your body once in a while)
  3. Improve your mind
    1. Train your brain
      1. Fatigue your brain before training, to increase the mental stress and get your body used to it
      2. Regularly push your mind to its limits
    2. Learn to meditate while you perform, to disconnect with the pain and fatigue
    3. Be aware that your brain will try to slow you down or stop you before you attain you real limits (this concept has been proposed by Professor Tim Knoakes and Nobel Prize in Physiology winner, Archibald Hill), and train yourself to go beyond this stop.

Pierre Vinet, BSc. Biochemistry, Master Studies Biomechanics

Health & Fitness Professional


About the Author

Pierre Vinet is a Master Trainer who graduated in Biochemistry at Quebec University, and continued post graduate studies in Biomechanics. His fields of expertise include biomechanics, nutrition, exercise physiology, strength training, muscular hypertrophy, fat loss and longevity. to Over the last 40 years, he has trained thousands of individuals, including Professional athletes, as well as personally won the State Championships and was finalist at the National Championships at several occasions in both Bodybuilding and Olympic Taekwondo. For more information, you may visit www.pierrevinet.com, or reach him at pierre.vinet@pierrevinet.com.


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