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Ultra marathon over 84 km as an example of aerobic endurance exercise (Brazil 2011)

Endurance describes the organism's resistance to fatigue and the ability to regenerate quickly after exercise (especially with regard to sporting activities ).


Endurance describes the motor skill, a certain intensity (for example, the running speed) over the longest possible period maintained to be able, without prematurely physically or mentally tiring, and to regenerate as quickly as possible. With better endurance, a higher intensity is possible right from the start and the available energy can be used more efficiently. Athletic technique and the ability to concentrate (e.g. during stoppage time) can also be stabilized over a longer period of time.

The endurance is next to power , speed , coordination and on joint flexibility and extensibility based mobility a fundamental motor ability is. Every single sport requires and trains these basic skills to varying degrees. Typical endurance sports are: long-distance running , cycling , cross-country skiing , triathlon , long-distance swimming , rowing and orienteering .


Energy supply

→ See energy supply

The processes of energy supply are responsible for the physiological resistance to fatigue and the replenishment of energy stores during recovery. Depending on the type of energy supply, a distinction can be made between different types of endurance.

Aerobic endurance

In long stages of the Tour de France, aerobic endurance is particularly important.

Aerobic endurance is the ability of the organism to provide the energy necessary to maintain a certain intensity of exertion (e.g. running speed) largely through oxidation with oxygen (therefore aerobic). With a corresponding increase in the intensity of exercise (e.g. running speed), so much energy is required that the oxygen available through breathing is no longer sufficient to cover the increased energy requirement. In this case the body is forced to gain part of the energy it needs without oxygen (hence anaerobic). The so-called specific maximum oxygen uptake (VO 2 max) can be used as a measure of aerobic endurance . It indicates how many milliliters of oxygen the organism can process in one minute per kilogram of body weight. Aerobic endurance training leads to a number of other adaptive reactions of the body in particular to an enlargement of the heart muscle . However, a thickened heart muscle alone can not explain the increased stroke volume , but can under certain circumstances be a sign of disease ( cardiomegaly ). The physiologically effective performance adjustment, on the other hand, consists of several components. This increases the volume of the heart chamber, the thickness of the heart muscle and the formation of the coronary vessels . The sum of these adjustments means that a larger amount of blood is expelled per heartbeat , which is equivalent to a higher amount of oxygen that is transported to the muscles by the red blood cells . This also explains why endurance training lowers the resting heart rate: For the same performance , i.e. the same amount of oxygen to be transported by the blood, the heart has to beat less often, as a higher volume of blood can be expelled per heartbeat .

Anaerobic endurance

Anaerobic endurance is of great importance in 15 km of cross-country skiing .

If the oxygen supply is inadequate due to a high level of exercise intensity, the energy is provided by entering into an oxygen debt. In this case it is called anaerobic endurance. In order to still be able to produce enough ATP for muscle work, antioxidative processes ( glycolysis ) are necessary. This creates lactic acid , which was previously held responsible for the famous sore muscles (but small cracks in the muscle fibers have now been identified as the cause).

Size of the muscles used

General perseverance

For loads that require more than 1/6 of the entire skeletal muscles . ( Running , cycling , biathlon , swimming ).

Local perseverance

For partial body loads that include about 1/7 to 1/6 of the entire skeletal muscles (arm work when boxing ). The anaerobic endurance can, however, also be defined in the sense of block training as the sum of the various local endurance. KAATSU training (in Japanese the abbreviation for “resistance training combined with blood flow impairment”), which was initially developed in Japan, makes use of this principle. Using a blood pressure measuring cuff makes the local removal of the fatigue substances more difficult, which means that anaerobic training can be carried out faster and more effectively. Despite initial fears, this training has no negative side effects and is now mainly used by seniors and untrained people to increase their performance more quickly.

Type of muscle contraction

→ See muscle contraction


The muscles do movement work ( speed skating ).


The muscles do holding work and constant tension ( archery ).

Duration of exposure

Surname Duration Energy supply Disciplines
Short-term endurance (KZA) 35 sec. up to 2 min. anaerobic 80% or anaerobic lactic 50% 200-meter run to 800-meter run , 100-meter swim
Medium endurance (MZA) 2 min. To 10 min. Aerobic / anaerobic 1000-meter run to 3000-meter run , cross-country skiing sprint , rowing
Long-term endurance 1 (LZA1) 10 - 35 min. Aerobic 5000 meter run , 1500 meter swim, 15 km cross-country skiing
Long-term endurance 2 (LZA2) 35 - 90 min. Aerobic 10,000-meter run , cross -country run , mountain bike cross-country
Long-term endurance 3 (LZA3) 90 min. - 6 hours Aerobic Half marathon , marathon , walking , stage race , mountain bike marathon , triathlon (Olympic distance) , 30–50 km cross-country skiing
Long-term endurance 4 (LZA4) from 6 hours Aerobic Ironman , ultra-marathon , 24-hour run , 24-hour race

Motor skills

The types of endurance shown here formally must always be viewed against the background of the sport to be practiced. A particular type of endurance can never be viewed in isolation, but is directly related to the other types of endurance. General aerobic endurance plays a key role here, as it is the basis for the development of all other types of endurance. Every 100-meter runner completes a few cross-country skiing units as part of his advanced training in order to create the optimal basis for developing his target skills (strength, speed).

The term endurance in sporting activities is commonly associated with typical endurance sports such as long-distance running, cycling, cross-country skiing, walking, swimming, triathlon, rowing, etc. In relation to the subdivisions of endurance made by the training theory, this is referred to as general (whole body load), cyclical, aerobic endurance.

Speed ​​endurance

→ see speed

Strength endurance

→ see strength endurance

Factors limiting performance

In general, a performance limit can be defined by the fact that the stressed muscles are no longer able to provide the performance required for a certain load intensity, i.e. they tire. Endurance performance therefore depends on the physiological processes that trigger muscle fatigue. It is not yet fully understood how large the share of different processes in endurance performance is. The following factors, among others, come into question:

The vascular capacity in the muscles could use about four times the amount of blood supplied by the heart. In the case of regional and global endurance loads, the transport capacity of the cardiovascular system is therefore performance-limiting. However, the maximum flow rate in the vessels does not say anything about the efficiency of the oxygen supply to the muscles, which can be increased with increased capillarization.

The lungs also have great power reserves. Apart from possible fatigue of the respiratory muscles, it is therefore usually not a performance-limiting factor.

Endurance training

Different training methods are described under endurance training .

Physical adaptation

Endurance training leads to a large number of adjustments to the performance-limiting factors and thus to a shift in the parameters that can be measured in performance diagnostics, such as B. the aerobic-anaerobic threshold .

The trained endurance athlete is not characterized by particularly strong skeletal muscles , but by an efficient cardiovascular system ( sports heart ) and a well-developed, sport- specific, local muscular endurance capacity . This puts him in a position to provide its muscles with sufficient amounts of oxygen to a lot not only in the short term performance to provide ( aerobic energy supply). In order to achieve this, longer-lasting training is necessary compared to other sports. Likewise, it takes longer than in other sports for a newcomer to reach a competitive level because the adjustment processes are slow. Endurance performance can still be achieved at an advanced age, since endurance performance, in contrast to (rapid) strength, only decreases relatively slowly with age. Former professional cyclist Vyacheslav Yekimov took part in the Tour de France for the last time when he was 40 years old .

Statistically speaking, those who run regularly are healthier and live longer. A 21-year follow-up of around 300 runners and controls showed that the number of deaths in the group of runners was lower than in the control group. After considering several factors, the difference was 40 percent.

Performance diagnostics

→ See performance diagnostics

Endurance sports

The term endurance sport summarizes sports in which the difficulty is in maintaining a (further) movement over a long period of time, in contrast to sports in which the main focus is on speed (e.g. sprints ), great strength over a very short time (e.g. weightlifting ) or skill matters.

There are three different sport groups in terms of endurance:

  1. The pure endurance sports are based on endurance. This sport group is inconceivable without perseverance. This includes, for example, the marathon. Endurance is the crucial component of performance.
  2. Furthermore, there are sports such as soccer or handball, which are also influenced by endurance, but to a lesser extent, i.e. not primarily determined by this property.
  3. Thirdly, there are sports like the shot put in which endurance plays a subordinate to unimportant role.

Typical endurance sports

Hiking is an endurance sport with low intensity but high volume.


Competitions in endurance sports often last for several hours; their end is typically not determined by the elapse of a period of time, but by covering a certain distance. Extreme endurance competitions can drag on for days or weeks of almost uninterrupted exertion (e.g. the Race Across America cycling race ).


Since endurance competitions are generally not won through better technique, but mainly through pure physical performance, the use of performance-enhancing substances ( doping ) such as EPO is probably widespread. Since anabolic steroids not only have a muscle-building effect, but also have an anti-catabolic effect in lower doses and thus enable a higher training volume without significant muscle soreness, anabolic steroids can also be found in competitive sports. Nandrolone (as with Dieter Baumann or Marco Pantani ) is one of them.

Perseverance in the military

Persistence is in military contexts (eg wars.) An important factor - among others in motion wars (see also forced march ) in position wars or grave wars , with wars in extreme climatic conditions (eg. The Winter War , Battle of Stalingrad ). In his famous reports on the Gallic War to the Senate (58 to 51/50 BC) and in his book De bello Gallico, the Roman general Gaius Iulius Caesar repeatedly praised his successful strategy of marching his units into the rear of the enemy to have led. The successful warfare of Alexander the Great is also largely attributed to the fact that he expected his soldiers to move troops quickly, surprising for the enemy and requiring great perseverance.

See also


  • Fritz Zintl: Endurance training . blv, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-8354-0555-4 .
  • Andreas Hohmann, Martin Lames, Manfred Letzelter: Introduction to training science . Limpert, Wiebelsheim, Hunsrück 2010, ISBN 978-3-7853-1812-6 .
  • Günter Schnabel (ed.): Training theory - training science . Meyer & Meyer, Aachen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89899-631-0 .
  • Antje Hüter-Becker, Mechthild Dölken: Biomechanics, kinetics, performance physiology, training theory . Thieme, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-13-136862-1 .

Web links

Portal: Sports Science  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Sports Science
Wiktionary: Persistence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Andreas Hohmann; Martin Lames; Manfred Letzelter: Introduction to Training Science . Limpert, Wiebelsheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-7853-1725-9 , pp. 50 .
  2. Arnd Krüger : KAATSU training. In: competitive sport. 41 (2011) 5, pp. 38-41.
  3. JP Loenneke, RS Thiebaud, T. Abe: Does blood flow restriction result in skeletal muscle damage? A critical review of available evidence. In: Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Mar 20. doi: 10.1111 / sms.12210 . [Epub ahead of print]
  4. Michael E. Tschakovsky, Kyra E. Pyke: Cardiovascular responses to exercise and limitations to human performance. P. 5.
  5. Eliza F. Chakravarty, Helen B. Hubert, Vijaya B. Lingala, James F. Fries: Reduced Disability and Mortality Among Aging Runners, A 21-Year Longitudinal Study. In: Arch Int Med . 168, 2008, 1638.
  6. Arnd Krüger : The Nandrolone Plague: Increasing Number of Findings Thanks to New Measurement Technology? (No longer available online.) Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 20, 1999, archived from the original on January 15, 2015 ; Retrieved September 18, 2014 .