The Endure EQ Vol. 022 | How to build your aerobic base for endurance gains


Sustainable Endurance Training

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Hello Reader,

Welcome back to The Endure EQ.

The next 4 editions of The Endure EQ are going to dive into each of the major aspects of building your endurance engine.

Together we will dive into each of the major zones, why they are important and give you some workout examples to use in your training.

We will start at the bottom and build it up from there.

How to build your aerobic base for endurance gains

Before diving into this you might want to look back how you can test your fitness and define your zones and what they mean.

Let’s dive in to building your aerobic base.

Why do you even need to think about building your aerobic base?

Building your aerobic base is one of the best ways to ensure sustainable triathlon performance.

Here’s why:

  • Foundation of other zones
  • Basis for general health and fitness
  • Endurance sessions are fun

Let’s go deeper.

Build the foundation for your other zones

The reason this type of training is called your aerobic base is because it serves as the foundation for all other training zones.

Without a strong foundation the rest of the training will not be as impactful.

The main adaptation we are looking for from tempo and easy training is your resistance to fatigue. Ultimately as endurance athletes we want to be able to sustain race pace for as long as possible. This works by increasing the ability of your slow twitch fibres to perform work for longer durations.

Additionally, Tempo training stays below your lactate threshold which limits the need for extra recovery. Which means you can add a ton of it into your program.

Don’t neglect the Z1-2 work in your overall training.

Basis for general health and fitness

Aside from the benefits to your other training zones Z1-2 work also provides incredible general health benefits.

This includes:

  • Management of metabolic conditions
  • Improving mental health
  • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases
  • Prevention of cognitive diseases

As a sustainable athlete use your training not just for race gains but for overall health benefits.

Easy training is the easiest way to maintain and build sustainable endurance fitness.

True endurance sessions are fun

Easy endurance work is fun.

There is no better way to explore your local community on foot, bike or skis.

Because most athletes train too hard. They sometimes miss the enjoyment factor in easy endurance training.

Reset your perceptions and focus on the base work for a little bit.

How to build aerobic fitness?

Here is my simple framework for building aerobic fitness:

Let’s break each one down a little bit more.

Identify zones and easy domain

The first thing you will want to do is test your zones so that you have some benchmarks for where the domains are.

Endurance work includes all the easy and moderate domains of fitness.

There are 2 zones included in this domain: easy training (Z1) and steady training (Z2).

Easy training covers your recovery ride, runs and swims. It’s also your warm-ups and cool-downs.

Your steady, endurance training will be the big driver to develop your base and increase fatigue resistance in the muscles and body.

Anchor with effort

When starting to train in this domain you can use many different metrics to guide effort including pace, power, and HR.

But you should anchor those with your internal metrics and RPE.

  • For easy training we are looking for 1-2 on RPE
  • For endurance we are looking for 3-4 on RPE

You can use this combined with HR, pace and power to determine how hard you are working.

Having an internal gauge makes easy endurance work more enjoyable as you don’t need ‘strict’ zones that you need to maintain.

Ask yourself the question, “how hard am I working?” if under a 4 you are good to go.

Accumulate lots of time

Plan to spend a lot of time training in the moderate domain of fitness.

There is 3 major buckets for this:

  • Daily incidental activity is anything that gets your heart rate up a little bit. It should be fun, super easy and gets the body moving.
  • Focused endurance work is a little more focused around SBR or other endurance activities. You are looking to settle into that pace and stick there.
  • Specific tempo work is not ‘easy’ training. It will require you to focus to sustain the power or pace for this training. These sessions will be looking at long durations of work at race pace.

Each bucket falls into the easy and moderate domains and will ultimately improve your aerobic base.

Resist the urge to spike effort

Tempo and endurance sessions are not typically demanding enough to require a ton of recovery so you can include a lot of it in your training week.

This keeps things sustainable.

But you have to resist the urge to spike your effort just because you feel good during these sessions. Smashing some hills, accelerating or jumping into threshold pace might feel good but it’s not achieving what we want.

You can certainly combine sessions but try to have those as a specific decision not an everyday occurrence with endurance training.

It comes down to the simple idea of “keeping your easy training easy and your hard training hard”.

Workout examples

Here are some key sessions we use at Excel Endurance:

  • EnduranceRun or EnduranceBike
    • 30min-5hours.
    • 5 min warm up/cool-down
    • Settele into your endurance pace for the duration of the session.
    • Avoid spiking pace if you feel good.
  • Swim: Endurance set
    • 400m SKPS
    • 8 x 50 drill
    • 4 x 400m with 20s rest
    • 1 min rest
    • Repeat depending on your current volume
  • TempoRun:
    • 10 min endurance/warm-up
    • 5 min tempo
    • 5 min endurance
    • Repeat 1-5 times
    • 5 min cool-down
  • TempoBike:
    • 30 min endurance/warm-up
    • 20 min tempo
    • 5 min endurance
    • Repeat 1-4 times
    • 10 min cool down


  • Your aerobic base will serve as your overall foundation for health and endurance performance.
  • The best way to improve it is through a ton of easy endurance training.
  • Some sessions include EnduranceBike, EnduranceRun, Endurance Swim set, TempoBike, and TempoRun.

Thank you for being here!

- Chandler

When you’re ready here are 3 ways that Excel Endurance by Chandler Scott can help you:

  • Join our free community: find more resources, ask questions, and share workout ideas. Join Community
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  • 1-1 Coaching: Take your training to the next level with 1-1 access to Chandler. Coaching Request

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Sustainable Endurance Training

Welcome to The Endure EQ by Excel Endurance. Get a short tip for triathlon training, sustainable performance and reaching your personal potential in this weekly newsletter. Join here to get the next volume emailed to you: