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How to Build Bulletproof Endurance (Inside Your Closet)

Build Endurance in the ClosetEver been stuck inside a closet?

The other week I went back home to visit my parents and walked into my old room to find everything missing.

My little sister shifted all the contents to a walk-in closet upstairs.

My room was no longer in existence. It was replaced with shades of purple and an extensive collection of hair products.

As I ventured into the closet upstairs to claim my belongings, I was overwhelmed by the space (not the one pictured above, unfortunately).

My child-like imagination instantly took over.

What if I got stuck in here forever? What if I couldn’t get out? How in the world would I get my workouts done?

Serious questions, I know.

But the entire scenario does bring home a very important point.

It shines light on the fact that it is absolutely possible to build incredible endurance even if you had very little room to work with. With the right tools (and skills) in hand, you can put together workouts to elevate your heart rate and engage your muscles in powerful ways without the need for much real estate.

Pretty crazy concept if you think about it.

It’s refreshing to know that running is not the only option, right?

This post explores this topic. Let’s begin.

Short Story: How I prepared for a 21km Spartan Race without moving

Earlier this year, I completed my very first Spartan Race.

Spartan Beast Ottawa 2014

Spartan Race – check.

For those who haven’t heard about the Spartan race, it’s an obstacle style course roughly 21km in length. Most of the terrain is up and down steep ski slopes and the course is infused with 25+ challenging obstacles.

The run is timed, so the idea is to finish it as quickly as you can.

21km is no joke. That’s just about half a marathon. Only with steep hills. And for a non-runner like myself, it was somewhat intimidating.

The truth is that I absolutely hate running. It bores me death.

I forced myself to do two short (3km) runs before this behemoth of a race just to get my legs ready for the pounding, but even that was a mental struggle. Did I mention I hate running?

So here’s what I did instead…

The majority of my preparation was built around kettlebell, jump rope, and bodyweight training.

95% of my training for the race revolved around activities that only required enough room to fit a small coffee table.

Kind of ironic when you really think about it.

But it worked.

Spartan Beast 2014 Results

My Race Results (click to enlarge)

I managed to finish the race in 4:46 minutes – a full hour and 15 minutes ahead of the average overall time.

Nothing crazy there, but that time put me in the top 20% of all 1387 participants in the race.

Not so bad for someone who hates running.

A Different Approach

My Spartan story isn’t meant to deter you from running.

If you enjoy running, then go for it.

But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s not the only option you have.

Sometimes I’ll be driving in the dead middle of winter and see one or two lunatics running around the block in -25 degree Celsius. I admire the dedication, but the approach is just awful. There are better ways.

There are a number of tools and exercises that allow you to build endurance and aerobic capacity without the need for a lot of real estate.

Tools like the kettlebell, jump rope, barbell, and your own bodyweight offer plenty of exercise options for developing bulletproof endurance.

With these simple tools you are able craft a variety of metabolic conditioning workouts that will elevate your heart rate and engage multiple muscle groups at a time without ever having to leave your designated spot on the floor.

Personally, a good chunk of my workouts revolve around full-body, high repetition, dynamic exercises like kettlebell swings and snatches, heavy jump rope single unders or speed rope double unders, and bodyweight exercises like burpees and mountain climbers.

Here’s an example of a workout I did not too long ago:

Click play to watch the video.

Notice how little space is required for something like this.

I could literally do this workout in my closet if I wanted to. But my mom would probably kill me.

You have access to a wide variety of exercises that can help you build incredible endurance without the need for much space at all. You just have to use your imagination and learn how to maximize your resources.

How to Get Started

There are numerous tools and exercises you can use as you start looking for ways to build endurance in your closet zone.

The following are five of my favorite exercises you can get started with. There are many more, but I’ve had the most success with the following:

  • The jump rope double under
  • The heavy jump rope single under
  • The kettlebell swing
  • The burpee
  • The mountain climber

With these five exercises, you could easily put together some killer workouts in your closet, in your basement, in your living room, or even in your hotel room when you’re traveling.

Let me hook you up with some useful resources to get your started.

Here are some resources to get you started with each of these:

If you’re looking to improve your jump rope technique, then take a look at the free Jump Rope Crash Course I’ve created to help you get the basics down. It covers everything you need to get started and gives you some advanced resources as you develop your skills.

If you’re looking to get started with kettlebell training, check out Kettlebell Ninja. This is the ultimate kettlebell training program for beginners. It will give you everything you need to get started with kettlebells and will help you progress to the more advanced kettlebell exercises like swings, squats, and presses.

If you want to maximize your bodyweight training results, then check out Funk Robert’s 50 Shades of Burpees program. This is an incredible guide that will show you how to get the most from this one single bodyweight exercise.

Quick Summary

The point of this article is rather simple: if you’re looking to build endurance and stamina, running is not the only tool in the toolbox.

You have other options available to you. Options that don’t require much physical space at all.

Simple fitness tools like the kettlebell, jump rope, and even just your own bodyweight give you the opportunity to train without ever having to leave your closet. This gives you the chance to train even when you’re limited by space or weather conditions.

You must learn how to use your imagination and do what you can to maximize your resources.

Colette - October 22, 2014

This is awesome, I hate running too – always though runners are mental lol. I have started boxing conditioning classes and sure enough it’s jump rope, burpees, body weight resistance and kettle bells. No mountain climber but lots of bag punching lol. My endurance has increased tremendously since I started.

    Test - October 24, 2014

    Nice! I think a boxing bag is another great conditioning tool that you can make use of when you don’t have a lot of room to work with.

Michael - October 22, 2014

Hi Srdjan,
I like your article. I took up jump rope about 6 months ago, and its actually improved my endurance base for my, er,….wait for it….running :-).

I do enjoy running, but I am not a big “street runner” anymore. I started trail running close to where I live about 10 years ago and I really love it. Running on trails incorporates a lot of movement variety that is very multidimensional like the exercises you describe above. The jump rope has made me feel much more nimble going over rocks and stuff than I was before. Its very different than one dimensional street running. If you hate running, you should give trail running a chance.

Michael

    Test - October 24, 2014

    Hey Michael, I would have to agree with you – trail running is something else (10 million times better than “street running”). I don’t have many trails around my place, but I have run through forests before and it’s a completely different feeling.

      Michael - October 24, 2014

      Srdjan,
      BTW, you should have mentioned your Jump Rope Ninja course in the resources above as well. I keep going back to it to pick up new techniques to keep the jump rope workouts interesting. Michael

        Test - October 27, 2014

        Thanks Michael. I referenced the crash course so that should be enough to get people started with the rope. Cheers!

Amaryllis - October 22, 2014

Great article – although I do love running (it gives me time to switch off and be antisocial and just let my mind go where it wants) I’m with Michael above – trail running is a whole different animal to road running and it’s a lot easier to keep from being bored when jumping over dead trees and sliding down muddy ditches is part and parcel.
I really do like your focus on achievable, low cost workouts in the time that people have available. As a parent to 3 plus being a full time student with a very small budget, going to the gym would mean missing out family time and cutting back somewhere else that would probably affect the family – I could do it, but it wouldn’t leave me feeling great. And I know I’m not the only person who gets to juggle things like that and make similar choices – being able to and encouraged to work out in any space available,at any time available, and with only the tools available, makes all the difference.

    Test - October 24, 2014

    Glad you enjoyed the article Amaryllis. Yea I think Michael is right too – trail running is a different (more enjoyable) animal. But then again what to do in the winter months? I like to have options that don’t require me to step outside when it’s -25 degrees Celsius 🙂

Jenn C - October 22, 2014

Great article! I enjoy running but can’t do it very often. These kind of workouts (or Zumba) are what keep me in shape when I can’t leave my house and only have a short amount of time 🙂

    Test - October 24, 2014

    Awesome! Zumba works great because it can be used anywhere.

Bryner - January 13, 2015

Thanks so much for this post! I am currently working on using jumping backwards. Really awkward! Just had two questions:

1. I live in Singapore, and have to serve National Service in the Singapore Armed Forces. They require good running times, measuring how fast you can run 1.5 miles. You have mentioned that most people run with bad technique, so is there any way to train for proper technique so that I can still run? Good timings are usually below 10 minutes (some people here can run it in 8min).

2. How long should these closet routines be?

Thank you very much,
Bryner

    Test - January 13, 2015

    Hey Bryner, yes backwards jumping is very awkward. I’ve been practicing it for a while now and I still find it unusual.
    As for your question on running, I can’t give you any concrete advice because I’m not an avid runner myself. I’ll see if I can find some useful resources for you though.
    The routines should be short and effective – 15-20 min total. Intensity is relative.
    Hope that helps!

      Bryner - January 14, 2015

      Hi Srdjan,

      Thanks so much! So for those workouts that you post (like the ’50 strong’) that are only about 5 minutes, what am I supposed to do with them? Repeat them 3-4 times or string them together with some of the other workouts?

      Thank you very much,
      bryner

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