What would you improve if you could only improve one aspect of your fitness? You're probably thinking about trying to improve your strength, endurance, or speed, which are all worthwhile goals to strive for.
However, there is one underappreciated fitness factor that combines multiple fitness components into one: stamina. Consider working to improve stamina if you want to get the most bang for your fitness buck.
What Is Stamina?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, stamina is defined as “the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.” In practice, this means that having good stamina allows you to:
- Run at a faster pace for longer distances.
- Increase the number of reps by lifting heavier weights.
- Take longer, more difficult hikes.
- Push through the sensations of pain, discomfort, and exhaustion.
- Carry out daily activities with vigour.
The more stamina you have, the more efficient you will become at almost everything, both mentally and physically.
How to Improve Your Stamina
The key idea here is to push yourself. If you want to improve your stamina (or any other aspect of your fitness), you must adhere to the “principle of progressive overload,” a physiological rule that explains how the body grows stronger, faster, and fitter.
Something must be altered, whether it is frequency, intensity, volume, weight, distance, speed, or rest intervals.
For example, if you can barbell squat 10 reps at 100 pounds, try 12 reps at 100 pounds or 10 reps at 105 pounds. Small changes like this add up to big gains over time.
Here are some ways to mix up your workout routine and improve your stamina.
1. Take long walks.
Simply moving your body for long periods of time is a simple way to improve your stamina. Long walks of 30 to 60 minutes are an excellent way to build endurance, especially for beginners. Even advanced exercisers can benefit from long-distance walking's stamina-boosting effects if they increase the speed and intensity.
2. Add running intervals.
If you don't think walking is enough to improve your stamina, try incorporating some running intervals into your walk. Interval training has been shown to be one of the most effective methods for improving overall fitness, at least in terms of time efficiency.
Add a 30-second sprint every three or four minutes to your next walk.
3. Increase your running time or distance.
For stamina, go the extra mile. Because stamina is a combination of endurance, speed, and strength, try running at your usual pace for a minute longer. When you've mastered that, add another minute. Your stamina should continue to improve in this manner for some time, though everyone has limitations in terms of how far and fast they can run.
4. Include high-volume weightlifting.
Volume is the number one variable in resistance training that improves fitness, according to studies.3 Volume refers to the total load you lift in a given session, day, or week. It is calculated by multiplying the weight by the number of reps.
For example, if you do three sets of ten squats at 100 pounds, multiply three by ten by 100 to get your total volume. The total weight is approximately 3,000 pounds. In general, increasing your volume on a regular basis is beneficial to your fitness.
5. Perform isometric exercises.
Isometric exercise is any exercise in which muscles fibre but do not stretch or contract4. Isometric exercises include things like planks and wall-sits. Incorporating isometric exercises into your fitness routine can teach your muscles to hold a stressed position for longer periods of time.
6. Replace cycling with rowing.
If you're already a regular cyclist, you might want to add rowing to your workout routine. Rowing has long been thought to be a more effective workout than cycling by scientists.
Rowing engages more muscle groups in a more intense manner. Rowing appears to improve cardiovascular capacity more than cycling, so the next time you have the chance to hop on an erg, take advantage of it!
7. Engage in sports.
Again, reorganizing your workout routine may albeit counterintuitively, improve your stamina and fitness. Most sports necessitate complex skill sets that are likely to be outside of your comfort zone. If you're used to lifting weights, running, or other relatively monotonous movements, substituting a sports game for one workout per week is a great way to hone other physical skills.
Depending on the position you play, a soccer game may require sprinting, jogging, walking, cutting, kicking, dodging, and even throwing. The combination of these various movements is a fun and challenging way to improve your stamina.
Remember how we said the term “stamina” refers to both physical and mental endeavours? This is where the tidbit of knowledge comes in. Including mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga in your overall wellness routine may help you maintain your mental stamina.
If you're used to fast-paced, engaging workouts, mindfulness practices will test your ability to push through perceived boredom and deal with stress, two factors that influence how long you can exercise at a near-maximal level.
9. Listen to music.
Everyone knows that a good song can get you pumped up for a workout. Music brings people joy and energy, and this is true even when they are exercising. Listening to upbeat music during your workout may improve your performance in a variety of ways, including reducing fatigue perception, distracting you from the strain of your workout, and making exercise feel easier.
10. Rest and Recover.
Finally, make sure you include recovery days in your workout schedule. Contrary to popular belief, it is the repair and rebuild phase that improves your fitness, not the act of exercising itself. If you do an intense workout every day, your body never has a chance to recover, and thus never has a chance to repair your muscles. Rest days are critical to your long-term progress.