If you catch yourself huffing and puffing 15 minutes into a workout, that probably means you are low on stamina. But that does not mean you lack physical strength. Stamina is not about how much you can do, but how long you can do it for. In simple terms, it is about endurance.
Stamina is very activity specific. So, if you want to be a long-distance runner, the workout you have to do will be very different from the routine needed for swimming. Each activity requires the strength of different muscles and, therefore, the training required will differ as well; which is why stamina cannot be generalized. However, there are a couple of common rules one can use to create an effective endurance routine.
Contrary to popular belief, building stamina is not about long workout sessions in the gym alone. It has to be done through a judicious mix of focused exercise routines and careful eating. The process takes time. Just like any other form of training, stamina building is a long and tedious process. Results won’t be achieved within a couple of days. A workout such as this calls for consistency.
So, how do you build stamina?
Here are some tips and tricks that could help. Incorporate the following points into your workout and you should have a well-balanced and effective routine. Other than the tips given below you will have to supplement your endurance workout with an activity specific workout.
1. Shorter Intervals
Reduce your rest time to get your body into the groove. By shortening your breaks your body starts to become aware of the levels it needs to climb to. If you do one set of crunches and one set of leg lifts, make sure you don’t take a break of for more than a minute between them. If your usual break is of a minute, start by decreasing it to 45 seconds. Once you’re comfortable with that, reduce to half a minute and then keep shortening the interval time. Push yourself! Maybe the first time you reduce your break time you will fumble a bit. Don’t let that get you down. Work at your body and really push yourself. The aim is to work in as many exercises into a particular time period as is possible. By lessening your rest time you are teaching your muscles to work more efficiently for longer periods of time as opposed to them working in short spurts.
2. Mix it up
Although it is mentioned above that your stamina is not dependent on your strength, stamina minus strength holds no good. A person may have strength but no stamina, but a person with stamina will have strength. Just doing endurance exercises (such as long distance running or cycling) for a session will not help you in reaching your goal. You must mix in strength building exercises, too. Without any strength training, your body will begin to lose muscle tissue. For example, along with long distance running do some weights and strength building exercises.
3. Dynamic workouts
Your aim during your workout should be to make your entire body move. Stamina and endurance are all about your whole body being ready for a certain exercise or activity. The way stamina will increase is if your whole body gets a workout. Introduce items into your sets which utilize your entire body such as squats with weights. Isolated movements such as weight lifting will only strengthen a particular part of your body. Pull-ups, push-ups, squats, are all ways of making your whole body move. You can take your training outside the gym. If you enjoy dancing, go for it! Maybe you like swimming or rowing. All these activities are great ways of exercising your whole body because they move different muscles. You won’t even notice the muscles that are active during a simple act of dancing. Most people think that dancing is just part-time enjoyment and, hence, don’t pay much attention to it. However, it is able to work wonders for body building and body coordination.
4. Surprise your body
Once you’ve been able to make a workout tailored to your requirements try adding in some exercises that require sudden bursts of energy. Maybe you want to add in a pull-up which begins with a jump, or, push-ups with claps in between. If you are training for long distance running, add in a quick sprint at the end of your run. Just adding in variations such as these will train your muscles for an array of movements. By doing so you are keeping your body active and ready for anything. Your body is ready for spontaneous movements and, therefore, won’t get injured easily either.
Another point to note is about repetition. Don’t fall into a cycle of a single routine. Try to make multiple sets that you can use in rotation. Making your body do the same sets everyday makes the body fall into a monotone. Surprise your body! Mix up the sets, the number of each set or even try introducing something new every month. Following routine makes the body follow only one task. By redoing the same routine the body gets excellent at that one routine and will only be excellent at that one routine. A new addition will tire you out faster than you will expect.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking more water between sets makes the muscles work better. To increase stamina the body needs to stay hydrated. Dehydrated muscles are of no use. Water acts as a reenergizer for tired muscles. Make sure that you keep taking sips of water between your sets so that the muscles can get the best out of each workout you do.
6. Making the right choices
Along with your workouts, increasing stamina requires better decision making. When given a choice of an escalator or a lift, make sure you choose the stairs. Simple changes like standing and working, or walking around when on a call will help keep your body active. If you’ve been sitting at your laptop for a couple of hours, get up, stretch, go for a walk and sit back down, or preferably stand. Keeping an active life will do wonders for your stamina and for your general health.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BE EATING?
7. Protein: Protein in the form of chicken, fish and lentils are best for building stamina. Protein, unlike fat, is easier to burn and thus gives you energy faster and more effectively.
8. Iron: A diet with lots of iron packed into it gives instant energy. Green leafy vegetables and nuts are great ways of getting iron into your system. Beetroots are also good for this. Between meals if you get hungry keep a bag of nuts to snack on.
9. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the best for providing the body with energy. Make sure you eat your rice and pasta, but make sure you burn it off as well.
10. Vitamin C: foods rich in Vitamin C should be added to your meals whether they are citrus fruits or beetroots.
Other than these larger food groups, particular items work well, too. Pomegranate helps in reducing muscle soreness. After a good workout have a bowl of pomegranate to refresh your muscles. Surprisingly, peanut butter is a great food to improve your focus since it is rich in Omega-3. The potassium in bananas and pickles are great as pre or post workout snacks. Non-dairy products are also very good for stamina building such as soya milk instead of normal milk, tofu instead of paneer. For an effective stamina building session some sacrifices must be made. However, one must provide oneself with cheat days for sure. But make sure every day doesn’t become a cheat day!
Also try to eat multiple small meals in a day. By doing so you are giving your body adequate time to digest all the food consumed and also gather the nutrients required. When you eat food after long periods the body becomes so hungry that whatever food enters the system is stored as fat for the fear of starvation.
If your body is tired there is no way that it will listen to any type of exercise that you do. You can feed it what you like, however healthy, the body will not show results if you don’t get enough rest. A regular sleep schedule is essential for the advancement of any bodily process and stamina is one of them.
Before you sleep do some stretches. Not only does it help your body but also facilitates better sleep. Wake up the next morning, do some stretches and start your day again.
The best way to supplement all of this is with friends! Grab some of your friends to join you because they will help you push your limits. Set goals, get some friends, make a well-rounded work out and eat healthy and your stamina will increase!