Stamina has two components: the ability to work out for a long period of time and the capability of pouring out that last burst of energy at the end of a long workout. If you are in tip-top shape, your lungs and heart are functioning like a well-oiled machine, efficiently delivering tons of oxygen-rich blood to your slow-twitch muscle fibers. This efficient oxygen-delivery system is what gives you stamina. While top athletes excel in terms of stamina, anyone can increase their stamina or endurance over time by focusing on workouts that increase the efficiency of the heart and lungs.
Many people choose to get in shape by running because this exercise doesn't involve a lot of expensive equipment -- all you really need are a pair of good jogging shoes. According to the Sparkpeople website, a beginner attempting to build endurance by running would start by warming up at a moderate pace of around 3.5 mph for five minutes. Pick up the pace to about 5 mph for the next four minutes and then give it all you have by jogging at a 6 mph pace for eight minutes. Slow down again to about 5 mph for the next four minutes and then cool down by returning to the 3.5 mph pace for the last five minutes of your workout. Over time, build your endurance by increasing the amount of time you run at about the 6 mph pace.
As your muscles get more accustomed to working out and you get into better shape, you can work on building your speed. If you are using running as a way to build your speed, start by taking a baseline measurement of how fast you can run 400 meters. Divide the time for your baseline by two and subtract one second to get your 200 meter target. If, for example, you ran 400 meters in 30 seconds, your 200 meter target would be 14 seconds. Run your 200 meter sprint as fast as you can, aiming to reach that 14 second target and then jog at a moderate pace for about two minutes to give your body a chance to recover. Repeat this 200 meter interval, followed by another two minutes of moderate-speed jogging. Over time, decrease the amount of time between sprints while increasing your speed during your sprint. Before you know it, you'll be running like the wind.
Strength training for endurance should target your quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, calves, shoulders, upper back, chest, biceps, triceps, lower back, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. The stronger your muscles get, the more stamina you'll have. According to the website fitnesssports, you should plan on at least three strength-training workouts a week if you want to build stamina. Recommended exercises include squats, deadlifts, lunges, heel raises, shoulder shrugs, dumbbell rows, pushups, biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, superman back extensions and good morning lifts.
Remember, “Rome wasn't built in a day.” As you become fit, you'll notice you can exercise longer, and you will be able to pour out more into your workouts, according to the Mayo Clinic. While you should push through discomfort, you should stop exercising if you notice any sharp pains, as continuing to exercise while you are in pain can lead to injury. Injuries will take you away from your workout schedule, and it can be very hard to restart after you are forced to stop. Regardless of the workout you choose, make sure to get ample sleep between workouts, as this is when your body heals and rebuilds itself stronger. Drink plenty of fluids during your workouts to rehydrate yourself. As with all exercise programs, females over the age of 55 or persons with chronic health issues need to get medical clearance before beginning.
- BBC News: Why is Stamina Important?
- MayoClinic.com: Rev up your workout with interval training
- MayoClinic.com: 5K Run: 7-week training schedule for beginners
- Sparkpeople: Running Workouts to Build Endurance
- Fitnesssports.com: Strength Training for Runners
- Exercise Science, Third Edition; Warren Rosenberg and Ciaran Cullen
- CDC.gov: How much physical activity do adults need?
- MayoClinic: Exercise: When to check with your doctor first
- Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 3rd Edition: Human Kinetics; J. H. Wilmore and D.L. Costill
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images