Your stamina is one of the most important elements of your personal fitness. While strength allows you to do more, stamina basically allows you to do it for longer. All exercises will increase your endurance to some degree, but a few are tailor-made for the purpose.
- Tempo Run
Characterised by runners as ‘comfortably hard’, a tempo run means running the first third of your distance slowly, the second at ‘threshold pace’, and the final at slow once again. Threshold pace refers to your lactic threshold. This is defined as the fastest speed at which you can run without generating more lactic acid than your body can convert back into energy. Running at this pace will be challenging, but just manageable, and you’ll increase your endurance remarkably.
Intervals can be done with all cardio exercises, and involve pushing yourself at close to your maximum level of endurance for a certain amount of time – usually a minute – before resting or moving considerably slower for the same amount of time. Your body gets used to going harder than it could manage for longer periods, then adapts to improve stamina.
- HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
This is a more extreme version of interval training. Instead of giving equal attention to effort and rest, you perform as hard as you can for several minutes, then take 30 seconds or so of rest before repeating. While effective, it’s only something you should try if you’re already in good shape.
- Resistance Training
Lifting weights is often seen as more to do with strength than stamina, but it can actually help with both areas of fitness. The trick is to lift enough weight to make yourself experience muscular fatigue within 8 to 15 repetitions, instead of the five or so repetitions which are part of a strength-focused routine.
Circuits tend to be a favourite of boot camps such as Prestige Boot Camp and No1 Boot Camp. They involve using several stations – usually around 8 to 12 – which incorporate a range of resistance and cardiovascular machines. Your body doesn’t get a break, but your individual muscle groups do, so you build overall stamina even without having to pause all the time.
Working on your stamina will mean stronger circulation, greater energy levels, and better overall health, so make sure you mix one of these exercises into your weekly routine.