By Vanessa Voltolina
Whether you’re training for a marathon or chasing a toddler around the house, there are plenty of reasons to want more stamina. Often referred to as endurance, stamina is your ability to sustain a physical or mental effort for a long period of time. If you've been experiencing a personal energy crisis lately (outside of dealing with your utility bills), developing your endurance might be just the thing for recovering your zing.
Try these five not-so-obvious ways to boost stamina now.
1. Reduce Recovery Time And Resistance
To build muscle endurance, limit your recovery time between sets to 30 to 90 seconds. Want to kick things up a notch? Take the recovery time -- and the weight -- down a notch. Less resistance, more repetitions and resting for 30 seconds or less between exercises is optimal for building stamina, a 2006 article in the Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research concluded. In other words, embrace those circuit workouts!
2. Maintain Balance
Cutting your recovery time and pushing yourself during a workout are great steps toward having more stamina, but don't forget that your body still deserves some R&R. “You want to train hard, but if you end up training hard every day, you might find that the intensity you put out gets lower and lower,” says Erica Giovinazzo, registered dietitian and CrossFit coach at Brick New York. If you find your marathon gym sessions are adversely affecting your performance, take it easy for a day. “Rest, go for a light run, bike ride, swim or take a yoga class instead of going all out,” suggests Giovinazzo.
3. Ratchet Up Intensity
"There is a time and a place for keeping a steady pace, but if you really want to increase stamina, then increase the intensity," advises Giovinazzo. To accomplish that, she recommends doing short intervals at a sprint pace. "[It] could be running, rowing, biking or doing other kinds of exercises -- such as burpees, squats or even push-ups," she says. "Whatever [you do], you’ll know you’ve increased the intensity when you're out of breath and feel that good burning sensation in whatever muscles are being worked."
4. Remember 'Frequency + Duration'
Feeling the burn after an intense (but short) bout of burpees is a sign you're working your muscles. But hey, don’t forget the other two components that comprise the stamina-building trifecta: frequency and duration. Make sure you’re not only going all-out one day per week, but that you're meeting the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation, which includes doing three to five workouts weekly (each for 20-plus minutes).
5. Think: Mind Over Matter
Another important way to increase your stamina is to use the power of your mind. "Our minds are the key to either pushing our bodies or stopping short," says Giovinazzo. "If we want to increase stamina, we have to be willing to push the envelope. [And] to do that, we need willingness and determination."