Have you ever found yourself winded from climbing the stairs? You're not alone. Whether you're an avid runner or a person who enjoys a long walk once or twice a week, endurance plays a big part in both our daily lives and our fitness routines. To help increase our stamina, we reached out to Ben Wegman, trainer at The Fhitting Room, for his expert opinion on how to build endurance.
Just as the act of working out is important, so too is increasing our stamina. According to Wegman, endurance is a significant part of any physical activity, as it "increases the amount of oxygen in the body, therefore increasing or boosting your ability to perform an exercise for a longer period of time." Be it carrying groceries into the house or running a marathon, endurance activities benefit "every aspect of your life," says the trainer. Here are Wegman's tips on how to build stamina.
1. Add Intervals
"Too often, endurance is sacrificed for simple, heavy strength training or steady-state cardio," says Wegman. To be a well-rounded athlete, he suggests adding endurance work to your everyday fitness routine, as studies show that sessions of sprint interval training increase "muscle oxidative potential" and "endurance capacity." To add intervals to your workouts, Wegman suggests breaking up your cardio routine with a few short stints of sprints.
2. Catch Some Z's
A good night's rest is essential to building endurance, as Wegman says, "Being well rested allows your body to work longer and harder simultaneously." So just what qualifies a good night's sleep? According to a study conducted in 2008, 10 hours of sleep every day for seven weeks resulted in improved athletic performance. While 10 hours may seem like a lot, try increasing your current sleep cycle by an hour, and see if it improves your fitness endurance.
3. Eat A Balanced Diet
According to a study in Nutrition Journal, appropriate nutrition improves athletic performance, conditioning, and the avoidance of injury. So just what is "appropriate nutrition"? According to Wegman, a balanced diet, specifically one with healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain rice and bananas, instead of their more heavily processed counterparts, is essential to increasing fitness endurance. For a breakdown on how to eat healthy, check out these nine commandments for a balanced diet, as told to Byrdie by nutritionists Kelly LeVeque and Elissa Goodman.
4. Don't Stick To A Routine
According to Wegman, "routine is endurance's number one enemy." Instead of growing comfortable with a specific workout like strength training, Wegman suggests changing "your workouts and intervals to consistently challenge your body in new ways." To mix up your regular workout routine, try a program like ClassPass where you can experiment with a variety of workout classes at different studios.
5. Keep An Open Mind
Wegman says that "fitness endurance pushes you beyond your known limits." To challenge your expectations and your body, Wegman suggests being open-minded to new workouts. Get out of your comfort zone and try something like boxing, yoga, or rock climbing, as pushing your limits and setting new goals will not only help increase your physical endurance, but will also "open your mind to other areas in your life where you can go farther or succeed more than expected," says Wegman.
Burgomaster KA, Hughes SC, Heigenhauser GJ, Bradwell SN, Gibala MJ. Six sessions of sprint interval training increases muscle oxidative potential and cycle endurance capacity in humans. J Appl Physiol. 2005;98(6):1985-90. doi10.1152/japplphysiol.01095.2004
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Ongoing Study Continues to Show That Extra Sleep Improves Athletic Performance. Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers, 4 June 2008.
Aoi W, Naito Y, Yoshikawa T. Exercise and functional foods. Nutr J. 2006;5:15. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-5-15