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How to Improve Stamina and Endurance

How Long can you Last?

The numerous innuendoes that can be thought of when talking about this topic is obscene yet I will resist as I am sure you are far more mature than I am. So Stamina and endurance what is it? It’s how long your body can exercise at either an anaerobic or aerobic pace. If you noticed, I mention two categories; aerobic (with) and anaerobic (without) oxygen, each of these have different techniques associated with improving your stamina in each of them.

Before you can start to increase your stamina you need to gauge the level at which you are starting from. I recommend for this you use a heart rate monitor if you have access to one, as you need to establish an aerobic fitness zone. It is easy for me to tell you that you need to run for X amount of time at 65% of your heart rate, without measurements you could be pushing yourself too hard so it’s worth investing in one. Here are two I’ve used over the past 3 years and been really happy with.

We then need to see how aerobically fit we are, to do this you need to run 3km as fast as possible without your heartrate going above 65% of it maximum. Your max heart rate is 220 – age, which is the value you then use to calculate 65% and use that value. As you can see without a heart rate monitor you would struggle to achieve this. People with a high aerobic fitness will experience times of 15minutes or less going down to those who are less fit in excess of 35 minutes. From your time you should have a rough indication of how fit you are so you training can be tailored accordingly.

To increase your aerobic fitness you are going to need to perform exercise so that you build up your muscles myoglobin. This is the muscle tissue that binds to oxygen, and is what gives meat a red appearance. The more you have the more efficient the muscle is at respiring giving it a better endurance.

You will also find that your weight will have an effect on how aerobically fit you are. If you can imagine carrying around an extra 10kg of unnecessary weight everywhere you go, it will tire you out faster no matter who you are. So while training and improving stamina it’s important you have the right diet which can be found on my diets page.

Aerobic Stamina Training

For every discipline I am about to list about instead of repeating myself it’s good to note that the more you do it within your 65% heart rate range the more fit you will become.

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
In each you should be setting yourself distance goals, like in the example above, then completing them in the fastest time possible within your 65% heart rate range. You will then see statistical data on how you improve each week and progress with you fitness.
Once you have increased your aerobic fitness you will notice that if you ran as hard as possible nearing your max heart rate you will have an increased fitness level here too. This is because training like this works for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Training for events such as Ironman require you to spend hours at this intensity in order to better yourself and perform above others on race day.
Very simple, nothing fancy, no ground breaking technique just pure exercise within a certain zone. Practice and repetition really does make you perfect.

Anaerobic Fitness

Anaerobic fitness accounts for that last 70-95% of your heart rate range. Noting I don’t suggest training at 100%, this intensity can be dangerous. A good way to test your anaerobic fitness is pushing yourself to 95% of your heart rate either by sprinting, rowing etc then timing how long it takes for your heart rate to relax to your normal resting rate.

The longer it takes obviously the less anaerobically fit you are, my favourite anaerobic fitness training exercise is known as HIT intervals.

It involves you running at a jogging pace, best done on a running track, then every 50m running as hard as you can for 50m then jogging for 50m etc. It’s a test both physically and mentally because the pain you will go through will be quite bad and only the toughest mindsets will complete it to their maximum potential. Initially you might find you can only do 1 or 2 laps but you will soon notice you are able to go for longer and sprint faster, both clear indication of an enhanced aerobic fitness level.

All Round stamina

I came across an alternative technique when I was invited to try out Bikram Yoga, which involves you being in a hot room (40degrees celcius) and performing a range of exercise and stretches, it did get my heart rate going and depending on intensity you can burn up to 1250 calories per hour. You can check it out in detail over on the wikipedia page. Bikram Yoga.

As always train smart and well, and investing in your health is one of the best you can make.

If you have any questions leave them in the comments below and I will get back to you asap.

One comment

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