When you’re training, it’s often your body that gives up before your intentions. You set off with a goal in mind, and you’re certain that you can achieve it, only you come up short. You might find yourself mid-exercise class when all of a sudden 60 minutes seems a heck of a lot longer than it was at the start. The problem is of course your stamina – the ability to keep going, and going when everything else would suggest that you stop. So if you’re training for a distance race, or you simply want to ensure that you get the most out of each and every class (and finish them inside the gym), then read on. Here we look at 5 hacks to build your stamina, helping you turn ambition into reality and letting you smash through the finish line with something left in the tank. So don’t quit now, you’ve only just started reading!
For true fitness, it is crucial to build endurance. It allows you to train harder for longer, thus giving you better results quicker. It may seem like a difficult thing to achieve, but then when it comes to health and fitness, nothing comes easy, but all of your efforts will be rewarded! So here are some basics to give you an edge…
Carbs & Coffee
Most of you probably start the day with a cup of coffee, and indeed some of you will not start even functioning until you’ve had at least two! What you probably didn’t realise is that your caffeine intake will also boost your stamina. If you “caffeinate” up to 60 minutes before you work out then you are likely to receive an endurance boost in the gym. What that means is that your training can last longer and the results gained will be more significant. All of these little extras will add up over time. So whilst it is not suggested that you have a calorific cream filled frozen latte before the gym, a little shot will go a long way.
Like coffee, you’ll also need carbs. This is where you need to look beyond the hype. Carbs are not your enemy. Complex-carbs, from a natural source, will give you added energy that is released more slowly over a longer period of time. You won’t get that sudden spike in energy that comes from refined sugars, but more importantly, you won’t be suffering the immediate slump thereafter. Think of eating before you go to the gym to fuel your workout, in the same way that you would fill your car before a drive. You need fuel too!
Between sets of exercises you’ll probably be giving yourself intervals of rest. This of course is correct, the body needs time to recover before repeating. In order to build your stamina, there is no need to remove the rest periods altogether, just reduce the length of time between sets. Resting less means that your muscles will have to work more within the same time period and your body will adapt by boosting your endurance. If you’re wondering how much progress you’ve made, start keeping a diary of interval times to see how long you are needing between sets. If you do it right, you’ll see a reduction over time to where you can almost just keep going right through.
A great way to boost your levels is to combine exercises. Think mixing strength training into your cardio and vice versa. You’ll hit more muscles at the same time and your endurance will skyrocket.
If you’re struggling to get passed a certain point, then listen to some music. The rhythm will help you pace the workout correctly and, because you’ll be “distracted”, the workout will seem to last less time and appear easier. Pick the right tracks though, something upbeat and moving, not melancholic angst!
The fifth and final element is you. Endurance is mental as much as it is physical. If you document your progress you’ll see the gains and this will keep you going. It will also highlight any plateaus that you reach and help you get through them. You might want to buy yourself some great new gear to inspire you to work even harder still; it is amazing how feeling better about yourself can also boost your output. Most of all though you need to remind yourself why you’re doing it.
If it were easy, everyone would be fit, healthy and slim. It isn’t and so they aren’t. You however can achieve your goals and boost your stamina and now you know exactly how to do just that – so get started, and keep going!