Building your stamina, whether it’s for an upcoming race or a personal goal, takes time and consistency. General exercise guidelines recommend that you engage in 30 or more minutes of moderate intensity physical activity about five days a week, combined with a few days of resistance training or weight lifting. The key to maintaining this kind of routine is variety! Not only does it keep things interesting for you, but it can also improve your speed and endurance to switch up your exercises.
The ideal intensity is about 70-85% of your max heart rate (max heart rate is roughly 220 minus your age), although older individuals, those with pain or those just beginning to work out should start at a lower intensity.
The two main areas where you’ll want to increase your stamina are in endurance (think running or cycling) and strength (weight lifting).
- Initially focus on volume – when you get to about 20 miles per week of running, increase your distance by 10% per week.
- Then focus on increasing your pace with mild rises in distance per week.
- For daily strength development, lift about 40-60% of your max weight, or the heaviest weight that you can lift.
- To up the intensity, increase the weight to close to your max.
- Rest – give yourself at least one rest day in between workouts. You can alternate days so you give each muscle group a day’s rest, such as doing upper body one day and lower body the next.
- Try multiple ways – increase the weight, increase the repetitions, decrease the rest period between low weight exercises. Increase your rest periods for near max weight lifting.
For all athletes, focus on slow increases to help prevent injury.
An integral part of increasing stamina and overall health is nutrition and hydration. A loss of 1% body weight due to dehydration can slow your pace by 2%. Before a competition, consume a carbohydrate-rich diet for two to three days, but avoid carbs 60-90 minutes before the competition begins. Unless the race will last longer than one hour, carb intake right before a race will decrease your ability to use glycogen stores and your performance will suffer. Three to four hours before a race you should eat something low fat but high in protein.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health has an exceptional network of sports medicine specialists and other related healthcare providers dedicated to educating athletes and other individuals about injury prevention, as well as providing the treatment they need when injuries are sustained.
Dr. Shane Hudnall is a primary care sports medicine specialist practicing at Cone Health Sports Medicine Department at MedCenter High Point. Dr. Hudnall is a 2007 graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in family medicine at Cone Health Family Medicine Center and completed his fellowship in sports medicine at Cone Health.