Are you training for a marathon, but worried you won’t have the stamina to make it to the finish line? (Or maybe you just want to make it through a spin class without almost passing out.) When you’re working on your fitness, building endurance will allow you to train harder, and for longer. Boosting your endurance might seem like a daunting task, but there are a few easy ways to start improving your stamina right away. Whether you’re prepping for a race or simply want to add some mileage to your workouts, try these unexpected tricks to hack your endurance.
If you’re anything like us, coffee is the only thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. But caffeine has also been proven to help athletes train better. In a clinical study for the Public Library of Science, trained triathletes drank caffeinated beverages an hour before they exercised. Compared to athletes who pregamed their workout with decaf, the caffeinated athletes had significantly more power. So grab a cup of coffee on your way to the gym, and you’ll be at your most energetic when you hit the treadmill. As if you need another reason to drink coffee.
The path to endurance isn’t quick – but if you cut down your recovery time during workouts, you can build your stamina quicker. For instance, if you’re doing sets of barbell squats and you normally rest for a minute between each set, shorten that recovery time by 10 seconds. Next time, cut down another 10 seconds. And then another. (You get where we’re going with this.) With less rest, your muscles are learning how to work hard for longer periods of time. Soon you’ll be flying through sets without taking a breather.
Healthy carbs are key to keeping up your stamina during a long workout. If you’re running in a race, or about to have a long and intense workout, make sure you’ve eaten a healthy serving of complex carbohydrates before you go. Whole grain pasta, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and beans are all good, slow-burning carbs to munch on. Complex carbs provide your body with the energy you need to fuel your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends eating a pre-exercise meal of 300-600 calories, most of which should be carbohydrates.
Listening to music while you work out is super beneficial for multiple reasons. For one, it just makes working out more fun! Running is much more interesting when you have Selena Gomez blasting. Plus, putting a rhythm to your workout can help you work at a more even and effective pace. The right music can even motivate you to push harder, so you can sprint faster and lift heavier. Scientists at Brunel University London have shown that music can increase exercise endurance by 15 percent. So if you want to build up your stamina, put together a killer playlist.
One great way to hack your endurance is to optimize your workout routine by combining exercises. Instead of just giving your booty a workout on the Stairmaster, bring free weights so you can work your biceps at the same time. Add weights to your squats and lunges, or try total body conditioning classes like ‘Yogalates’ and ‘Barre.’ Combining cardio with strength training is the ultimate way to get all of your muscles working at once. By consistently combining your workouts, your endurance will improve drastically – and so will your ability to multitask.
If you usually just throw on the nearest leggings and t-shirt before you hit the gym, consider springing for some better gear – it can actually help increase your stamina! Many long-distance runners swear by compression garments, which were developed to help relieve symptoms of health issues like diabetes and edema. Research by The American College of Sports Medicine demonstrates that wearing compression garments during workouts can help reduce muscle pain and shorten recovery time. That means you can get back in the gym quicker, and train better.