There are many ways you can increase endurance and stamina. Endurance exercises generally are aerobic in nature as opposed to anaerobic exercises, which focus on short bursts of intense exertion such as in strength training or short distance running. To build endurance, your training needs to focus on slower, more controlled releases of energy and must gradually increase in duration as time passes.
Increasing endurance can mean different things depending on what you want to increase endurance for and the level of experience you have. A beginning runner, for example, might want to be able to be able to run longer distances, whereas a more experienced runner might want to increase his or her endurance of speed and be able to run at a faster pace for a longer period of time. Though there are many exercises designed to increase endurance, all endurance exercise require similar practices.
For any exercise, it is important to first warm up to get your heart rate up into the proper range in which your heart should beat for maximum effect — called a training zone. Heart rate training zones are calculated based on your maximum heart rate (MHR), or the maximum rate at which your heart can beat safely. The training zones include the Recovery Zone at 60-70 percent of your MHR, the Aerobic Zone at 71-80 percent of your MHR, the Anaerobic Zone at 81-90 percent and the Red Line Zone at 91-100% percent. The Recovery Zone is the easiest and meant for light exercise, and only people who are the most fit can handle the exercise in the Red Line Zone.
The most effective zone to increase endurance is the Aerobic Zone, where your cardiovascular system will develop and improve, delivering more oxygen to and carbon dioxide away from your body. To find out what rate your heart needs to be at to be in the correct zone, you have to first find out your MHR, and the easiest and most well-known method for giving you an approximate rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 20 years old, your MHR would be approximately 200 beats per minute. To figure out the rest, all you need to do is find the correct zone and multiply it by the appropriate percentage. Your goal heart rate is in the Aerobic Zone, so 75 percent of your MHR would be a good rate, giving a 20-year-old a target of 150 beats per minute, for example.
If you will be using a heart rate monitor with your exercise sessions, you can tailor your workout to a level that will put your heart rate near this target number. If you aren't using an electronic monitor, you can still monitor your heart rate by counting how many times your pulse beats in 10 seconds and then multiplying by six. About 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercises such as walking or jumping jacks should be enough of a warm-up to get your heart rate up. After your heart rate is in your ideal training zone, your workout can begin.
There are two types of muscle fibers that a workout can build: fast-twitch fibers and slow-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are great for short bursts of strength or speed, and slow-twitch fibers are more efficient at maintaining a steady pace of use for a longer period of time. Slow-twitch muscles are also more energy-efficient than fast-twitch fibers, meaning that they take less energy to use and they don't fatigue as fast. To build slow-twitch fibers, focus on exercises that don't put a lot of strain on your muscles and can be done for longer amounts of time. For example, in weight training, lifting a 10-pound (4.5-kg) weight 50 times is more efficient at building endurance than lifting a 50-pound (22.7-kg) weight 10 times.
Be sure that you don't overexert yourself, because this could have negative effects and cause serious injury. It's best to start your workout at a manageable pace and duration, then slowly increase it over time. For example, if you are training for long distance running but can only run at a comfortable pace for 10 minutes, this is where you'd start. The next week, increase it to 15 minutes, and then to 20 minutes the next week, and so forth.
Make sure that you remain hydrated during your workouts, and if you need to rest, do it. Four 15-minute sessions in a day will have the same effect on the body as one hour-long session in a day. There is a chance that continuing to work out for a long period of time without stopping could result in an injury if your body is not prepared properly or if your technique suffers when you are fatigued.