Being fit and healthy is not just about a healthy diet in conjunction with working out, but we’ve got to remember that endurance is something that underpins our abilities to be healthy, especially when it comes to exercise. Endurance or stamina is vital for your physical and mental effort.
Stamina or endurance may seem similar, but remember that endurance means enduring a difficult process, and stamina is about having that natural strength to withstand pain, run longer, lift heavier, have higher energy levels, and so on. In other words, efficiency in everything. So how can you improve your stamina or endurance? Let’s show you some things to take on board.
Rest and Recovery Are So Important!
We have to start here because we think that stamina is about getting back to working out as soon as we’ve left the gym or getting back on the horse as soon as we fall off. As human beings, we need to go through a process of adaptation. In the context of exercise, resting and recovering is the ability to go back to that exercise and improve on it.
In order to do this properly, we’ve got to prioritize rest and recovery. Rest is about getting good quality sleep. You need to get good quality sleep with a lifestyle that supports it, as well as some supplements and herbs that can boost HGH (Human Growth Hormone). Sleep is the best thing to boost your abilities to be stronger, and you should not underestimate it. But there are other things you can do to help while you are awake.
For example, there are supplements that can help, such as beta-alanine and nitric oxide. But if you are looking for something more natural, such as food, there are numerous mushrooms that can benefit you. The Cordyceps mushroom has been studied and has been shown to help improve exercise performance. You can read the Cordyceps mushroom benefits, usage, and side effects here.
But supplements are there to supplement your recovery, they are not a replacement for nutrition and sleep. And this is the most important thing to have in your mind when you are looking to improve any form of endurance or stamina. Once you expose yourself to something that pushes you beyond your limits, you have to rest enough so that your body, brain, and your nervous system make those adaptations.
Getting Into the Right Mindset
We all hit the wall, and it is so important to remember that our brain gives up before our body does. The fact is that quitting is a mental thing, not a physical thing. And when you are feeling that temptation to quit, it is because we have neurons in our brain that shut things off that connect to our muscles. It is our brain telling our body to quit.
So we can help ourselves get in the right mindset. Endurance and stamina are partly to do with exposing ourselves to things that stress us out. After all, this is what exercise is: we expose ourselves to a stimulus that is beyond what we can do, and we allow it to adapt through rest and recovery, and once we have recovered, we are able to do it better. And this means that we can all benefit from getting in the right frame of mind.
When you look at people in the military, it’s not just about having the physical strength to cope with the drills, but having that mindset that enables them to stay awake for 24 to 48 hours. And no doubt we need some form of physical strength to cope with long-haul endurance, but we have to remember that it is in our mind.
We can have mastery over our brain when we realize that unfortunately a lot of how we think is a hangover from caveman days. Steve Peters refers to it as The Chimp Paradox which is the caveman brain that is telling us to conserve energy and not do anything, which is not possible in the modern world. But there are things that we can do to make sure we get in the right mindset.
Meditation is one of those things that can help you beyond mere relaxation. But you can also think about practices that get your mind into a certain frame of mind. There is a reason that certain music will make it more enjoyable. When you listen to certain music, it isn’t just a way to get you pumped for a workout, but it can also distract you from the strain of it, as well as reduce your perception of fatigue.
When we shift our perception, we will be able to go longer. This is a big practice, but it’s something that can be achieved through altering your brain, and there are numerous things you can do, including:
All these things are practiced by sportspeople because they know it’s not just about the physical capacities.
Teaching Your Body to Sustain a Position Under Stress
We find something difficult because we’re not used to it. Endurance is the ability to withstand something that is difficult, and in a physical sense as well as a mental one, teaching our body to sustain something under stress is going to improve our brain as well. This is where isometrics can be a fantastic way to help you push past pain points.
Isometrics have gone out of favor in the modern world because they are not a particularly exciting form of exercise. But there were many people who got incredibly strong through tensing a muscle for a specific period of time. Putting isometric workouts into a fitness routine can teach your muscles to hold on during a period of stress or strain.
When we think about the fact that our body is something that has to adapt, we can benefit from giving our body short, sharp shocks. This is what isometrics is all about. Studies have shown that you can stimulate a massive change in your body by tensing a muscle for only 12 seconds.
If you are used to exercising, it’s always those last few reps that are the worst, and isometrics are, in essence, doing those most intense parts of the workout. When you start to teach your body what a stressful situation is, it adapts, and therefore it doesn’t become as stressful anymore.
The Importance of Intervals
Endurance and or stamina is about letting your body adapt. This is why you need to have the right ratio of work to rest. When you are training for something like a marathon, which involves aerobic endurance, you can benefit from having a work to rest ratio of 1 to 1. So this means, for example, exercising for 60 seconds then resting for 60 seconds, and keep going.
For long-duration exercises, whether it’s high-intensity training or running, it’s been shown that you have to start at 12 minutes of exercise in order to feel the benefits and to promote endurance in the body. But even if you cannot make it to 12 minutes initially, you are still able to send a signal that you have to to get better at this.
Intervals are so important because they allow you the opportunity to practice that move, but also allowing you the same sort of downtime. But you can use that downtime to prepare yourself for the next bout, in terms of mindset or breathing properly. Interval training has been shown to be beneficial on the body because of its intensity, but for long-term endurance and stamina, you’ve got to have the balance between work and rest.
Do Not Forget Mental Stamina
We’ve already talked about getting into the right mindset, but there’s a lot to be said for mental stamina by itself. It is important to have a positive frame of mind and this will help you overcome significant obstacles that you were putting in front of you, but you have to remember that mental stamina is about reducing stress above everything else.
Mental stamina is the key to being physically strong. It’s something that we can all benefit from because learning that a setback is only an obstacle that we have to try and climb over again is crucial for our ability to enjoy anything. Endurance is about going through tough times. And when it comes to health and fitness, if we are able to be mentally stronger, this will have a natural carry-over in our ability to work longer and harder.
But don’t think that mental strength is something that you should only practice every now and again. It has to be a daily practice that helps you retrain your brain.
Learning how to improve your stamina and endurance involves a lot of physicality, but it is mainly what goes on in your brain. The people who are able to lift heavier are not necessarily the biggest people. Those that run faster are not always the most physically conditioned. This is the biggest lesson of all when it comes to improving endurance or stamina.