How to Increase Stamina: 16 Ways to Power Up a Workout

More stamina means greater efficiency in exercise and daily activities

What is Stamina

Verywell / Amelia Manley

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If you had to choose one—and only one—component of fitness to improve, you may not consider your stamina. Many people focus on strength, endurance, or speed, all of which are worthwhile goals to chase. However, one under-appreciated fitness factor combines multiple components of fitness into one and that is stamina.

If you want the most bang for your fitness buck, consider working to improve stamina. Stamina is the underlying factor for increasing performance in cardiovascular and strength-building pursuits. Below, read more on what stamina is and how to increase it.

What Is Stamina? 

Stamina is defined as “the ability to sustain the prolonged physical or mental effort,” according to Oxford Dictionary. What this means in practical terms is that good stamina allows you to:

  • Run faster for longer distances
  • Lift heavier weights for more reps
  • Take more prolonged, more strenuous hikes 
  • Push through perceived pain, discomfort, and fatigue
  • Perform daily activities with high energy levels

The better your stamina, the more efficient you become at just about everything, mentally and physically. 

How Stamina Relates to Fitness

Stamina is the underlying factor behind improving other fitness goals. Improving your stamina will enable you to push longer and harder during endurance exercise, allows you to powerfully lift weights during strength training, and helps you move faster without tiring.


People often use the words “stamina” and “endurance” interchangeably, and while the two terms are similar, they aren’t the same. Endurance in fitness is endurance is defined as the amount of time a muscle group or body system can perform a certain action. There are two types of endurance related to fitness: cardiovascular and muscular.

How to Build Endurance

  • Add more time to your training gradually over the week, month, and year
  • Add more distance to your endurance training over the week, month, and year
  • Use lighter weights and perform more repetitions to build muscular endurance
  • Learn to push through mental and physical blocks (within healthy limits)
  • Leave time for recovery
  • Fuel and hydrate well

Cardiovascular endurance refers to the ability of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels to support rhythmic exercises such as swimming, cycling, and running. Muscular endurance refers to the ability of your muscles to sustain repetitive movements under a given load, such as during weightlifting or hiking. Both types of endurance are essential and represent a stamina component. 


“Strength” has lots of different definitions, but regarding fitness, it essentially defines how much weight you can lift. Powerful people can lift heavier weights and lighter weights for many reps. People with less strength can’t lift as much and may not be able to lift as many reps. 

Strength training contributes to your stamina because it conditions your body to sustain movement under heavy loads. Boosting your stamina, in turn, helps improve your strength training by removing a lack of stamina as a limiting factor to how many reps you can do or how powerfully you can move the weight.

Improving your strength helps endurance-focused exercises because the stronger your muscles, the better they can handle repetitive movements. 


Speed refers to how fast or slow you move while walking, running, swimming, or performing other cardiovascular exercises. Genetics may influence speed more than strength and endurance, although you can improve your speed with hard work just like you can improve any other part of your fitness. 

Stamina refers to your ability to sustain a given effort. Stamina is less of a function of speed, but speed certainly still plays a role. You'll be able to move faster for longer if you improve your stamina.  

How to Improve Your Stamina

The key concept here is to challenge yourself. If you’re trying to improve your stamina (or any aspect of your fitness), you’ll need to follow the “principle of progressive overload,” a physiological rule that explains how the body gets stronger, faster, and fitter. 

To put it simply, the principle of progressive overload says that you won’t improve in any capacity if you keep doing the same workouts at the same intensity over and over again.

It would help if you changed something, be it frequency, intensity, volume, weight, distance, speed, or rest intervals. For example, if you can barbell squat 10 reps at 100 pounds, you should next try to squat 12 reps at 100 pounds or 10 reps at 105 pounds.

Minor tweaks like this lead to significant improvements over time. Here are 16 ways to change up your workout routine and induce improvements in your stamina. 

Go for Long Walks 

Here’s a simple way to improve stamina: Move your body for long periods. Going for long walks of 30 to 60 minutes is a phenomenal way to build endurance, especially for beginners. Even advanced exercisers can enjoy the stamina-boosting effects of long-distance walking if they amp up the speed and intensity

Add Running Intervals

If you don’t feel walking is enough to improve your stamina, try tossing in a few running intervals throughout your walk. Interval training is one of the best methods for improving overall fitness, at least in a time-efficient sense. Next time you head out for a walk, add a 30-second sprint every three or four minutes. 

Increase Your Running Distance or Time

Go the distance for stamina. Because stamina combines endurance, speed, and strength, challenge yourself to maintain your usual running pace for a minute longer. When you can do that, add another minute. Your stamina should continue to improve this way for a while, although everyone has limits on how far and fast they can run. 

Run Hills and Stairs

If increasing your running distance or time doesn’t sound fun (we don’t blame you), vary the running instead. Adding hill runs to your routine can make a huge difference in your stamina if you live near hills or hiking trails. Alternatively, stairs and bleachers work, too. Running in an uphill manner challenges your lungs and legs alike. 

Try High-Volume Weightlifting

Studies show that volume is the number-one variable in resistance training that improves fitness. Volume refers to the total load you lift in a session, day, or week. It’s calculated by multiplying the weight by reps.

In general, continually increasing your volume benefits your fitness. For example, if you perform three sets of 10 squats at 100 pounds, find your total volume by multiplying three by 10 by 100. The total volume comes out to 3,000 pounds. 

Practice Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercise is any exercise during which muscles fiber but don’t extend or contract. Planks and wall-sits are two good examples of isometric exercises. Incorporating isometric work into your fitness routine can teach your muscles to stay under stress for extended periods, improving stamina.

Isometric Exercises to Try

Decrease Rest Intervals During Workouts

One surefire way to improve your stamina is to allow yourself less rest time (unless you’re lifting very heavy weights, in which case you should rest three to five minutes between sets for optimal strength gains).

Studies show that decreasing rest intervals while performing moderate- to high-intensity exercise increases physical performance and body composition. Shortening your rest interval forces you to perform more work in less time, which in theory, should support improvements in stamina. 

Try Cycling 

Riding a bike in any fashion—mountain biking, road biking, or indoor cycling—can improve your stamina if you push the pace (and the terrain if you’re outside). Indoor cycling in particular is proven to increase aerobic capacity, a major contributor to stamina, as well as other health markers.

Mountain biking may be more effective at increasing muscular endurance and power due to the increased and variable resistance. Outdoor cycling in general can boost cardiovascular stamina, improving fitness levels and reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease.

Swap Cycling for Rowing

If you’re an avid cycler, you may want to add rowing to your workout rotation. Scientists have long hypothesized that rowing is a more effective workout than cycling because rowing recruits more muscle groups more intensely. Rowing seems to improve cardiovascular capacity more than cycling, so next time you have the opportunity to hop on an erg, go for it!

Have Dance Parties 

Dancing is a phenomenal exercise that will leave your lungs and muscles burning—and it’s fun! Dancing may also require you to assume new positions and challenge your range of motion, improving your overall fitness.

Several scientific studies have shown dancing to significantly impact health and fitness, from better mobility and balance to improved cardiovascular endurance. Dance as exercise may also increase adherence for some people because the cost and transportation barriers to entry are low.

Have More Sex

Fitness doesn't have to be so structured all the time. Other activities, like having sex, can improve your physical health, too. Sexual intercourse can be highly physically intensive and, as such, may improve your cardiovascular health and muscular endurance. 

Somewhat surprisingly, scientists have researched this—as early as 1981, researchers speculated that sexual activity might increase physical performance. And in 2010, researchers concluded that intercourse results in various physiological health benefits, including pain relief properties, which could help you push through tough workouts later. 

If nothing else, having sex won't negatively affect your physical performance, as is often believed. Feel free to use this advice to replace a workout with some time in the bedroom. 

Play Sports

Most sports require complex skill sets that may be outside your comfort zone. If you’re used to lifting weights, running, or other relatively monotonous movements, swapping one workout weekly for a sports game is a great way to hone other physical skills. Again, destructuring your fitness routine could if counterintuitively, improve your stamina and fitness. 

For instance, a soccer game includes sprinting, jogging, walking, cutting, kicking, dodging, and even throwing, depending on your position. Intermingling these different movements provides a fun and challenging way to improve stamina. 

Listen to Music While Exercising

Everyone knows a good song can pump you up for your workout. Listening to music brings people joy and energy, and this remains true during exercise. Listening to upbeat music during your workout might boost your performance in a number of ways, from reducing your perception of fatigue, distracting you from the strain of your workout, and making exercise feel easier.

Drink Caffeine Before Exercising

If you’re looking for a one-off way to improve your stamina, consuming a bit of caffeine before your workout might help. Studies show caffeine is a great pre-workout supplement because it can increase your energy, mood, and physical capacities. However, the effect seems more significant in men than women, and you should be careful not to become reliant on caffeine. 

Add Meditation to Your Fitness Routine

Remember how we mentioned that “stamina” refers to physical and mental pursuits? This is where that tidbit of information comes in. Adding mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to your overall wellness routine might improve your mental stamina. 

If you’re used to fast-paced, engaging workouts, mindfulness practices will challenge you to push through perceived boredom and handle stress, two factors that play a role in how long you can exercise at a near-maximal level.

A 2016 study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that medical students reported improved mental stamina (less stress and improved patience and well-being) after six weeks of yoga and meditation.

Don’t Forget to Rest and Recover

Finally, make sure you have recovery days scheduled into your workout routine. Contrary to popular belief, the actual act of exercising isn’t what improves your fitness—it’s the repair and rebuild phase that does.

Rest days are critical to your improvement over time. If you perform an intense workout every day, your body never gets the chance to recover. Thus it never has the opportunity to repair your muscles. 

A Word From Verywell

While stamina is not a factor many people consider when committing to fitness goals, it is an essential component of fitness, boosting your performance in endurance, strength, and speed training. Including some additional stamina-increasing activities into your current routine will help improve your stamina and health. If you need help designing a plan to boost your stamina, seek the help of a personal trainer.

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By Amanda Capritto, ACE-CPT, INHC
Amanda Capritto, ACE-CPT, INHC, is an advocate for simple health and wellness. She writes about nutrition, exercise and overall well-being.