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How to build stamina and endurance - comprehensive guide

Updated on May 17, 2024
11 mins read
How to build stamina and endurance - comprehensive guide
How to build stamina and endurance - comprehensive guide

Each sport has a unique set of skills and abilities that athletes require to outshine their opponents. But there are certain across-the-board components, for instance, stamina and endurance, that are vital for all sports disciplines. This post looks at how to increase stamina and endurance through exercises and the importance of these elements to athletes.

Endurance and stamina are vital for excellent performance in any sport. In general, this combination does two things.

First, it increases athletes’ lung capacity enabling them to continue performing a given physical activity for a prolonged period.

Second, stamina and endurance training are the fuel that keeps players performing at the top of their game without giving in to fatigue and other unfavorable conditions.

Similar to other pillars of athleticism like reaction time and coordination, stamina and endurance can be improved. This post is a comprehensive guide on how to build endurance and stamina and key exercises that help with that. Also, we’ll explain key stamina vs. endurance differences and the role of these components in molding elite athletes.

Stamina vs. endurance

These two parameters are regularly used together in the sports context. It’s common for most people to confuse the two terms in stamina vs. endurance discussions.

But while they are closely related, the two are different in that they improve athletes’ overall performance from varying angles. Without a clear understanding of endurance vs. stamina, athletes may be working on one thing while they intend to improve something else.

What is stamina?

Stamina is the strength and energy that enable a particular group of muscles to perform at or near-maximum capacity. The focus of stamina is on the ability to perform a particular physical activity or workout at the highest possible capacity or with the same energy.

An example of stamina is when an athlete targets to perform twenty pull-ups. If they achieve the target, such players are strong and fit and have high stamina. But if they fail at, let’s say, seven pull-ups, the individuals have low stamina.

Take note that mental stamina is as important as physical stamina. Much like physical stamina, mental stamina measures athletes’ ability to focus on a given task for a long period without being distracted.

There are many benefits of stamina in sports. But the most significant is the athlete’s ability to perform at or near their optimum capacity for a longer time. This is super essential and crucial during interval training and in competitions. Athletes who focus on how to build up stamina also tend to have an added advantage during real games because they keep on going even when their opponents are exhausted.

What is endurance?

Endurance relates to an athlete’s ability to sustain a given physical activity for a prolonged period. This parameter measures how many repetitions a group of muscles can make before fatiguing.

Muscular endurance is different from muscular strength. Muscular strength refers to the amount of force a muscle or group of muscles can put out with a single effort. Muscular strength and endurance complement each other to determine an athlete’s ability to move and lift weights.

Muscular endurance benefits include:

  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduced risk of muscle injury
  • Improving aerobic capacity (maximal oxygen uptake) of muscles
  • Helps improve and maintain good posture for prolonged periods
  • Boosts confidence and creates a sense of accomplishment

What is cardiovascular endurance?

While muscular endurance focuses on an athlete’s musculature, cardiovascular endurance relates to the heart, lungs and circulatory system. Cardiovascular endurance refers to how well the body can pump oxygenated blood to the muscles and other vital organs and remove carbon dioxide during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and exercises.

When breathing, oxygen-rich air gets into the lungs, which diffuses into the blood in the alveoli. The oxygenated blood then travels to the heart, where it’s pumped to the muscles and other organs around the body.

The muscles require a higher oxygen supply during vigorous exercises than when resting. Thus, the cardiovascular system needs to work harder to meet this demand. Athletes with a higher cardiovascular endurance can perform high-intensity activities for prolonged periods before experiencing fatigue.

Athletes can improve their cardiovascular fitness by adding aerobic exercises to their workout routines. An aerobic exercise like jumping jacks challenges the body to sustain a high energy output for a prolonged period.

Consequently, the body adjusts by improving its capacity to take in oxygen and utilize it efficiently in the muscle cells. It achieves this mainly by increasing the size of the heart ventricles. An increase in these chambers means that the heart can supply more oxygen-rich blood to the skeletal muscles without working too hard.

What is Cardiorespiratory Endurance?

Cardiorespiratory endurance is the measurement of how well the respiratory and circulatory systems collaborate to supply the muscles with the amount of oxygen required during intense activities.

Cardiovascular endurance can be measured at home or gym using the Blazepod Beep Test. It can also be measured in a lab setting using a treadmill or stamina exercise bike and an advanced machine that analyzes the exhaled air.

Either way, cardiovascular endurance is determined by measuring the V02 max. V02 max- also known as peak oxygen uptake- refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that the body utilizes during intense physical activities. A higher V02 max suggests that the body absorbs most of the oxygen from the inhaled air to deliver it to the muscles. This translates to better aerobic fitness.

How to increase stamina with exercises

Athletes with better stamina are good at almost everything, from running at top speed for longer distances to carrying on throughout the 90 minutes of a soccer match. Developing stamina is crucial for performing sports-specific physical activities at a higher level without fatiguing easily.

Looking for tips on how to get more stamina? Try these exercises.


Walking is among the simplest yet underrated ways of staying active. Its simplicity makes it a good starting point for beginners and returning individuals to build up training after a long break.

And thanks to its lower impact nature, walking is an excellent alternative for people who can’t run due to pain- or weight-related issues. For intermediate, advanced and elite athletes, a good walk can also be used as a form of cross-training. This is a good way to vary the stress on various muscles and give the joints a break.

When starting to walk for stamina, aim for 30-60 minutes of walking, 3-5 days a week. Healthy adults should aim at making 10,000 steps a day. But beginners can start with 2000 steps a day and work their way up.

Stamina rowing machine

Rowing is a good non-impact workout for people across all fitness levels. The four parts of a rowing stroke (the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery) offer a full-body workout that targets almost all the major body muscle groups, including the upper back, pecs, arms, abdominal muscles, glutes, calves and obliques.

How to use a stamina rowing machine correctly

  1. Start by sitting symmetrically on the seat.
  2. Extend the legs forward and secure your feet firmly onto the footplates. Use the foot straps to adjust the footpad to your shoe size, ensuring there’s no play.
  3. Next, select the mode according to your current fitness level and start rowing.

Stamina exercise bike

A stationary bike is another excellent solution for athletes wondering how to increase stamina for running and cycling. Riding a stationary exercise bike is low-impact cardio that burns fat while training and strengthening the heart, lungs and lower body muscles.

The best way to increase stamina riding a stamina exercise bike is through interval training. Here is a sample stationary bike interval training plan:

  1. Pedal at low intensity for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Switch to medium-intensity pedaling for 8-10 minutes.
  3. For the next 10 minutes, keep switching between high-intensity and low-intensity pedaling in two-minute intervals:
  • High intensity pedaling (2 minutes)
  • Low intensity pedaling (2 minutes)
  • High intensity pedaling (2 minutes)
  • Low intensity pedaling (2 minutes)
  • High intensity pedaling (2 minutes)
  1. To finish, ride at low intensity for 5-10 minutes.


The squat has been in most athletes’ arsenal forever- and for a good reason. This exercise is often considered an athlete’s best friend because it challenges different upper and lower body muscle groups to work together simultaneously. The basic squat targets the following muscle groups;

  • Transverse abdominis
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Erector spinae
  • Obliques
  • Glutes
  • Adductor
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors
  • Calves

Besides increasing stamina, doing squats boosts general athleticism by improving body awareness, increasing leg power and enhancing knee stability.

How to do a basic squat

  1. Start by taking a wide stance with the feet slightly wider than hip-width. Both feet should be dialed nicely into the floor for stability and easy movements up and down.
  2. Straighten both arms and bring them in front for balance.
  3. Bend the knees and ankles to drive the hips back and sit as if sitting on an invisible chair. The thighs need to be parallel to the floor or further lower to the ground. Importantly, ensure that the knees stay behind the toes, the lower back is neutral, and the chest remains up.
  4. With the arms still stretched forward for balance, now engage the lower body muscles to stand back up to starting position.
  5. Start with 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions taking a short break between the sets.

How to increase endurance through exercises

Endurance training exercises primarily involve elevating the heart rate to increase oxygen uptake and respiration for a prolonged period. However, as pointed out earlier, endurance exercises can be categorized into three depending on what the athlete, coach or trainer wants to work on.

Cardiovascular endurance exercises


If there’s one exercise that most elite athletes squeeze into their training regimen- it must be jogging. Jogging is a high-impact workout. However, unlike running, this is not a high-intensity exercise.

Jogging regularly benefits players and athletes by strengthening the heart muscle. Additionally, it helps strengthen the heart muscle, thereby improving its overall efficiency. Stronger heart muscles translate to reduced heart workload. This is characterized by a lower resting heart rate and a higher oxygen uptake.

Other benefits of jogging include building strong and healthy bones, strengthening the immune system and improving mental fitness.

Jump rope cardio

Sometimes the answer to how to improve running endurance is as simple as grabbing a jumping rope. Jumping rope is crucial in most athletes’ arsenal of exercise tools because it provides a killer but fun workout without being time-consuming.

Even when done for a few minutes, jumping rope can elevate the heart rate like running and other high-intensity activities. What’s more, an athlete can vary jump rope cardio workout intensity to fit their fitness level and exercise demands.

Rope jumping can be considered a full-body workout because it engages all body muscles, especially when combined with other exercises like burpees, air squats, pushups and squats.

Besides increasing cardiovascular endurance, regular rope jumping also boosts metabolism and coordination.

When jumping rope to increase cardiovascular endurance, athletes are recommended to start by determining their baseline. That is, how long (in minutes or seconds) they can jump before exhaustion.

The next step is to add regular rope jumps into their workout regimen. Athletes should strive to complete at least five jump rope workouts a week. Each time, the athletes should push themselves a little further and attempt to beat their previous record.

Cardiorespiratory endurance exercises

Stair climbing

It’s common advice to take the stairs, not the elevator. For years, active stair climbing has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

In one study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, the researchers investigated how regular bouts of stair climbing exercises affect peak oxygen uptake.

The experiment involved speedily ascending a three-flight stairwell (60 steps in total) 3 times a day, three days a week, for six weeks. The experiment included 1-4 hours rest between each repetition.

At the end of the study, the training group displayed a 5% increase in cardiorespiratory endurance. The researchers attributed the modest improvement in CRF to the long recovery period between bouts. They speculated that shorter rest times might be necessary to maintain metabolic stress.

Besides increasing cardiorespiratory endurance, stair climbing may benefit athletes with greater leg strength and healthy muscles, bones and joints.

Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks are a basic bodyweight exercise with immense benefits. With proper form, jumping jacks recruit a wide range of muscles, making them a full-body workout. Specifically, the muscles used when doing jumping jacks are the calves and core, glutes and arm adduction and abduction.

In addition to employing different muscle groups, top athletes add this exercise in their training sessions due to its aerobic nature. When done at high intensity, jumping jacks elevate the pulse rate leading to a higher cardiorespiratory and a healthier heart.

How to do jumping jacks correctly

  1. Stand with both feet together and arms at the sides
  2. Jump into the air spreading the feet to shoulder-width apart. At the same time, spread your arms out and over your head.
  3. Jump back to the starting stance. That’s one rep.
  4. Aim for a daily set of 10-25 jumping jacks.

Muscular endurance exercises


  1. The athlete lies flat on his stomach, with the upper body supported by the forearms.
  2. Keep the arms relaxed and in a slightly wider position and the legs flat.
  3. Next, he lifts his hips and knees off the floor so that the hips, midsection and back of the head are in a nice straight line.
  4. Hold that position for as long as possible. Starters should aim for at least 20 seconds.


  1. Getting into a high plank position, with the hands slightly wider than the shoulders. Keep the palms flat, legs straight at the back and the core and glutes muscles tightly locked in place.
  2. Lower the upper body towards the floor by bending the elbow.
  3. When your chest is nearly touching the floor, pause and push yourself back up to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  4. Starters can aim for 10-20 pushups and then work their way up.


So, how do athletes know if they’re getting better in terms of stamina and endurance? The Blazepod Flash Reflex Training System has multiple tests designed to measure these and other components of athleticism. The Blazepod Beep Test, for instance, is an indispensable tool for measuring cardiovascular endurance, V02 max, stamina and anaerobic threshold. The Blazepod Plyo Box Vertical Jump Test is another way of evaluating improvements in power, stamina and resilience.

A cool feature of the Blazepod app is its in-depth performance data tracking. This function offers trainers and coaches an error-free way of measuring progression to determine the necessary changes.

Grab the Blazepod Reflex Training System today and increase your athletes’ stamina and endurance.


What is the best exercise for endurance?

  • Jogging
  • Jump rope
  • Stair climbing
  • Planks
  • Pushups

How do beginners build endurance?

Beginners are advised to add one to three low-intensity cardio workouts to their routine. Note that frequency is paramount to reaping the benefits of any physical activity. Aim to complete the exercises at least three weeks per week.

What does lactic acid do to the body?

Lactic acid build-up causes an uncomfortable burning sensation that’s commonly referred to as muscle soreness.

What food is good for stamina?

Peanut butter and almonds are great sources of healthy fats. Healthy fats are the primary source of energy during light to moderate stamina exercises. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish are a nice addition to an athlete’s meal because it promotes vasodilation. This leads to quicker movement of oxygen into the muscles during exercise.