The thing is, “people tend to focus on cardio activities like running or cycling,” says Will Torres, a New York-based personal trainer and founder of the personal training studio, Willspace. But that’s only a small part of the endurance-building equation. “You also need to improve your strength,”
“The added muscle also helps absorb the impact that would otherwise put stress on your joints,” he adds. If you’re looking to take on a Tough Mudder, Spartan Race , or any other endurance race, take a look through Torres’ sneak tactics. You’re probably not doing these seven training techniques—but once you do, you’ll significantly boost your endurance and stamina.
1. Combine strength days with cardio days.
Try combining the two instead,” says Torres. “Use a bench press, immediately followed by pull-ups, then run a mile as fast as you can… and repeat.” Another good example: Jump rope for a minute, followed by squats, an overhead press, and finally sit ups. Repeat.
2. Reduce your amount of rest between sets.
“By the end of your sets, your muscles should be burning—you should be breathing heavily and sweating,” says Torres. “Only take a break if you physically can not continue.” Torres suggests selecting a series of movements like 10 pullups, 10 squats, 10 pushups, 10 situps. Do three rounds of the series back to back, taking as minimal a break as possible.
3. Do fast-paced, high-intensity lifting.
“When you use weights at an extremely rapid pace, it will not only improve your strength, but also carry over to improve your endurance activity,” says Torres. “It’s one of the best ways to ignite your metabolism. When people do an excessive amount of endurance-only training, they actually slow down their metabolism because it starts to eat away at your muscle tissue.”
4. Choose compound movements over isolation.
Compound moves that require using more than one joint—like squats, step-ups, push-ups and pull-ups—will improve your endurance more so than exercises in isolation. “Isolated exercises like bicep curls and leg lifts aren’t going to stimulate you enough to increase your stamina,” he says.
5. Remember: Routine is the enemy.
According to Torres, the human body gets used to a workout after two weeks. So if you’re always running, start doing Muay Thai instead. Or if you’re an avid cyclist, change it up by running stairs. “You need to move the muscles in a different way so that you don’t develop overuse. Plus, it becomes more motivating,” he says. “It’s important to keep the mind guessing.”