How to Increase Stamina, Speed and Strength

Functional medicine

What is stamina? 

According to the Oxford Dictionary stamina is your ability to sustain prolonged physical effort. This means that you can run longer distances and lift for longer periods of time without becoming fatigued as quickly. 

Increasing your stamina helps you endure discomfort or stress when you’re doing an activity. Having high stamina allows you to perform your daily activities at a higher level while using less energy.

How do I increase my stamina? 

The principle of progressive overload should guide you on your journey to increasing your stamina. This principle says that “you won’t improve in any capacity if you keep doing the same workouts at the same intensity over and over again.” In other words, you need to incrementally increase the weight, length, or intensity of your work out in order to build up stamina (Capritto, A; 2020).

What exercises increase stamina?

Running 

If you are an absolute beginner, you can start by walking long distances. A 30-to-60-minute walk is a great way to increase stamina, even for those who have been training a while. When you feel that a 60-minute walk is not challenging you, add levels of difficulty to your routine. You could start by adding bursts of jogging or running. Try adding a 30-second burst of running every 3 to 4 minutes. You can also add stairs and hills to your route to increase the resistance. Ultimately, as long as you are increasing the length of your run, the intensity of your run or the distance of your run, your stamina will build. Try to keep these increases gradual as per the principle of progressive overload (Capritto, A; 2020).

High-volume weightlifting 

Studies show that volume is most effective way to increase stamina when weightlifting. Volume refers to the total load you lift in each session. It is calculated by multiplying weight by reps.

For example, if you do 2 sets of 5 squats at 10Kgs, you get your total volume by multiplying 2 by 5 by 10. The total volume is 100 Kgs. In general, continually increasing your volume benefits your stamina. So, increasing the amount of sets you do, the amount of squats within your set or that amount of weight you use, will gradually increase your stamina (Capritto, A; 2020). 

Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises, such as planking or wall-sits, are contractions of a particular muscle or group of muscles. During isometric exercises, the muscle doesn’t noticeably change length and the affected joint doesn’t move. While it is not known to be effective in strength training, isometric exercise is effective in stamina building. This is because your muscle becomes trained to undergo stress for an extended period of time (Capritto, A; 2020).  

How much should I exercise to increase my stamina? 

In 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines for physical activity. In adults, aerobic physical activity should be performed throughout the week for at least 150 min (moderate intensity) or for 75 min (vigorous intensity), or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity (WHO; 2010). 

Which foods increase stamina?

Caffeine

We all know that caffeine gives you a buzz. But can that buzz help boost your stamina? In a way, yes. Caffeine can increase a person’s heart rate and give them temporary energy boosts. This means that you can increase the intensity, length, or weight of your work out a little more effectively. While caffeine does not directly increase your stamina long-term, it can give you the boost you need to do the exercising that will increase your long-term stamina. 

Remember to keep caffeine to a minimum though. Your body can develop a tolerance to caffeine, causing you to have to drink increased amounts in order to achieve the same effect (Fletcher, J; 2019). 

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a natural herb available as a supplement to help increase stamina.

“In a small study, 25 athletes took 300 mg of ashwagandha twice a day for 12 weeks. They showed improved stamina, compared with an otherwise matched group who had taken a placebo” (Fletcher, J; 2019).

What is speed? 

According to the Oxford Dictionary speed is the rate at which you move. The faster you move, the more your speed. 

Achieving a faster speed can be a thrill for runners, amateurs and pros alike. Either way, it’s great for your health! Let’s take a look at how you can improve your running speed. 

What exercises increase my speed? 

Tempo runs

This is 10-to-45-minute run. During a tempo run you keep a consistent speed. When you start the run it will feel like you’re holding back but by the time you’re reaching the end you will feel like you’re really pushing to maintain the same speed. 

Tempo runs increase your overall speed because they push you to reach your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point where your body produces lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up in your muscles, it makes your legs feel heavy and the run becomes more difficult. You become slower. Tempo runs train you to run faster an longer before you reach that threshold (English, A; 2020). 

Weight training

Weight training can teach your muscles to expand and contract at a faster rate, priming your muscles to run at higher speeds. This will also increase your core strength allowing you to achieve faster speeds and improved form. 

If you are just starting out in weight training, use body weight and resistance bands before moving to actual weighted equipment to help your body adjust slowly and avoid injury. 

Aim to train 2 to 3 times a week, on non-consecutive days to achieve your peak. Remember, as a runner your main goal is not weight training (English, A; 2020).

Interval training

Interval training is short bursts of speed during an otherwise consistent, but slower speed. The goal is to maintain the same speed during all your “burst” intervals. 

A study conducted in 2018, monitoring 16 runners who added interval training to their routine showed that interval training had major benefits for speed. Each runner completed six interval training sessions over the course of two weeks with two days of recovery between each session. After the training program, the runners were able to run an average of 3.6 more meters in 30 seconds. The study also found that participants increased their speed by an average of 6% in a 3000 meter run (English, A; 2020).

Tips to increase your overall speed

Improve your form 

You will benefit from proper form an any speed but you cannot improve your speed to its maximum potential without proper form. Keep your upper body elongated and relaxed, when impacting the ground with your foot make sure your mid-foot is landing under your hip.  Swing your arms forward and back (not side to side) at low 90-degree angles (Faherty, E; 2017).

Stretch 

Targeting your hips specifically will allow for better movement in your legs when in comes to makes strides as you run. Stretching is best done daily to maintain and increase flexibility (Faherty, E; 2017).

Watch your breathing 

Learning how to breathe while running at faster speeds takes practice. Use both your nose and mouth while inhaling and exhaling to get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles. Also, try belly breathing — fill the diaphragm, not the chest, with air on each inhale (Faherty, E; 2017).

Wear lighter shoes, or lighter everything! 

At the end of the day, the more weight you are carrying, the slower you will run. Changes up your shoes and your gear to light weight equipment to increase your speed. That’s why we sometimes see pro runners in next to nothing – it’s not just for the show! (Faherty, E; 2017).

What is strength? 

According to Top End Sports, Strength is the maximal force you can apply against a load. This not only means you can pick up heavy things, but your body has the ability to achieve much more out when working out. You will also be able to exert more energy without fatiguing. 

How do I increase my strength? 

Training to improve muscle strength includes lifting weights or otherwise increasing the resistance against which you work.

What exercises should I do to increase my strength? 

According to Scott, J (2021) exercises that can help improve strength and definition include:

“Squats: Squats help build your quads (thighs) and glutes (buttocks). This makes it easier to walk or run, lift heavy things, and go up and down stairs.

Lunges: This exercise is good for strengthening your hamstrings, which are the muscles on the back of your upper leg. Stronger hamstrings help you run faster while also providing more stability to your knee joints.

Biceps curls: Your biceps are the muscles on the front of your upper arms. When they are strong, it is easier to perform everyday activities like carrying groceries and picking up your kids or grandkids.

Push-ups: Push-ups work a lot of muscles in your upper body, including your chest, back, and arms. This exercise better prepares you for pushing-type movements, such as pushing a grocery cart or stroller.

Abdominal crunches: The crunch also builds strength in your midsection, as well as in your back, which some research has found may be helpful in easing chronic low back pain.”

What foods should I eat to increase my strength? 

  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Chicken breast 
  • Greek yoghurt 
  • Tuna
  • Lean beef
  • Shrimp
  • Soybeans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Turkey breast 
  • Tilapia
  • Beans
  • Protein powders
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Scallops
  • Lean jerky 
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Buckwheat
  • Tofu
  • Pork tenderloin 
  • Milk
  • Almonds
  • Bison
  • Brown rice

(Tinsley, G; 2018) 

Dr Matt Le Roux works with a variety of concerns, ranging from acute, chronic pain and complex injuries to nutritional, lifestyle, and performance enhancements. He is specialised in Sports Chiropractic. To get in touch, visit https://mattleroux.com/contact-us/

References

Capritto, A; 2020. How to Improve Your Stamina
https://www.verywellfit.com/build-and-improve-stamina-5085005

WHO; 2010. Global recommendations on physical activity for health
https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241599979

Fletcher, J; 2019. Tips to increase stamina.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324904

English, A; 2020. 7 ways to run faster, according to expert running coaches.
https://www.insider.com/how-to-run-faster

Faherty, E; 2017. 24 Ways to Run Faster — Stat
https://greatist.com/fitness/25-ways-run-faster-now

Scott, J; 2021. Understanding Muscular Strength
https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-increase-muscular-strength-3496121

Tinsley, G; 2018. 26 Foods That Help You Build Lean Muscle.
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/26-muscle-building-foods

Dr. Matt le Roux is a man of many talents: chiropractor, sports scientist and functional medicine practitioner. His science-based approach motivates him to explore the synergy between health and performance that changes the way you move, live, train, think, and eat.

Dr Matt le Roux

Chiropractor, Functional medicine practitioner

Need a chiropractor?

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