With the barrage of obstacle course races popping up across the country and around the world encompassing short sprints and hurculean distances alike, it's no wonder people are looking to improve their endurance and stamina. 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 equation—you also need to improve your strength.”
When you build your leg muscles, Torres explains, you’ll better able to propel yourself further in every step you take while running. “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.
It’s a simple equation: the more muscle you can get working, the more it will challenge your heart and your cardiovascular system. Instead of building cardio-only workouts (the pitfall that’ll prevent you from building endurance) make sure to weave strength days into your training. “Most people reserve one day for strength and another day for cardio. 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.
Men typically give themselves between 30 and 90 seconds of recovery time in between sets, but if your goal is greater endurance, be prepared to sacrifice break time. “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 pull-ups, 10 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups. Do three rounds of the series back to back, taking as minimal a break as possible.