Most people dread workouts
because of the
they feel while exercising.
This is an indication
that your body isn't ready to take the
load you're putting on it, and you need
to slow down until you can increase
your stamina levels. Pushing yourself
to the limit is not always the best
way to get results. Understanding
your body and its fitness level is of
prime importance, so you can build
your stamina and strength slowly.
What is stamina?
Stamina is a measure of how long
you can sustain a stressful activity.
Gauging your stamina helps
determine your overall physical
fitness to battle disease, fatigue
and illness. "Most people perceive
stamina as lung power," says Daniel
Vaz, coach of the Nike Run Club in
Mumbai. "But in reality, good stamina
means a stronger heart. It means
that your heart is now pumping in more
blood with every beat, which is technically
known as hypertrophy. This means
the heart is working lesser time to do
more work, and hence you are more
comfortable with the same workout and
you feel healthier," explains Vaz.
To build your stamina, it's essential
to practice strength training alongside
aerobic activities like jogging and brisk
walking to strengthen your joints and
muscles. Opt for an indoor workout (in
a gym) if you are just starting out.
Jogging outdoors is not an option for
those who are working out after months,
or experience low stamina levels.
"Cardiovascular activities challenge the
aerobic energy system of your body;
the more you do, the better your body
is able to transport oxygen from your
lungs to your muscles where it's needed
to burn energy," says Heath
Matthews, senior sports physiotherapist
at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani
Sports Medicine Centre.
Matthews recommends you do cardiovascular
workouts that last 30 to 60
minutes, four times a week, and alternate
days of strength training. "Start
the strength training with low weights,
nothing above 50 per cent of your body
weight, and include high repetitions --
sets of 12 to 20 per exercise," he adds.
"Once you are comfortable with this
workout, and your stamina increases
gradually, avoid increasing the load of
workout by more than 10 per cent with
each cycle," advises Matthews.
You can even mix the two -- cardio
and strength training -- in every workout
for three days of the week, suggests
Vaz. Start gently on the treadmill, move
on to a brisk walk, and then a jog, and
then bring it down once again when the
heart rate starts climbing. Follow this
alternating routine for about 20 minutes
and follow it up with 30 minutes
of strength training.
The strength training should focus
on different parts of the body on different
days. The legs, back and chest
are the largest muscles and must be
treated in isolation on each day. Work
out your abs on all days, and mix your
chest workout with arms, and back with
shoulders. On the fourth day, use a cross
trainer machine like the elliptical
machine or the stair climber.
Am i overdoing it?
Checking your heart rate during exercise
is the best way to know if you're
overexerting yourself. If you're running,
stop and measure your pulse rate for
30 seconds. Keep walking as you do
this. Multiply the figure by two to get
your heart rate. Your maximum heart
rate is 220 minus your age.
"In a low intensity workout, your
heart rate should not go beyond 50-65
per cent of the maximum. A medium
workout is 65 to 80 per cent range, and
an intensive workout goes even above
that," says Matthews.
Take a day off
It's important that you give your body
a day of rest between workouts in order
for it to recover. Each time you work
out, your muscles undergo minute tear,
or micro trauma. Hence, the body
needs a day of rest so it can heal
It also helps you stay on the
path. "The drop out rate
becomes very high if you ask
someone to work out six
days a week. Three days
of workout on alternate
days will ensure that
people stay motivated
for a long time," says Vaz.
Eat right for better stamina
Setalvad says that water
is essential for improving
stamina. "Most people
reach out for food
when they're fatigued.
But staying hydrated
also gives you strength
to go on."
When it comes to foods
that can provide you
energy, she says to opt
for items that have a low
glycaemic index -- these
will provide you energy
for a longer time, and
not necessarily foods
that are high in protein.
Foods with a low glycaemic index are:
Greens like barley (Roman gladiators
use to ear barley bread before going into
Nuts like pistachios
Dry fruits like prunes and apricots
Foods like ghee and olive oil that have
more Omega3, are more satisfying.