How to Build Leg Stamina
Improving your muscular endurance, especially in your legs, will help you create better workouts and compete more effectively at sports. Unlike muscle-building or cardio workouts, stamina training emphasizes how long you use your muscles, rather than how hard. While you can build leg stamina with one-exercise aerobic workouts, you’ll stress your muscles less if you circuit train. In your race to improve leg stamina, think somewhere between the tortoise and the hare as you develop the right balance of conditioning.
Stamina, or endurance, is your ability to use your muscles over time. You can build strong muscles with weightlifting, but they’ll feel like rubber 20 minutes into a tennis match or aerobic workout if you haven’t built muscular endurance. Adding some resistance to a moderate-intensity workout that lets you continue without frequent breaks will help you build leg stamina.
Target specific muscles with different exercises when you work on your leg stamina. Your calves and hamstrings help you move up hills and jump, while your quads help you negotiate downhill activities and brake your body during sports. Working your butt and hips will also help you coordinate lower-body movements, so include these in your workouts.
To create a leg stamina workout, use a cross-training routine that consists of 10 sets of one exercise, followed after a 30-second break by another exercise. After five sets, take a short break, then get back into your circuit. Use roughly 50 percent of the weight or resistance you can use to perform each exercise. Dumbbells and resistance bands are effective equipment options for circuit training. If you don’t have store-bought equipment, fill two gallon milk jugs with water to create 8-pound dumbbells. Start your workout with several minutes of light-intensity movements, such as jogging in place or butt kicks, to warm up and stretch your muscles. You can repeat the exercise two or three times during your workout, but don’t repeat the same exercise two sets in a row. After you complete your circuit training, take several minutes to cool down, lowering your heart rate and letting excess blood and lactic acid begin to leave your muscles. Finish with a good stretch before you hit the shower.
With or without equipment, you can work all your leg muscles during a stamina workout. If you have dumbbells or resistance bands, perform squats, deadlifts, calf raises, leg presses, squats and lunges. Work all your leg muscles going up and down your stairs to add a moderate intensity for two minutes or more as one part of your circuit. Jog and skip in place, raising your knees high. If you have an exercise bike, rowing machine, elliptical or treadmill, take turns using that equipment with a moderate resistance, gear or incline setting. Intersperse body-weight exercises performed off the machine with time on the machine, rather than spending your entire workout on one machine. Add sets of box and depth jumps, jumping onto a knee-high box with both feet, or jumping off a box and jumping back up as your hit the floor.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.