Endurance vs Stamina – The Difference & How to Improve Both

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When I first started exercising, I found my workouts were too short and unsatisfying to yield the returns I was after.

People would tell me, “you have to increase your stamina”, or, “your endurance needs building”.

But how would I do this? Endurance vs Stamina? And are these two terms the same?

What I did know was that unless I found the answer, I was never going to obtain the ultimate results from my training.

In this endurance vs stamina article, we explain the difference, and how to improve both.

Endurance vs Stamina What’s the Difference?

Lay people, fitness enthusiasts, coaches and even the scientific world often use both of these words interchangeably. Which is wrong.

For health and exercise purposes, there’s a distinct difference in endurance vs stamina.


Let me start this endurance vs stamina examination by concentrating on one aspect.

The dictionary explains stamina as the physical and/or mental strength to do something that might be difficult.

When we look at this in terms of exercise, stamina is the amount of time that a muscle (or group of muscles) can function at its highest capacity. Coming back to the literal definition, it’s the “difficult” part that defines stamina.

Let’s assume part of your training routine includes running. This could be on the spot, treadmill or street. You perform as fast and as hard as you can, making the muscles work to their limit.

The amount of time you can sustain this is your stamina. People with higher stamina will keep on pushing through for longer.


Literally, endurance is the ability to sustain a prolonged effort or activity.

In the fitness world, endurance relates to how long we can perform a specific exercise, without becoming tired or suffering from fatigue with no relation to capacity. That exhaustion can either be physical or mental.

In other words, how long you can “keep going” at a pace or weight of your choosing.

Coming back to the example above, it would mean running for as long as you possibly can, without sprinting or pushing your body to the max.

Your performance rate can rise and fall throughout the exercise, even becoming a steady jog. But, as long as you keep running, that is a measure of your endurance.

So to summarize endurance vs stamina. In stamina, we’re referring to the ability to sustain a given task at maximum capacity. With endurance, capacity is unimportant.

How to Increase Stamina

As I mentioned above, stamina is concerned with your muscles working at their extreme.

Therefore, increasing stamina means concentrating on increasing the strength of these muscles and the enhancement of their energy usage (to power them).

Utilize Bodyweight Resistance Exercise

When examining endurance vs stamina, cardio may have its place in the former, but for the latter, you need to focus on resistance training to increase muscle power and strength.

You don’t need a gym membership or even home dumbbells (although they would help).

Instead, you can use your body weight…

Squats with mother & baby at home
…and add some extra weight

Exercises such as push-ups, coffee table dips, crunches and squats are perfect for building stamina.

Build Stamina and Power by Taking It Slow

While it may be your aim to work out as fast and as hard as possible, the stamina you require to achieve this is built by doing the opposite, taking it slow.

Research indicates that performing resistance exercises in a deliberate and controlled manner increases the intensity, raises workload, reduces momentum and elevates strength.

Furthermore, this same study shows that super-slow training is the ideal method for building strength and stamina in middle-aged and older adults.

So, for example, push-ups.

Starting from the elevated arms-locked position, don’t “drop” into the push-up. Slowly and steadily lower yourself down until your arms are at ninety degrees, taking about two to three seconds.

Pushing back out into the upright position should be the same length of time. After just a few repetitions, you will feel the greater stress and therefore benefit this technique places on your muscles.

Use Progressive Overload

Scientists explain that using the progressive overload method (gradually increasing resistance) elevates muscle strength and stamina.

Hence, if you’re using variable weight dumbbells, add an extra kilo every week to maximize results. However, if you’re completing bodyweight exercises, you can increase resistance by wearing a weight vest, or simply using a weighted backpack (adding water bottles, bags of rice, etc.)

Furthermore, all forms of resistance training, including progressive overload, elevate glycogen metabolization. This form of sugar powers your workouts, the more efficiently your body uses it, the more stamina you will have.

How to Increase Endurance

As explained in this endurance vs stamina article, the former is the ability to just keep going. Strength isn’t as vital as for endurance.

As such, elevating endurance means improving oxygen availability, maximizing blood flow and boosting mental fortitude.

Utilize Compound Exercises

Unlike isolation training, which concentrates on one muscle, compound exercises are concerned with working more than one muscle group.

Bodyweight examples include squats, lunges for the lower body, press-ups, lat pull-downs, dips for the upper body, plank, ab wheel rollouts for the abs and so on.

Stimulating muscles simultaneously promotes blood flow and can increase oxygen efficiency. Research conducted on 40-50-year-old women indicated that performing compound exercises heightens endurance.

Incorporate HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

This cardio training method involves short bursts of extreme activity, followed by a period of either rest or lower intensity exercise.

For example, jogging for three minutes, followed by sprinting as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then repeating.

Numerous studies indicate that HIIT workouts increase endurance, build muscle, and are more effective at boosting cardiorespiratory ability than standard exercise.

Do Yoga or Meditation

In scrutinizing endurance vs stamina, it’s vital to understand that mental endurance is as important as physical.

The ability to concentrate and mentally push through barriers can power you through training when otherwise you would have given up.

Studies indicate that both yoga and meditation increase determination, endurance and focus.

Endurance vs Stamina Summary

A curtailed exercise session means reduced returns, frustration and disappointment.

Understanding the difference between endurance and stamina, and how to improve both, leads to enhanced fitness, managed weight loss, increased musculature and immense satisfaction.

Don’t let your mental or physical fatigue end your workouts.

Instead, use the tips above to heighten your resolve and physical ability to achieve a healthy and amazing looking physique.

Photo of author


Jenny Churchill

Always being a fitness fanatic saw Jenny become a Level 2 Certified Personal Trainer. She was able to maintain her enthusiasm for her own fitness after the arrival of 2 more mouths to feed. And now it's more about helping others through her writing, something she can do from home.

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