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How to Build Leg Stamina

author image Mike Samuels
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.
How to Build Leg Stamina
A woman is cycling on an indoor stationary bike. Photo Credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you're a runner, cyclist, athlete or just want to impress friends with your physical aptitude, building lower body stamina can boost your performance. You have two types of endurance -- aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic stamina uses oxygen and is lower intensity, while anaerobic stamina is generally tougher and can only be sustained for shorter periods of time, usually between 25 seconds and two minutes. To build the stamina in your legs, you'll need to include both aerobic and anaerobic training in your routine.

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Aerobic Stamina

Step 1

Make your training specific to the sport or activity you're doing. To be sport-specific, an exercise must replicate the movements of the activity you're training for, involve the same types of muscle actions and develop strength and flexibility through the same ranges of movement as you use during competition, notes strength coach Kelly Baggett of Higher Faster Sports.

Step 2

Perform a cardiovascular-based stamina session at least twice per week. Make this sport-specific and focus on your lower body. If you're a cyclist, get out on your bike or use a spinning or upright bike at the gym. Runners should hit the road or jump on a treadmill and swimmers should spend their time in the pool. If you compete in team-based sports, running will likely be your best bet, as you'll be running during games. Make these continuous sessions, where you work at a low to moderate intensity for a sustained duration. They should last at least 15 minutes.

Step 3

Add interval work into your routine. This can be done using the same forms of cardio as your continuous sessions, but vary your speeds and intensities. Make your work to rest ratio somewhere between one to one and one to two, advises website The work periods should be at least a couple of minutes in length.

Anaerobic Stamina

Step 1

Hit the weights twice per week for a leg workout. Perform four exercises per session, working in a higher rep range. High rep training, using sets of 15 or more, is the best way to train for muscular endurance, according to strength coaches Michael Berg, and Brad Schoenfeld.

Step 2

Split your leg workout in half -- two hip-based movements and two quad-dominant movements.

Step 3

Pick a deadlift variation, such as conventional, stiff-legged, sumo, elevated, deficit, snatch-grip or Romanian deadlifts as your first exercise. For the second, opt for a machine leg curl, or grab a kettlebell and perform single- or double-handed swings.

Step 4

Choose some type of squat for your main quad exercise. This could be back squats, front squats or squats to a box, body-weight squats or squats holding dumbbells or a kettlebell. As your second move, go for a single-legged exercise such as forward or reverse lunges, split squats or step-ups.

Step 5

Aim to increase your repetitions every week, or add weight to each exercise, provided you can still perform at least 15 reps per set. Reducing rest periods is another way to boost your stamina.

Step 6

Perform a sprint workout after your weights sessions, or on a day in between. Sprint doesn't necessarily mean running sprints -- it could be any form of very high intensity cardio training, using the same equipment as you did for your continuous aerobic stamina workouts. Warm up for five minutes, then go at full intensity for 20 to 30 seconds. Ease off for one to two minutes, then sprint again. Repeat this six to 12 times, then end with an easy five minute cool-down.

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