It is one thing to be accurate in your line and length and another to bowl at 150 km per hour. For South African pacer Dale Steyn, both came easy. Called one of the best and the “most complete” fast bowlers of his generation, Steyn dominated the number one spot in ICC Test rankings for a record 263 weeks between 2008 and 2014 in his peak. Whatever the weather conditions or the pitch; Steyn’s bowling was accurate, lethal and a pleasure to watch.
What gave him an edge when other fast bowlers suffered near constant injuries?
“What bowlers should be doing is making sure they can train their muscles for taking part in battle for a long period. You want your quick bowlers bowling at 140km/h at the start of the day and just as quick in the late afternoon,” Steyn said in an interview once. He said rather than building muscles, bowlers need to train their muscles to bowl with endurance and durability rather than bursts of power.
What Steyn hinted to was building stamina which gives you the ability to sustain any prolonged physical or mental activity. It is not just fast bowlers who need to have good stamina to perform at their best. All of us need stamina in our day to day lives–be it to play with your children, shop for hours, not pant when taking the stairs or going for a hike.
Stamina is a combination of endurance (ability to endure a difficult activity without giving up) and strength (ability to lift heavy loads). With time and effort, you can build your stamina and watch your overall performance improve.
Here are some tips that can help you-
Long Walks: One of the simplest ways to improve your stamina as a beginner is to go on long walks. Walking for 30 to 60 minutes improves your cardiovascular health, fitness, puts less strain on your muscles and can improve your mood. Start by walking for 20 minutes for a few days and keep increasing the time by 10 minutes after every few days. Do a light stretch before you begin walking and walk at a medium pace to get proper exercise.
Interval training which combines high energy bursts of speed with slow, recovery spaces is a powerful way to improve endurance and stamina. Interval training ( for example take small sprints of 30 seconds every 3-4 minutes and walk) twice a week helps you burn more calories, avoid injuries by repetitive movement and helps you increase training intensity without burnout. Some tips to begin interval training: assess your fitness level, start slowly, warm up before you start and keep a steady but challenging pace throughout.
A cool way to increase your stamina is to play sports. It also helps to break the monotony of workouts in the gym or running. Playing sports involve different movements for example playing badminton involves running, picking up the shuttlecock and hitting with the racquet. This kind of intermingling uses different muscle groups and improves your stamina.
It may seem counterintuitive but weight training also improves stamina. A meta analysis of various studies has shown that lifting weights improves endurance and speed and economy of your workout (improves the time taken and energy required to finish your workout). If you have never lifted weight before, start with working out with a trainer who can assess your form and gradually increase the weights you lift. Also consult a doctor before weight training if you have pre existing diseases, injuries or illnesses.
Another fun way to break the monotony of workouts is to dance regularly. Dancing helps improve your cardiovascular health as well as improve your muscle strength. Dancing improves mobility, balance, increases agility, strengthens bones and reduces stress. What’s more, you can dance together with your family or friends and it would be a great activity to do together and de-stress.
Listen to music when you exercise
What pumps up your mood when you go to the gym or come home tired from home? Usually it’s the music. Listening to high-energy music while exercising helps you workout more, distracts you from the strain of the workout, changes your perception of fatigue and makes exercise feel easier. So keep a fast-paced playlist ready when you are lifting weights in the gym or go for a run.
Eat healthy and get adequate rest
Eating healthy food with an adequate portion of protein, fats and good carbohydrates is important to find the energy to workout. Also getting 7-8 hours of sleep is crucial for your body to rest and recover after a workout so do not scrimp on sleep. Also undergoing vitamin deficiency tests will also tell you if there are vitamin deficiencies that are making you feel lethargic and tired all the time.
With these tips, you will improve your stamina in no time and conquer your fitness goals.