​8 ultimate exercises to build strength, stamina and cardio fitness

Try out this workout to increase your ability to train longer and harder
​The ultimate strength and stamina workout

Of all the elements of physical training that go to helping you towards your goals, stamina is one area that can't be ignored. Whether you're trying to get bigger, stronger or faster, having a high level of stamina will mean that you can train for longer and harder without getting tired or fatigued.

There are many things that can help increase your stamina, from caffeine and nutrition to mental training, but for anyone looking to up their fitness levels, incorporating a consistent level of stamina-building workouts will have an enormous effect on your training over time.

When it comes training consistently F45 Training knows what it's talking about. A global functional fitness franchise helping people to develop ongoing training habits, it has 36 classes that combine high-intensity interval training, circuits, and functional training.

We spent some time with Sam Gregory, a PT and qualified strength and conditioning coach with 20 years of experience. The owner of F45 Stratford, a top fitness studio in London, Sam took us through his choice exercises for building stamina through exercise.

For each exercise, you should be able to comfortably perform the exercises for at least 45 seconds, so make sure the weights are manageable but taxing. To build stamina you should be aiming to carry out the exercises for 45 to 60 seconds, increasing the time as you progress.

Chest to floor burpee

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

Sorry, we know you didn't want us to bring it up but there's a reason trainers like throwing in burpees to workouts so much. Not only do they work an enormous range of muscles and help to train things like proprioception, but for building overall stamina there aren't many movements that'll see you developing as quickly.

Muscles worked: Arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, abs – pretty much everything.

How to do it: From a standing position, move into a squat as you lean forward and lower your hands to the floor. As your palms land, kick your feet back to end up in a plank position, lowering your chest to the ground in one fluid motion. From that position perform an explosive press-up and jump your legs forward to propel your body into a squat before jumping into the air. Soften the knees and land before returning to an upright position and repeating the movement.

Tip: There are many varying levels of burpees and although trainers tend to be quite trigger happy when adding them into workouts it's important to perform the full movement correctly. If you're new to the movement break it down into each element before combing the movements, only throw in the full chest to floor press-up when you're confident.

Standing dumbbell punches

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

A popular boxing exercise that turns a cardio movement into a significantly more demanding resistance exercise. That means you'll not only train your fitness levels but also add in a heap of other benefits like strength, conditioning and stamina development.

Muscles worked: Shoulders, triceps, biceps, lats

How to do it: Stand with your hands up and your elbows in. Your feet should be one in front of the other, slightly diagonal, hip-width apart and your dominant foot at the back at a 45-degree angle with the heel of the ground. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, punch slightly across the body in a straight line whilst keeping the other dumbbell held up. Pull back and alternate the movement.

Tip: Fundamentally the movement is a weighted progression of jabs and crosses found in boxing, so the first focus should be to get the stance and movement correct without any weights. The addition of weights changes the focus from speed to control and form, meaning that the jab should be slower with less momentum than if you were doing it without weights.

10 high knees into 5 tuck jumps

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

High knees are possibly one of the most deceptively difficult and physically demanding exercises that you can do. The addition of the tuck jumps adds a level of explosive power, and leg strength that go to make this movement an excellent way to build cardio, power, and endurance quickly and effectively.

Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

How to do it: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, run on the spot with your knee reaching a 90-degree angle with each step. Swing the alternate arm in unison with the movement to aid the momentum of the exercise. Once you completed five on each leg, lower into a half squat and then perform five explosive jumps whilst lifting both knees to 90 degrees. Land with soft knees, reset and repeat until the end of the allotted time.

Tip: Maintaining a 90-degree angle with the high knees can be difficult and there is a tendency to end up running on the spot. The key focus here is to build that leg strength and form, so instead of lessening the movement to make it easier, try to maintain height for as long as possible then take a few moments rest if you're unable to maintain the form.

Speed skaters

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

They may look like fun, but speed skaters require a great deal of leg strength, proprioception, and cardio fitness to maintain in order to build stamina. They're also very tricky to get a good form with for beginners.

Muscles worked: Quads, glutes, calves, hamstrings, obliques

How to do it: From a standing position, leap sideways (laterally) landing on your outside foot allowing the momentum to carry your other leg behind it. Touch the ground with the opposite hand to the grounded foot ensuring that the the whole foot is flat against the ground. From that position push up with the foot and leap the opposite way landing on the alternate leg. Repeat the exercise focusing on balance and coordination as you move. Always aim to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement and land with the leg above 90 degrees.

Tip: The movement can be difficult due to the combination of leg strength, balance and coordination and it's important to ensure good form and control throughout the movement as landing incorrectly could cause ankle injuries. Practise the movement by stepping instead of jumping and progress with speed and height as your balance improves.

More workouts

Double crunches

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

When it comes to building core strength and stamina, there aren't many exercises as demanding and as effective as this. However, the movement is more than just strength, with mobility playing a massive factor in how easy you'll find it.

Muscles worked: Upper abs, lower abs, quads

How to do it: Lying completely outstretched on the ground, lift the legs, arms and shoulder towards the center of the body, attempting to keep the legs as straight as possible whilst carrying out the movement. Hold the movement at the top for a second then lower and repeat.

Tip: Carry out the movement in a controlled motion, avoiding the tendency to swing the body to gain momentum. For some, keeping the legs straight will be difficult so add a bend to the knee to make it easier. This bend can be added progressively through the reps to ensure that the exercise can be completed without having to stop.


8 cardio exercises to build stamina

Skipping may seem like one of the simplest forms of exercise out there, but there's a reason that boxers treat it as one of the fundamental components of a training plan. As well as having enormous benefits for cardio, balance and leg strength, carrying out the movement for a prolonged period is extremely physically demanding and has massive implications for building stamina.

Muscles worked: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves

How to do it: Skipping is about efficiency and coordination. The better you are at the movement, the quicker you can go do it, meaning you're getting more gainz in a shorter period of time. Stand with your feet together and push with your forefoot whilst simultaneously swinging the rope under the gap made by your feet. Keep the rope as close to your sides as possible whilst primarily rotating the wrists (and not the whole arm). As you jump, lift the forefoot to create more space underfoot.

Tip: When learning to skip, try to gain more height with your jump to allow extra space for the movement. As you get better, the gap and the effort to jump will lessen making the repeated movement easier and quicker.

Lateral cone hops

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

Moving laterally (sideways), is not something that many of us tend to do in fitness unless we play sports, so laterally training can offer an important and often physically demanding way to build strength and stamina. Not only will it help build neglected muscles, but it can assist in helping prevent injury.

Muscles worked: Calves, glutes, hips

How to do it: Set out some markers on the ground then stand with your feet an inch apart and jump over the first marker whilst keeping the legs together. Land on both feet with soft knees and perform the movement again until all of the markers are complete. From there, switch sides and move back towards the starting point.

Tip: For most people, the ankle is often a week area when it comes to lateral movements so the focus initially is to leap and land with a confident and balanced movement. If you jump too far you're at risk of damaging yourself, so aim for smaller jumps to begin with.

Jumping lunges

8 cardio exercises to build stamina

Sometimes called 'power lunges', a jumping lunge is a demanding and technical movement that will not only build an enormous amount of explosive leg power but will train cardio fitness and balance.

Muscles worked: Hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core

How to do it: From a standing position with the feet a couple of inches apart, jump upwards whilst simultaneously lifting a front leg and pushing back the other. Land on the forefoot and control the movement down to a 90-degree angle with the knee with the back leg outstretched. From there, push up with the forefoot and swap the legs around in mid-air, landing with the legs in opposite positions. Try to maintain a straight back throughout without leaning forwards into the movements.

Tip: The need to maintain balance is made significantly harder due to the fact that the explosive power is coming from just one leg. If you're new to the movement and you're finding that you're wobbly when landing, focus on jumping into the lunge then stepping back out of it and resetting.

Try this workout

Carry out every exercises with 40 seconds rest between each set. At the end of the full workout rest for two minutes then repeat. Complete the whole series of exercises three times.

Note: The majority of exercises focus on good form and controlled movements, not speed.

  • Chest to floor burpee x 10
  • Standing dumbbell punches - 30 seconds
  • 10 high knees into 5 tuck jumps x 4
  • Speed skaters x 20
  • Double crunches x 10
  • Skipping - 45 seconds
  • Lateral cone hop - 45 seconds
  • 2 minute rest

Are you a trainer or studio who would like to feature in an exercise series? If so we’d love to hear what training experience you can bring to our readers. Send us an email at [email protected].

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