To give some context, I am a dancer. I need to be able to perform at dance competitions where our sets are at least 7-8 minutes. As of now, I can only dance up to 5 minutes, but my form breaks a little at the end because I get tired.

I know if I keep on training and practicing at my full potential and incrementally increase the minutes I practice for, then I can definitely dance for 7-8 minutes.

My question is, is there a biological constraint that limits the stamina a human can have? In other words, if I keep on training, could I theoretically dance for 20 minutes continuously? Maybe an hour?

  • people can do this moab200.com so skys the limit i guess.
    – ertert
    May 20, 2019 at 16:12
  • Obviously there is a limit before you die... however this question is unanswerable until you can quantify what you are asking. How do you in particular measure endurance and how much of that would you need to dance for 20 minutes?
    – Raditz_35
    May 20, 2019 at 16:56
  • Stamina in general, is the maximum amount of oxygen used for maximal exercise. My question, I guess is then, can a human continuously increase their maximum oxygen capacity through training?
    – Hid
    May 20, 2019 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


There are basically three different concepts that are related in this context. Strength, endurance and stamina. Many people use stamina and endurance as synonyms, but they have distinct differences.

  • Strength - The amount of weight/force your muscles can withstand or produce.
  • Stamina - The amount of time that your muscles can perform at maximum capacity
  • Endurance - The amount of time your muscles can perform a specific action.

So, if you are all out sprinting, and you can last 15 seconds at that effort and your buddy can last 20, he has more stamina. If you are both jogging, and you can go an hour while he can only go 30 minutes (at the same pacing), you have more endurance.

For your dancing, if you do nothing different, you can increase the time you can spend dancing by decreasing your intensity (Obviously not ideal for a competition). The other way to dance at the same level longer is by increasing your endurance, since you are not performing at 100% all out in competition. This will have a few effects, your body will become more efficient at utilizing glycogen, your body will store more, your lungs and muscles will become more efficient, and your energy cost at a given level will decrease.

As you note, you can increase this time by practicing more/longer, or you can add other endurance training (Swimming, running, rowing, cycling, xcountry skiing, etc). The endurance effects from one will cross over to the other.

This is a simple explanation of a fairly complex topic, there are quite a few different changes that happen with energy pathways, blood vessel growth, oxygen efficiency, mitochondrial changes, etc.

Also, to answer your base question, yes, there is a maximum amount of stamina and endurance you can have, and it is limited to your readily available energy and your stored energy. Without adding any external source of potential energy, it is a finite resource that will run out.

At a maximal effort, you will most likely be exercising anaerobically (without oxygen), so you are limited to at absolute most 30 seconds, also limited by available ATP in the cells. Since the Krebs cycle will replenish ATP in the presence of O2, then you are limited to body stores of glucose/glycogen and in extreme cases, fat/muscle conversion.

  • +1 for Krebs cycle. You don't see that discussed on here often... :) May 20, 2019 at 20:33
  • 1
    @LuxClaridge - Which is a shame.
    – JohnP
    May 20, 2019 at 20:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.