Sometimes the same exercise can produce different results. Exercises that involve using your muscles to lift, push or pick up very heavy items produce muscular strength. Those same exercises done with less weight for longer periods of time will produce muscular endurance. Depending on your level of fitness, you may initially build both strength and endurance simultaneously.
The International Sports Science Association defines strength as is your ability to use muscular force against an external object such as a barbell, the ground or an opponent. Increasing strength means increasing the amount of force you exert. Starting from a position of little to no muscular strength, body-weight exercises will build strength. Exercises like push-ups, squats, and pull-ups will be difficult enough to build muscle. ISSA says that a general rule for strength is 3 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions is good for building strength. Once you can do this without stopping, you can add weight to your regimen. The more weight you add, the more strength will increase.
The same exercises used to build strength can also be used to build endurance. The American Council on Exercise defines endurance as your muscles' and lungs' ability maintain function for the duration of an exercise. The longer you are able to maintain function, the more endurance you have. According to ACE, doing a circuit of exercises builds endurance. Going from one exercise to another with little or no rest will get your body used to working for a long time. For example, if you go from push-ups to squats to pull-ups to running and repeat that circuit 5 times, you will build chest, core and leg muscles and increase cardiovascular endurance with the running.
Mixing the Two
ACE recommends using a mixture of both strength and endurance exercise regiments for maximum results. One day you can do a pure strength workout. This could include exercises like dead lifts, squats and bench press. For the strength days, you should put as much weight as you can lift 8 to 10 times for 3 sets with a minute rest in between. On other days, you can do endurance workouts with exercises like box jumps, push-ups and runs. You can do these in a circuit with little to no rest in between. If you mix this up throughout the week, you will increase both muscular strength and endurance.
Don't Forget to Rest
Whether you are doing strength or endurance exercises, your body needs to rest. If you do not allow your muscles proper time to rest, you will fatigue and neither your strength nor endurance will increase. ISSA recommends resting at least once every 3 to 4 days. This will allow your body time to heal and your muscles time to grow.
- International Sports Science Association: Fitness - A Complete Guide
- American Council on Exercise: Circuit Training Basics