Building muscle endurance requires training the endurance components of muscle fibers in targeted ways. You can manipulate several training variables to target muscles for endurance. Although some people naturally have fewer endurance-oriented muscle fibers, you can train your body to adapt to endurance exercise by following a few basic guidelines.
Increase training frequency at regular intervals to improve your body’s recovery from endurance exercise. Training frequency refers to how often you work out. Being progressive means gradually increasing your frequency. For example, if you currently work out three days per week, add a fourth day for the next week, then a fifth the following week.
Increase you training volume gradually to force your body to adapt and gain more physical endurance. Training volume refers to the number of sets and repetitions you do during your workout. For example, if you currently do three sets of each exercise, add an additional set or two per week.
Try German volume training to increase muscle endurance. To do this, perform 10 sets of 10 repetitions on one exercise for each muscle group. Use the same weight on every set and rest only 30 seconds between sets.
Use 15 to 20 repetitions or more on every exercise. Increasing the number of repetitions forces muscles to build new capillaries and increase their oxygen delivery, according to “Xtreme Lean” authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman. For endurance-oriented muscles such as the calves and forearms, you can experiment with sets of 50 to 100 reps to push muscle endurance to new heights.
Add drop-sets to your training program. To do a drop-set, complete one full set of an exercise to exhaustion, then “drop" -- lower the weight -- and immediately do another set to exhaustion. You can drop the weight two or more times to stretch the set even further and target muscle fibers for more muscle endurance.
Add static contractions to your resistance training program. These involve doing a full set of an exercise, then holding the weight in the fully contracted position for as long as you can. For example, on leg extensions you would finish your set by fully contracting the quadriceps muscles (knees locked), while a partner holds a stopwatch to time your static contraction. Try for 20 to 30 seconds, then increase the weight at your next training session if you successfully complete the set.