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Exercises to Improve Muscular Endurance

Exercises to Improve Muscular Endurance
Most exercises can increase muscular endurance. Photo Credit Katrina Wittkamp/Lifesize/Getty Images

Muscular endurance refers to the number of times a muscle can perform a repeated motion without reaching fatigue. The two types of muscular endurance are short-term and long-term. Short-term endurance is used when an exercise or motion lasts from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, while long-term endurance is needed for exercises lasting longer than 2 minutes. Running sprints are an example of short-term endurance, while rowing requires long-term endurance.


Almost any exercise can increase overall muscular endurance. The key component for building muscular endurance is to lift no more than 60 percent of your maximum comfortable weight, do four to eight repetitions and take short rest breaks, up to 90 seconds, between sets. Common exercises used for endurance include biceps curls, barbell dead lifts and hamstring curls.

Biceps Curls

This exercise works your mid-upper arm. You will need weights to do biceps curls, though cans of soup or water bottles will also work. Start by standing up, keeping your spine straight. Your feet should be even with your hips, spread apart, and toes pointing forward. Tuck your elbows, slightly bent, against your sides and hold the weights palm-up. In one smooth, slow motion, bring the weights to your shoulders, breathing out as you do so. Inhale while squeezing your biceps to control the descent of the weights when returning to the starting position.

Barbell Dead Lift

This is a full-body exercise, but is particularly beneficial for the legs, back and buttocks. Begin by standing with your feet just wider than your shoulders, toes pointed forward and the balls of your feet aligned under the bar. Your heels should be on the floor, and your arms should remain straight throughout the exercise. Squat to lift the bar by wrapping one hand facing toward you and the other facing away, and lift the bar to your shins. Keep your shoulders down, chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Stiffen your ab muscles and keep your spine straight. Use your hips and knees to propel you to a standing position as you lift the bar. The bar should rest against your thighs, with your shoulder blades still pressed together and arms straight. Return the bar to the floor by lowering your hips and shoulders simultaneously, while keeping your spine straight. Your knees will shift forward slowly, but shouldn't go too far from the starting alignment.

Hamstring Curls

This exercise works the abs and thighs. Hamstring curls can be performed with an exercise ball, but a common technique is the standing hamstring curl, which requires a resistance band. Anchor one side of the band to something low to the floor and slip the other side around your ankle. Stand straight, feet hips-width apart and shoulders back and down. You might need a straight-backed chair to maintain your balance. Stiffen your core muscles to provide stability as you lift your foot 1 to 2 inches off the floor. While keeping your thighs straight with your body, curl your heel back and upward, toward your buttocks. Lift as high as is comfortable, until your torso starts to shift forward. At that point, you have reached your limit. Inhale as you slowly return to the starting point and repeat as needed for your workout before switching to the other ankle. Over time, you can increase the difficulty of the hamstring curl by using a band with greater resistance, lifting your heel higher and removing anything used to stabilize your balance.

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