The one common denominator among most all athletes, no matter what their sport, is running. Understanding the importance of muscular endurance in sports, specifically in the act of running, can help lead you to better overall performance while participating in your sport. Strong, healthy muscles will help you go the distance, no matter what sport you participate in.
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Whether you are running during a soccer game, playing four quarters of full-court basketball or racing a marathon, your leg muscles provide the strength and endurance you need. Having a well-developed quadriceps and calf muscles go a long way in helping you get through a long game or race. You also have to strengthen and develop the two muscles on the back of the leg, the soleus and gastrocnemius, for endurance and proper running form. "Running Anatomy" by Joe Puleo and Dr. Pat Milroy point out the power from the calves to push forward when running comes from these two muscles.
Aspects of Muscular Endurance
The science of muscular endurance for sports is very in depth, but Tudor O. Bompa, in his study "Strength, Muscular Endurance, and Power in Sports," explains it well saying that endurance, strength and speed are keys to good performance, but the combination of muscular endurance and strength allow an athlete to perform multiple repetitions against resistance for a long period of time. Specifically, sports like distance running, rowing, cycling and cross country skiing have greater requirements of muscular endurance.
Building An Endurance Base
An athlete performing a sport where muscular endurance is of particular importance has to be patient. Puleo and Milroy in "Running Anatomy" suggest that building a solid base of muscular endurance, especially in runners, can take as long as a decade for marathoners and five years for shorter distance runners to reach peak performance.
Strength and Endurance Equal Muscular Endurance
It can't be emphasized enough to an athlete that combining strength and endurance result in muscular endurance. Again referring to Bompa's study, he explains that having muscular endurance is of prime importance to what is termed Cyclic Sports. These are sports that require muscular movements continuously such as running, cycling, cross country, skiing and skating. While muscular endurance is important for any athlete, some sports such as basketball, hockey and soccer require a greater balance of speed and strength, along with endurance.
Achieving Muscular Endurance
To achieve the required muscular endurance to be successful in your sport, you need to do the right training. Puleo and Milroy offer specific strength training movements and workouts to help build muscular endurance through a combination of full-body, core, weight and cardiovascular exercises. An athlete who achieves peak muscular endurance through proper training can overcome even inherited muscular deficiencies to find success in his chosen sport.