Build Powerful Arms at Home With This 20-Minute Upper Body Endurance Workout

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Endurance isn't just a critical component of your cardio workouts. It makes a difference in your weight-lifting sessions too.

Doing push-ups from Downward Dog targets your shoulders and arms.
Image Credit: RyanJLane/E+/GettyImages

Muscular endurance training builds the muscle differently than lifting for strength or mass. It increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, ultimately helping you train more efficiently, according to the University of New Mexico.

High reps (the number of times you do an exercise without stopping) is the main priority when it comes to muscular endurance. With each exercise, you'll want to perform between 10 to 25 reps. If you're training with body weight only, stick to the higher end of that spectrum.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

The rep tempo is another element you need to consider, especially with the eccentric (or lowering) portion of each exercise, which is where your muscle lengthens, says K. Aleisha Fetters, CSCS. Slowing down this phase makes the exercise more challenging, ultimately improving your muscular endurance.

"Tweak these variables so that, at the end of each exercise, you feel like your working muscles are operating at a 7 to 9 out of 10," Fetters says.

Above all, try to move from exercise to exercise as quickly as possible, taking minimal rest periods. You'll want to maintain controlled and proper form but try to keep the ball rolling as you rotate between moves.

To start building your upper-body muscular endurance at home, give Fetters' 20-minute at-home workout a try.

Curious exactly how many calories you burn during your workouts? Download the MyPlate app for a more accurate and customized estimate.

Superset #1

Do: these two exercises back-to-back for 2 rounds total.

Move 1: Isometric Superman With Y Raise

  1. Begin lying on the floor on your stomach.
  2. Extend your legs out straight and reach your arms overhead.
  3. Lift your legs and arms a few inches off the ground into a Superman and hold this position.
  4. Raise and lower your arms from the ground to straight overhead for 15 to 20 reps.

Move 2: Eccentric Push-Up

  1. Begin in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Bend your elbows at about a 45-degree angle from your ribs and slowly lower your body toward the ground for a 3-second count.
  3. Pause for a moment once your chest hovers just above the floor.
  4. Exhale and press into the ground to return to the top of the push-up.
  5. Repeat this eccentric push-up for 12 to 15 reps.

Chair-Seat Incline Row

Do: 3 rounds of 12 to 15 reps

  1. Lie on the ground underneath a chair so that your chest aligns with the edge of the seat. Extend your legs straight out. Grip the seat of the chair with both hands.
  2. On an exhale, row your body up toward the chair, keeping your heels on the ground. As you row, keep your elbows close to your sides.
  3. Extend your arms again and return to the starting position.

Tip

If you want to modify this exercise, you can place your feet flat on the ground and raise your knees up, Fetters says. This will lighten the load of the exercises.

Superset #2

Do: these two exercises one after the other for 2 sets.

Move 1: Inverted Shoulder Press

  1. Begin in Downward Dog with your hips raised up toward the sky, feet and hands flat on the ground. Think of creating an inverted V. Let your neck relax and keep your core active throughout this exercise.
  2. Bend at your elbows and lower your head toward the ground, maintaining the Downward Dog shape.
  3. Once your head hovers just above the ground, press into the ground and, using your shoulders, return to the starting position.
  4. Perform this move for 15 to 20 reps.

Tip

You can make this move more challenging if you elevate your legs onto either a chair or couch. Keep your hips hiking up toward the ceiling.

Move 2: Incline Triceps Extensions

  1. Come into an incline high plank position with your hands on the edge of a couch or sturdy chair. Position your hands a bit shorter than shoulder-width apart and avoid hiking or sinking your hips.
  2. With your elbows facing the ground, begin to bend at the elbows, lowering your chest toward the couch.
  3. When your chest hovers just above or touches the edge, use your triceps to push back up into the starting position.
  4. Repeat this motion for 12 to 15 reps.

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