Almost all sports and recreational activities require various degrees of strength and endurance. Basketball and soccer players require a combination of low-intensity and high-intensity endurance while Olympic wrestlers need both strength and endurance to outlast and overpower their opponent. The type of strength and endurance workout you need to do would depend on the type of sport or activity you play, exercise experience and goals.
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Basics for Starters
Strength refers to the amount of force your nervous and muscular system can produce to overcome an external force, such as gravity or a weight. Endurance is your ability to sustain multiple muscle contractions over a prolonged period of time. Although both variables can be trained separately, many sports and activities, such as tennis and competitive weightlifting, require both to sustain muscular activity while producing bouts of strength and power. Beginners can start strength training with the multiple-set system to get familiar with the exercise, which involves performing several sets of different exercises with a rest period between sets. For endurance training, you can work on long-term, steady-pace aerobics -- at 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate -- to develop a stronger heart and lungs while building up a resistance to fatigue.
Just as Good as Cardio
Strength endurance is a hybrid form of workout that can substitute typical aerobic exercises, such as running and cycling. Circuit training is one such type of workout that helps you develop muscular endurance while keeping your muscle tone. This method is similar to the multiple-set system except that you perform a series of exercises with minimal rest between to keep your heart rate up. The amount of calories you burn after a circuit-training session can be greater than a typical treadmill workout at the same intensity and duration, according to a Shippensburg University research study that was published in the August 2005 issue of "European Journal of Applied Physiology." Therefore, you don't always have to spend an hour on a treadmill or a step aerobics class to get a dose of cardio.
Marrying Both Workouts
Even if you're an endurance athlete, don't ignore the speed booster that strength training provides. Blending strength workouts with your regular endurance training can enhance your endurance activities. In a review published in the October 2010 issue of "Scandinavian of Medicine and Science in Sports," researchers Aagaard and Andersen from the University of Southern Denmark concluded that strength training can lead to long-term and short-term endurance capacity in top endurance athletes and well-trained individuals, especially when the workout involves high volume and high intensity. Strength training increases the number of fast-twitch muscle fibers that can enhance how quickly you fire your muscles.
Get Tougher with Supersets
Save time and maximize muscular strength, endurance and size with supersets, in which you perform two exercises that train different muscle groups with minimal rest between sets at a higher intensity than circuit training. Perform exercises that train opposing muscle groups, such as hamstrings and quadriceps or chest and back, which allows one group to work while the other rests. You may also do a superset by doing two exercises that train the same muscle group but with different intensities and modalities. For example, perform one set of bench presses at 75 percent of your maximum intensity followed immediately by a set of alternating dumbbell chest press at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum intensity.