You don't have to be a top-level athlete to benefit from developing your muscular endurance. Improving the stamina of your muscles can impact your energy, your daily routines and the quality of your workouts.
The longevity component of muscular fitness is endurance, or the ability of a muscle to exert force over a given period of time. In order to develop muscular endurance, you need to engage in activities that work all the muscles in your body, at least two to three times a week.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate- or high-intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week. Incorporating this type of movement into your overall workouts will help develop your muscular endurance.
Muscular Endurance Exercises
Strength training with free weights and machines is a great way to incorporate muscular endurance exercises into your workout routine. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, resistance training develops muscular endurance by targeting the ability of a muscle or muscle group to contract repeatedly over an extended period of time.
- Load: lower than 70 percent of one-rep max
- Volume: two to four sets of 10 of 25 repetitions
- Rest period: 30 seconds to one minute between sets
Using lighter weights and higher reps is the most common way to build muscular endurance with resistance training. However, you can also shorten the rest periods between sets or try super-setting two different exercises.
Use Your Bodyweight
Use your bodyweight to perform muscular endurance exercises. Bodyweight training has become a popular method of exercising due to its convenience — no equipment required — and the ability to tailor the training to various fitness levels. There are countless exercises to choose from, so designing a program should be relatively easy.
To get started, pick from these bodyweight exercises: squats, lunges, push-ups, dips (off of a chair), abdominal crunches, burpees, planks, glute bridge, squat jumps, superman.
Do each exercise for the desired amount of time and reps, moving from one to the next without a break. When you get to the end, take a 30 to 60 second break and repeat. Cycle through two to three times.
Add Some Circuits
Circuit training uses muscular endurance exercises that keep your body in motion, with very little rest. A typical workout involves completing a series of strength training exercises, one after the other, with a rest break at the end of each circuit.
Complete the following circuit two to three times, with a 30- to 60-second rest between circuits. Repetitions and weight will vary based on fitness level, but aim to keep the weight low to moderate and the reps high (12 to 15).
- Squats (barbell or dumbbell)
- Walking lunges
- Jog on treadmill for five minutes
- Lat pull down machine
- Chest press (machine, barbell or dumbbell)
- Abdominal crunches
- Cycle on upright bike for five minutes
- AceFitness.org: "How to Select the Right Rest Intervals and Post-Training Recovery for Your Clients"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Top 10 Things to Know About the Second Edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- Physiological Reports: "The Effect of Training Volume and Intensity on Improvements in Muscular Strength and Size in Resistance-Trained Men"