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.
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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 Center 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.
Strength Training for Muscular Endurance
Strength training with free weights and machines is a great way to develop muscular endurance. 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.
The American College of Sports Medicine says training for muscular endurance with weights can be done by varying the following principles:
- Load: lower than 70 percent of one-rep max
- Volume: two to four sets of 10 of 25 repetitions
- Rest period: 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets
Using lighter weight 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.
Bodyweight Training for Muscular Endurance
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 you started, pick from these bodyweight exercises: squats, lunges, push-ups, dips (off of a chair), abdominal crunches, burpees, planks, glute bridge, squat jumps, superman.
HOW TO DO IT: 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 30-60 second break and repeat. Cycle through two to three times.
Circuit Training for Muscular Endurance
Circuit training develops muscular endurance by keeping 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.
HOW TO DO IT: 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).
The exercises: Squats (barbell or dumbbell), walking lunges, jog on treadmill for 5 minutes, lat pull down machine, chest press (machine, barbell or dumbbell), abdominal crunches, cycle on upright bike for 5 minutes, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.
- AceFitness.org: When Strength Training, Is It Better To Do More Reps With Lighter Weights or Fewer Reps with Heavier Weights?
- American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual: Muscular Strength and Endurance; W. Westcott