Strong, muscular arms are impressive, but it's equally impressive if you have arms that can endure a lot of stress. Many movements in the gym and in sports require your arms to sustain stress. Even runners need to have endurance in their arm muscles so that they can pump them with every stride.
To get better muscular endurance in your arms, you have to train through a little bit of discomfort. The type of training that improves the muscular endurance of your arm is strength training using lighter weights and higher reps.
How to Train for Muscle Endurance
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends using weight that's less than 70 percent of your one rep max to train for muscular endurance. Your one rep max is the maximum amount of weight that you can lift for one repetition. For your biceps, for example, that would be the maximum amount of weight you can curl.
However, that's simply a guideline. The more reps you do in a set the less weight you should use. If you plan to do 25 reps in a set, you'll be using relatively light weight. If you can do more than 25 reps with a weight before fatiguing, you should increase the weight to make sure that you're still challenging yourself.
After you've picked a weight to use and an amount of reps for your endurance training, choose the amount of sets for each exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing two to four sets per exercise as a guideline.
The exercises you choose should work the most important arm muscles: your biceps, triceps and shoulders. Combined, these muscles do the majority of movement for your arms.
For arm endurance, weights are the best place to start because you can focus your training on specific muscles.
Isolate your biceps with exercises like the dumbbell curl and barbell curl. For both exercises, you start standing with the weight in your hands.
Keep your elbows tucked in by your side and lift the weight up, bending your elbows, with your palms up. Raise the weight until it's near your shoulders and then slowly lower it back down to your sides.
Bench dips are one of the best exercises for triceps muscle endurance. Start sitting on a bench and plant your hands on the bench next to your hips. Walk your feet out until your butt is in front of the bench. Then, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and push yourself back up.
To work your deltoid muscles, start standing with dumbbells in your hands. With your elbows straight, raise your arms up in front of you until they're parallel to the ground. Then, raise your arms out to the side. Combined, that counts as one rep. Keep alternating the two movements.
Other than weight lifting, battle ropes are a very useful way to increase your arm endurance. Battle ropes are large ropes with handles that you can slam or twirl in circles. Unlike weights, where you count repetitions, it's better to keep track of time when doing rope slams.
To use the battle ropes, slam them for 30 seconds to one minute, then rest and repeat for two to four sets. Try to use just your arm muscles to move the ropes, instead of momentum from your upper body.
While it might not seem like much weight, jumping rope can certainly take a toll on your arm muscles. This is more of a pure endurance activity, since it takes a minute or two before you really start to work your arm muscles. For a good jump roping workout, jump actively for two minutes and rest for one minute, jumping as fast as you can during the two minutes. Do this for two to four sets.
- ACSM: Resistance Training for Health and Fitness
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults.
- Medscape: Progression Models in Resistance Training for Healthy Adults
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Muscular Endurance Training