“How many sit-ups can you do?”
Do you remember way back when, when you were tested every year in grade school for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award Program?
That was a great program…too bad they’ve done away with it. (That’s a whole other story I’ll tell in a future article!)
Anyway, your teacher would ask you to do as many sit-ups as you could in a minute. You might not have understood why you needed to do this, but they were actually testing your muscular endurance. To be more precise, they were testing your abdominal muscular endurance.
If you want to start building your muscular endurance today, so that you’re healthier and more functional as you age…join our NEW 21-Day Challenge!
What Is Muscular Endurance?
Muscular Endurance refers to the ability of your muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly contract over a long period of time without fatiguing.
Similar to Cardiovascular Endurance (Component #1), Muscular Endurance relies more on aerobic metabolism and many activities which also improve Cardiovascular Endurance. However, Muscular Endurance refers to your muscular system whereas Cardiovascular Endurance refers to your circulatory and respiratory systems.
For an example of the difference between muscular and cardiovascular endurance, think about climbing a couple flights of stairs.
If you can do the stairs without huffing and puffing, that would indicate you have good cardiovascular endurance. However, if you need to make frequent stops on the way up the stairs because your legs are fatigued that would be poor muscular endurance.
You were not stopping because you were out of breath…rather, you stopped because your leg muscles were tired.
Why Is Muscular Endurance Important?
If your muscular endurance is poor, you may have to take frequent rests and not be able to complete a task, just as in the example above.
If you push yourself to finish climbing the stairs you will probably end up with very sore muscles or even a “pulled” or “strained” muscle (injuries). Your muscles may be sore for the next few days, and you may find it difficult to walk up the steps the next day.
However, if you have good muscular endurance, you will be able to continue up and down the steps every day.
Your muscles will be less likely to get injured, and you will be able to recover faster…so you can continue using the stairs without worries in the future.
Benefits of Muscular Endurance
Besides making work and everyday activities easier, muscular endurance has other health benefits, which include:
Decreased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Improving your muscular endurance has a direct correlation to reduced episodes of cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise has a favorable effect on many of the established risk factors for heart disease:
- Increase in exercise tolerance
- Reduction in body weight
- Reduction in blood pressure
- Reduction in bad (LDL and total) cholesterol
- Increase in good (HDL) cholesterol
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
Stronger Bones, Tendons and Ligaments: Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to be effective in increasing bone density and strengthening tendons and ligaments. Developing strong bones reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis and decreases the risk of bone fractures.
Improved Body Composition: Building muscle helps improve your metabolism. The more muscle tissue you have, the faster your metabolism is and the faster you burn off those extra calories, keeping them from being stored as fat. Having more muscle tissue lowers your body fat percentage.
Decreased Risk of Injury: Improving muscular endurance decreases the risk of falling and other related injuries. Developing strong bones and muscles can help to reduce the severity of falls.
How Long & How Often Should I Perform Muscular Endurance Training?
Many professional organizations have one thing in common when it comes to muscular endurance training: they all use the FITT Principle. FITT stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.
When it comes to putting together a program to improve your muscular endurance, we like to implement the FITT Principle as follows:
Frequency: Weight train 2-4 times per week.
Intensity: when lifting weights, train to fatigue and in general, perform 15-20 repetitions during the workout.
Time: A total workout can be about 30-60 minutes.
Type: An activity that allows the muscles to perform a physical task over a period of time without becoming fatigued (Resistance training, yoga, Pilates, etc.).
Beginning a muscular endurance training program can be confusing. Knowing how many exercises to perform, how many sets to do (is it 2,3 or 4?), how many reps to perform and with what amount of weight, when to increase weights, and how long to rest in between sets…it’s all an exact science.
Every exercise you do requires a different amount of weight and you need to learn how to perform each exercise correctly.
Using too much weight, not resting enough between sets, or lifting weights without proper form can all lead to less-than-desirable results…and even injury.
If you need help starting an exercise program that includes muscular endurance training an experienced, certified personal trainer can help teach you how to begin properly. Doing so will help you get the best results in the shortest amount of time without getting injured.
Not Sure What to Do? We Can Help!
Join us at our NEW 21-Day Personal Training Program in Monmouth County, NJ. The Program, which will be happening at our studio locations in Ocean Township and Little Silver, will teach you all you need to know about the 5 components of physical fitness.
Muscular Endurance training is one of those components. When it comes to Muscular Endurance Training we will:
- Show you how to warm up properly
- Determine how many sets and reps you should be doing
- Set your beginning weights for each exercise
- Demonstrate and teach proper form for each exercise
- Determine how long and how often to workout
- Move from beginner to intermediate or advanced
- Set up a Muscular Endurance training workout for you to follow
During the Program, you will work with an educated, experienced personal trainer who will take you through a workout in each of the 5 components to make sure you thoroughly understand each one.
In just 21 days’ time, you’ll have a complete understanding of each component — and a balanced workout will be written for you to use on your own once the program is complete.