For some people, success in the gym can be measured by the size of their muscles and the numbers on the weights they can lift. However, many of these people don’t think about how long they can lift these weights, a trait known as muscle endurance. It is a mistake to overlook this element, especially when you are going to the gym to improve your athletic performance.
For more information on the importance of muscle endurance and how you can improve yours, we spoke to Ben Walker, personal trainer and owner of Anywhere Fitness.
What is Muscle Endurance?
Muscle endurance is the ability to continuously contract a muscle against a specific movement or resistance. The more repetitions that are done without muscle failure, the greater the endurance. This is not to be confused with muscle strength, which is best achieved when lifting weights, where the muscle fails between eight and 1
Athletes or fitness enthusiasts who want to avoid bulky looks and want to keep their muscles lean, flexible, and with the ability to move over their full range of motion during athletic performance should focus on muscle endurance as opposed to strength.
How do you improve your muscular endurance?
You want to avoid being in the target zone for hypertrophy [building muscle mass]So focus on lifting less weight and doing more repetitions. When you train for a specific sporting activity, you imitate the movements you made against resistance on match day. For example, a basketball player who is constantly jumping off both feet might want to include high reps and variations of jumps and plyometrics in order to jump high for the duration of a game. Aim for an average of 15 to 40 reps for three to four sets of a particular exercise to increase your muscular endurance for that particular movement.
Another way to increase endurance is by holding exercises like planks and wall sitting. It is good to include these along with high-repetition exercises, as the muscle will be contracted throughout the duration of the routine and endurance will be achieved through a different method of contraction.
It’s also important to avoid long periods of rest between sets. Improvement in endurance is best achieved when the heart rate is increased and your muscle tissue is forced to recover faster. Try to limit your rest periods to a minute or less if you can. Those looking to achieve muscle strength will typically rest between a minute and two, but we want to stay in the endurance zone.
What kind of exercises should people start with?
In the beginning, it’s easier to increase muscle endurance by focusing on a specific area before adding more muscle groups in a single movement. Take part in an exercise that primarily targets one muscle group and perform the workout using several variations. Again, focus on doing as many reps as you can until you fail.
Take pectoralis major, for example [in the chest] as a single muscle. Start with an exercise like chest pressing on a weight machine. Adjust the load for about 20 to 40 repetitions. If you failed on this fixture on your last repetition, immediately adjust the load to half the weight and complete more reps until failure as soon as possible. This is known as a drop set and is a great technique for increasing muscle endurance. You can add drop sets to any free weight or machine exercise as you gradually improve your overall endurance.
Holding exercises and body weight exercises are also important for building muscle endurance. Start again with basic exercises that target a single muscle group primarily. Make it a goal to hold a wall for as long as possible. Write down your time and try to keep beating it. You can increase the intensity over time by maintaining the weight as you exercise.
Holding exercises can also be performed with free weights. Do an exercise like a side lift. Practice holding the concentric phase for as long as possible with your arms fully extended 90 degrees to your sides and the dumbbells at shoulder level. Take your time and rest a minute before trying again. Apply this training method to the concentric phase of a series of free weight exercises to target different muscle groups in the lower and upper body.
How can you test your own muscle endurance?
Just take a single exercise and repeat as many reps as possible at your own pace until you fail. Pushups are great for this.
You can also judge your stamina by time. Set a time, e.g. B. 45 or 60 seconds, and do as many repetitions as possible during this time. Then repeat it. The first test indicates the strength element of your muscular endurance, while the second highlights your skills in terms of intensity and recovery. So if on the second test you find that you are weaker, you may need to increase the speed in your workout or slightly reduce the rest periods.