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How to increase muscle endurance

How to increase muscle endurance

Muscle endurance, the muscle’s ability to produce and maintain force over a set period of time. An integral part of you exercise routine should include some endurance training, as creating muscle endurance may lead to an increased stabilization in the core and joints. Indeed, this is why muscle endurance should be a precursor to hypertrophy (gain in muscle size), strength and power training.

On the infographics you’ll notice the acute variables needed to work for building muscular endurance. Number of sets, repetitions, exercises performed as well as the tempo and rest interval is all to be considered when training for muscle endurance:

  • Sets: 1-3
  • Repetitions: 12-20
  • Number of Exercises: 3-5
  • Intensity: 50-70% of 1RM (repetition maximum)
  • Tempo: (4/2/1) (Eccentric/Isometric/Concentric)
  • Rest Interval: 30 – 60 seconds

I think most of the variables are quite easy to understand (if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!), but I’d just like to emphasize on tempo and intensity. Before I explain the tempo variable, take a second and think of a bicep curl. The upward movement, which leads to elbow flexion, is known as the concentric movement of the curl. The downward movement, or when your elbow extends, is known as the eccentric movement of the curl. If you were to keep your elbow at 90 degrees and not cause any movement in and around the elbow joint, then that is considered the isometric movement. So for exercises targeting muscle endurance, the tempo should consist of 4/2/1 seconds for the eccentric, isometric and concentric movements, respectively.

On to the intensity, let’s say the maximum weight you can carry for a bicep curl (allowing you to complete 1 repetition) is 20kg. For muscle endurance, lifting anywhere between 10-14kg (20 x 0.5; 20 x 0.7) makes up the weight needed to work at the particular mentioned (50-70%).

Now I’ve dealt with many clients who’ve asked for advice on how to get ‘toned’. Well, my solution is always endurance training. Solely from a weight-lifting perspective, super-sets are excellent for endurance training.

Super-sets are essentially comprised of performing one exercise and immediately following it by a different exercise without any rest in between. People might argue that super-sets are geared more towards muscle growth. While this may partly be true, I still think it’s a great way to enhance muscle endurance adaptations, especially if you are performing 12-20 repetitions per exercise.

Think about it…let’s say you do 15 reps of bicep curls and immediately follow it by 15 reps of push-ups. Yes, while you will gain some size, you’re also training the muscle to endure performing successive exercises at high repetitions while also withstanding that burning sensation experienced (otherwise known as the buildup of lactate acid). Overtime, this type of training will optimize your muscle endurance and allow you to work successively between exercises and sets with a higher fatigue threshold (i.e. taking more time for your to feel tired).

With all this being said, don’t take endurance training lightly, ironically speaking. It’s a great foundation to build from and definitely a good way to optimize other types of training that you may want to get into in the later stages of your regimen (size, strength and power training). Building a solid foundation is key!

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