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Best Exercises to Increase Your Muscular Endurance

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 1/30/2010

We tend to think about muscles in terms of strength more than in terms of endurance, but muscle endurance is just as important for any athlete. Whether you're a sprinter or a long distance runner, these exercises are sure to improve your sport.

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    Muscle endurance exercises help athletes to excel in their chosen sport. The power and strength that's required to execute sports-specific movements is increased, and the muscles can perform better without becoming as fatigued. When muscles repeat movements over and over, lactic acid builds up, and muscles become fatigued. This is why muscle endurance training is important.

    To build muscle endurance, circuit training using free weights or machines can be performed at a moderately light weight, using higher repetitions. These workouts can be customized to meet the needs of any athlete. In addition to circuit training, which is performed every other day, or 2-3 times per week, training should include long periods of practice in doing what you do.

    If you're a runner, build muscle endurance by running. Swimmers need plenty of swimming in their training programs. In addition, include 2-3 circuit training sessions to build muscle endurance.

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    Short Term Muscle Endurance

    Short-term muscular endurance exercises benefit athletes who participate in sporting events that require muscle use that lasts between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Think track and field events, like the 50-meter dash or sports where a lot of quick spurts of energy is needed, such as basketball or swimming sprints.

    Sports that require short-term muscle endurance require the muscles to be able to perform at peak level for short durations of time without fatiguing or slowing down before the action is complete. Although a 100 meter dash is over in seconds, leg muscles can become tired enough to slow down before the end of the race without short-term muscle endurance.

    For short-term muscular endurance, you will lift at approximately 40-60% max load, for 1 to 2 minute circuits. Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets. The repetitions should be performed at a fast rate, and circuit training sessions should take place 2-3 times per week. Set up circuits that mimic the movements performed in the sport of choice as much as possible.

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    Long Term Muscle Endurance

    Activities that require muscles to be used over a time period longer than 2 minutes benefit from long term muscle endurance training. Athletes who participate in events like marathons, long distance swimming, or cycling events need this type of training. Muscles must be able to keep going for long periods of time during these activities. Without muscle endurance, an athlete's legs would give out before the end of the race.

    Long-term muscular endurance workouts require lighter weights than short term muscle endurance. Use 30-40% max load. You will use more repetitions, and less rest periods between each exercise. Rest periods will also be shorter, since the goal for long-term muscle endurance training is to condition the muscles for long periods of repetitive use.

    Muscular endurance exercises are useful training tools for all athletes. Whether you want to develop explosive short-term muscle endurance or need long-lasting muscle endurance to run long distance races, muscle endurance circuit training is the answer.

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    Resources

    1. Sports Fitness Advisor: http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/muscular-endurance.html

    2. Navy News: http://www.defence.gov.au/news/NAVYNEWS/EDITIONS/4708/health/story01.htm