How to Build Muscular Endurance
Muscle fibers are made up of many types of cells called myofibers. Myofibers are like little muscles that make up your muscles.
They contract when you exert force against them, but they don’t grow larger or stronger than other muscles because they aren’t very strong themselves. A muscle fiber’s job is to provide resistance so that the rest of the body can move faster and with greater efficiency.
The main type of muscle fibers are slow twitch fibres. Slow twitch fibres have a high endurance, meaning they last longer before fatigue sets in.
When you run at a fast pace for long periods of time, your muscles start to tire out. Your legs will feel tired after only a few minutes of running and then get weaker and less efficient over the course of several hours until you need to stop and recover.
Fast twitch fibres are different from slow twitch fibres in that they produce more power during short bursts of activity. You might think that if you could increase the amount of fast twitch fibres, you would be able to perform better and faster for longer periods of time.
However, it turns out that increasing the number of fast twitch fibres doesn’t necessarily lead to increased performance. Studies show that there is no correlation between the size or type of muscle fibers and athletic ability (1).
The theory behind increasing muscle fibers is that you can increase the number of fast twitch fibres in the body by lifting heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights causes tiny tears in your muscles, which then repair themselves.
Newer studies show that weight lifting doesn’t necessarily increase the number of fast twitch muscle fibers as originally thought (2).
The good news is that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow your muscle fibers are. Having more slow twitch fibers does not limit your ability to run faster, or lift heavier weights (3).
Some of the best sprinters in the world have a high percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers.
Muscular endurance is an important aspect of sports and athletic performance for many reasons. For one, muscular fatigue can be dangerous.
Going to failure or pushing your body so hard that you can’t lift the weight one more time can lead to over-training and injuries. Muscular endurance is also important for activities that require prolonged periods of activity, such as basketball and football. And although muscle fibers don’t dictate performance, they still play an important role in overall health and well being.
Muscle loss is natural as we age. The best way to combat the loss of muscle mass is to perform resistance training.
Muscular endurance will not only prevent injury and over-training, it will also improve your overall strength and energy levels.
How to Train for Muscular Endurance
The key to training for muscular endurance is to make the exercise challenging without going to failure. Muscular failure is the point at which you can’t complete another rep no matter how hard you try.
It is important to not go to failure when training for muscular endurance because going to failure on every set will cause you to over-train and can lead to injury.
A good way of determining if you are going to failure is the “talk test.” The talk test works like this: If you’re working out with a partner, you should be able to speak in short sentences while working out (tell them you will be ready to go in 10 minutes, that kind of thing).
If you are working out alone, you should be able to speak words, even if it is one word at a time (on the next set, you might only be able to say “weight”).
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at some sample workout routines.
Sample Workout Routine #1
This is a good routine for beginners who want to increase muscular endurance without putting too much stress on the body.
Warm up for 3-5 minutes on the treadmill, exercise bike, or by jogging in place. Complete 2 sets of each exercise, and do 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Rest for 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets. Complete a total of 3 to 5 sets per exercise. After the last set of each exercise, perform 4 to 6 “drop sets.” A drop set consists of the last 4 to 6 reps of an exercise being done with a heavier weight.
Perform this routine at least three times a week on non-consecutive days.
Monday: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
Warm up for 3-5 minutes on the treadmill or exercise bike.
Sources & references used in this article:
The Primacy of Unilateral Training for Athletes by R Stead – breakingmuscle.com
Functional training for athletes at all levels: workouts for agility, speed and power by DP Riley – 1977 – Leisure Press
Jumping into plyometrics by JC Radcliffe – 2007 – books.google.com
Raising our athletic daughters: How sports can build self-esteem and save girls’ lives by DA Chu – 1998 – books.google.com
The Periodization of 4 and 6 Weeks Circuit Training and Age to Improve the Aerobic Endurance of Basketball Beginner Athletes by J Zimmerman – 2011 – books.google.com
The ultimate athlete by MRD Umar, M Tomoliyus – 2nd Yogyakarta International Seminar …, 2018 – atlantis-press.com
Genetically modified athletes: Biomedical ethics, gene doping and sport by G Leonard – 2000 – books.google.com