Everything You Need to Know About Muscular Endurance Training

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Last Updated:
April 1, 2024

Building strength and enhancing your physical fitness with less effort seems too good to be true. Muscular endurance training can help you get started without going to failure on every set. 

Muscle endurance, or lifting less weight for a higher number of repetitions, has long been relegated to individuals trying to avoid the “bulk” of weight lifting. But it has unique benefits for beginners and advanced lifters alike, with added boosts in performance for athletes and protective health effects for chronic health conditions. 

Here, you’ll learn how to include muscular endurance in your exercise program and how AIM7 can help you stay on track toward your goals.

Key Takeaways:

What is Muscular Endurance?

Muscular endurance is the ability to sustain or repeat muscle contractions over a long period of time or with higher repetitions. It’s not a test of maximal strength but of how long a muscle can endure. 

Your muscle tissue contains both fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers. Each person has a different ratio of fibers, which may make you more powerful or more fatigue-resistant. Your workouts should target both attributes with high-intensity lifts with a higher amount of weight and sustained endurance lifts over a longer period.

Including muscular strength and endurance workouts also balances your skills so you’re ready for all your daily activities. Not only will everyday life feel more manageable, but you’ll also enhance your long-term health and wellness. 

5 Benefits of Muscular Endurance Training

Your exercise routine should support your lifestyle. Muscle endurance training benefits do just that by enhancing the following aspects of health and performance:  

  1. Functional capacity and quality of life: Muscular endurance training will help you carry groceries, vacuum, and garden so you don’t get tired before you finish. The ability to continue performing these activities of daily living will keep you living independently for longer, improving quality of life along the way (1,2). 

  1. Athletic performance: In sports where you perform repetitive movement over an extended period of time or a long distance (like running, cycling, or swimming), developing your muscular endurance will help you resist fatigue and recover faster between exercise bouts (3). 

  1. Injury prevention and pain reduction: Muscle endurance training helps build foundational strength and stability to support joints. Research shows that both endurance training and isometric training may help prevent injury in sports and everyday activities and reduce joint pain (4,5). 

  1. Longevity: Maintaining your endurance can pay off in the long run. In one study performed on older adults, researchers found that low repetitive strength of the quadriceps (muscle endurance) predicted lower extremity disability and increased the risk of premature mortality by 21% in men and up to 31% in women (6). 

  1. Disease prevention and treatment: Strength training, including muscular endurance workouts, is crucial in reducing your risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood pressure, and other important risk factors (7-9). Endurance training also improved muscular health and quality of life and was related to lower rates of depression in cancer survivors (10). 

The sooner you start physical activity, the greater health benefits you’ll see; however, muscle endurance training is an accessible way to add strength training to your routine, so it’s never too late to start working out. 

You can get started today with the support and instruction for muscle endurance resistance training on the AIM7 app. 

You can employ progressive overload models to build towards advanced goals safely and effectively. Here are just a few ways to add endurance training into your routine.

Improve Muscular Endurance with a Personalized Workout Plan

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AIM7’s proprietary algorithms adjust your plan daily to how your body adapts to stress. This leads to rapid improvements in fitness and muscle gains and limits burnout and injuries.

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Muscular Endurance Training for All Fitness Levels

Muscular endurance is the base of any solid program. The sustained muscle contraction you perform with endurance work creates a foundation for muscle hypertrophy, muscular strength, and muscular power. 

Bodyweight Training 

The easiest place to start is bodyweight training. Moving your own body weight against gravity provides enough stimulus to the muscle fibers to begin making gains as a beginner. Bodyweight exercises such as bodyweight squats, push-ups, lunges, and sit-ups, performed together, target different muscle groups to create a full-body workout that boosts muscular endurance without ever lifting a set of dumbbells. See AIM7’s bodyweight training guide to create a workout based on your needs. 

Isometric Training 

Isometric training, or holding a position so the muscle length does not change, is an effective way to build muscular endurance. Holding a wall sit, plank, or dead hang from a bar can humble the most advanced lifters. Isometric exercises are also a great way to spice up your current resistance training routine by adding a hold to the last rep in a set. 

Muscle Endurance Strength Training

Incorporating muscle endurance in your resistance training program aims to challenge your muscle tissue at lower loads with a higher number of reps using traditional weights like dumbbells, a barbell, resistance bands, or a kettlebell. The National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests aiming to complete three or more sets of 15 or more exercise reps with a load that is 50% or less of your one-rep max (1RM) (11). 

For example, if you have a 1RM of 270 lbs on a squat, a muscular endurance workout would likely include 3-4 sets of 20 reps at around 135 lbs, with 30-second rest periods between sets. For a personalized endurance training program customized to your current fitness level and goal, check out the strength training features on the AIM7 app. 

Incorporating Muscular Endurance into Your Overall Fitness Plan

Muscular endurance work provides a new focus to your training, so you don’t get bored or stale in your program or increase your risk of injury, always chasing new strength goals. There are many ways to include muscular endurance training in a holistic weight training plan that helps build muscle, strength, and cardiovascular endurance. 

If you’re doing upper body and lower body splits: 

Monday: upper body strength + cardio

Tuesday: lower body strength 

Wednesday: cardio

Thursday: upper body endurance + cardio

Friday: lower body endurance 

Saturday: cardio or flexibility

Sunday: rest

If you’re doing total-body workouts: 

Monday: full-body endurance training (bodyweight + 50% 1RM weight lifting)

Tuesday: cardio 

Wednesday: full-body power training 

Thursday: cardio or flexibility 

Friday: full-body strength training 

Saturday: rest 

Sunday: cardio 

If you’re tight on time, circuit training can help you stack exercises with minimal rest in between. You can also recover faster from muscular endurance exercises. So, while strength and power workouts require more organized recovery strategies, you can keep your momentum in your fitness program following an endurance workout.

Conclusion

Incorporating muscular endurance training into your fitness regimen offers numerous benefits, regardless of your fitness level. It can improve your functional capacity, enhance athletic performance, reduce the risk of injury, promote longevity, and aid in disease prevention and treatment. 

With the right guidance and tools, like those provided by AIM7, you can start reaping the rewards of muscular endurance training today and set yourself on a path to better health and fitness for the long term.

Get Your Personalized Workout Plan, Today

Download the AIM7 app today to start your journey toward superior muscular endurance and achieve your ultimate fitness goals.

References for Muscular Endurance

  1. Musculoskeletal Fitness, Health Outcomes and Quality of Life
  2. Combined Strength and Endurance Training Improves Health-Related Quality of Life in Healthy Middle-Aged and Older Adults
  3. Under the Hood: Skeletal Muscle Determinants of Endurance Performance
  4. Isometric exercise induces analgesia and reduces inhibition in patellar tendinopathy
  5. Isotonic and Isometric Exercise Interventions Improve the Hamstring Muscles’ Strength and Flexibility: A Narrative Review
  6. Association of Muscle Endurance, Fatigability, and Strength With Functional Limitation and Mortality in the Health Aging and Body Composition Study 
  7. Exercise training and resting blood pressure: a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
  8. Impact of Endurance and Resistance Training on Skeletal Muscle Glucose Metabolism in Older Adults
  9. Resistance Exercise Training in Individuals With and Without Cardiovascular Disease: 2023 Update: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
  10. Cancer treatment-induced alterations in muscular fitness and quality of life: the role of exercise training
  11. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4ed

Contents
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Cite this page:

Reiner, S. “Everything You Need to Know About Muscular Endurance Training” AIM7.com, February 1, 2024, www.aim7.com/exercise/resistance-training/muscular-endurance

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