Cardiovascular Endurance Vs. Muscular Endurance

Man running on track

The overall heath of your heart determines cardiovascular fitness, and the length of time your muscles can exert energy while moving continuously determines muscular fitness. If walking up a flight of stairs elevates your heart rate and leaves you short of breath, your cardiovascular system is not strong, and you must develop cardiovascular endurance to improve heart health. If you cannot effectively perform strength-training exercises, such as pushups, lunges and squats, you’ll need to build muscular endurance to build muscular stamina.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is measured by your muscles’ ability to resist fatigue. Unlike muscular strength, which determines the amount of power you can exert with a single effort, muscular endurance affects the number of times you can repeat a strength-training activity before your muscles begin to tire. Muscles weaken for a variety of reasons, such as illness, injury and poor nutrition, so it is important to consult your physician before engaging in muscle-strengthening activities. If your doctor determines that your muscular weakness is due to muscle inactivity, develop your muscles by performing workouts that build muscular strength and stamina.

Developing Muscular Endurance

To develop muscular endurance, you must repeatedly perform strength-training activities while gradually adding resistance. For example, you can start the process of building muscular endurance in your biceps by performing three, 12-repetition sets of bicep curls using 10-pound weights. Each week, increase the weight of your dumbbells by two pounds and add one additional set of bicep curls to your routine; this gradually enhances the amount of power your biceps can exert and the length of time they can exert that power. Use this strategy with each strength-building activity you perform to build muscular endurance throughout your body. Eventually, you might be able to swim longer, run faster, lift heavier weights and perform a variety of physical tasks more efficiently.

Cardiovascular Endurance

The cardiovascular system includes the heart, arteries and veins. When your heart is strong, it pumps blood throughout your body efficiently, giving your organs and muscles the oxygen they need to work optimally. When your heart is weak, its pumping ability is poor, and your organs and muscles do not have enough energy to sustain you during physical activities. Building cardiovascular endurance positively affects your overall health. Without it, your organs won’t function as well and you’ll have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Your heart is a muscle, and like all muscles, it adapts to the demands placed on it. To build cardiovascular endurance, you must perform aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging or running regularly while gradually increasing the duration of your cardiovascular workouts.

Developing Cardiovascular Endurance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise weekly. This equals 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days per week, and this is the minimum amount of aerobic exercise required to sustain cardiovascular health. To build cardiovascular endurance, increase your cardiovascular training by 10 minutes weekly. After two months, you'll be performing over 230 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, your heart will be stronger and you'll have more stamina and energy. Continue to add at least 10 minutes weekly to your cardiovascular routine until you reach your desired level of cardiovascular fitness.