Facts About Muscular Endurance

Couple jogging in park

Without muscular endurance, performing activities that require you to continuously use specific muscles is challenging. You exhibit your level of muscular endurance when you carry heavy packages up multiple flights of stairs, take a 30-minute jog, row a boat down a long stream or carry a 15-pound toddler through a large department store. Your muscles must not only be strong enough to handle these tasks, but they also must be able to resist fatigue during continuous use. Having muscular endurance allows your muscles to exert full energy for prolonged periods without getting tired.

Muscular Strength versus Muscular Endurance

Muscular strength measures the amount of force that you can exert with a single effort. Muscular endurance is the number of times your muscles can repeat an activity before getting tired. For example, a champion boxer may be strong enough to knock his opponent out with one punch, but he may not have the muscular endurance necessary to continuously punch hard for 12 rounds of a boxing match. Lifting heavy weights can build muscular strength, but to build endurance, you must perform many repetitions of a strength-building activity while gradually adding resistance.

Slow-Twitch and Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers

Every muscle has fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch fibers generate short bursts of speed and strength and are useful for those who need to quickly generate a lot of force. Quick, short movements, such as swinging a fly swatter or running a 100-meter race, engage the fast-twitch fibers of your muscles. These fibers tend to tire quickly and often need to recover once the quick, repetitive movement is complete. Slow-twitch fibers operate for a long time before becoming fatigued. Slow-twitch fibers make running a marathon, doing 200 pushups or cycling for two to three hours possible. Slow-twitch fibers exert low levels of force for long time periods, and these fibers develop when you perform exercises that build muscular endurance.

Dynamic and Static Muscular Endurance

Dynamic muscular endurance is the continuous contraction and relaxation of muscles, and static endurance is when muscles stay contracted for prolonged periods. You develop dynamic muscular endurance by doing many repetitions of a strength-training activity using a low amount of resistance. Pushups and swimming are activities that build dynamic muscular endurance. Static endurance is developed when you place continuous strain on a specific group of muscles. Arm wrestling or carrying heavy groceries for long distances develops static endurance because your muscles remain active during these activities.

Other Muscular Endurance Exercises

Squats and lunges are two strength-training exercises that develop muscular endurance in the legs. Both exercises work the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. When these muscles are strong and have stamina, you’ll be able to jump, run, hike or climb for long periods with full power. Bench presses, biceps curls and bench dips build muscular endurance in your upper body, making it easier for you to do pushups and swim multiple laps. Planks are an effective exercise for building static muscular endurance. This exercise stabilizes your entire body while activating your abdominal muscles, quadriceps, glutes, deltoids and pectorals.