Ever found that you start exercising and after a few reps, your muscles are too tired to do any more?
Or perhaps your muscles get tired doing repetitive tasks in everyday life?
You might need to improve your muscular endurance. We have put together some tips to help you do just this.
Muscular endurance definition
Muscular endurance is defined as the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, to perform repetitive contractions, against a force, for an extended period of time.1
Benefits of increasing muscle endurance
As well as helping you to perform repetitive tasks for longer and reducing your fatigue, increasing your muscle endurance will also help you to burn more calories and increase your metabolism, since you will be doing more repetitions or reps.2
Improved muscle endurance will also reduce your risk of getting injured and make it easier for you to do everyday activities such as opening doors, lifting boxes and chopping wood.3
Exercises to improve muscular endurance
In order to improve your muscular endurance, you should look to add strength training using weights to your exercise routine as well as certain aerobic exercises.
Here are our favourite muscular endurance exercises:
Start your muscular endurance training with some weight exercises.
Strength endurance training is training with a high number of repetitions, using low weights.
You should work at 50% maximum performance and you should do three sets of 20-100 repetitions.4
Dumbell clean: Starting with your weights on the floor in a squat, flip your wrists so that they face forwards and bring the weights up to your shoulders. Lower the weight to your thighs and back to the squat.
Walking with weights: Hold the weights by your sides and walk around taking short, quick steps for as long as desired. This will help to improve your grip strength as well as the upper back and shoulders.
Bent over row: Hinge forward with a slight bend in the knees, keeping your back straight and your core tight. Row the weights up to your chest and lower.5
Body weight exercises
As well as using extra weights, your own body weight can provide enough resistance to help you build up your muscular endurance.
Plank: Hold a forearm plank for as long as you can (aim for 45 seconds), ensuring that your back and bottom are in a straight line, before relaxing and then repeat this five times.
Squats: With your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, bend your legs and drop your glutes down to a 90 degree angle. Squeeze on the way back up and keep your weight in your heels. Perform five sets of 25 repetitions.
Sit ups: Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Clench your abs and sit up so that your torso is touching your thighs. Perform five sets of 25 reps.6
Aerobic exercises are repeated exercises that get your heart rate pumping. Thanks to their repetitive nature, they also help to increase muscular endurance.
Skipping: Skipping improves your overall muscle endurance as well as working your shoulders, core, legs and back. Try using a weighted rope for more resistance.
Burpees: Everyone’s favourite exercise (or least favourite, if we are being honest!), burpees make it onto most lists as they are just so good for your body.
They are also a regular favourite in HIIT workouts, which are well known for burning lots of calories.
Make sure your chest and thighs hit the floor when you go down and that you jump up at the top. Try seeing how many reps you can do in one minute and then increase this.
Running: Running is not only good for muscular endurance but it is great for improving your cardiovascular fitness too.7
One good thing about running is that you can do it anywhere and you do not really need any specialist equipment, aside from good trainers.
If you are new to running, try a beginner programme such as the ‘Couch to 5k’.
Running can also be done inside or outside, so there is no excuse to skip your run if the weather is bad!
Tips for improving your muscular endurance
Try to build up the repetitions of the exercises that you are doing, the more repetitions you can manage, the better.
If you are using weights, once you feel that the repetitions are becoming too easy, it is time to increase the weight.
Avoid fast, jerky movements and make sure your exercises are slow and controlled. Avoid using momentum to power your movements, rather than using your muscles.8
Beginners should aim to train between two and three days each week.9
Last updated: 28 January 2021
Author: Andrea Dobronszki, Regulatory Affairs
Andrea started her career as a clinical dietitian and lecturer at a university hospital, managing the dietetic treatment of patients with various diseases, and giving lectures in nutrition for medical students. Later she worked as a Product Developer at a sport nutrition company where she developed food supplements and fortified foods, and ensured that the products complied with the relevant regulations. Andrea joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate and specialises in food supplements, food regulations, nutrition and dietetics.