How to increase strength (muscular strength vs muscular endurance)

Workouts

Today you’re going to learn the difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance.

Both are going to help improve muscle and performance, they just have different approaches.

For example – one is going to focus more on weights, while the other is going to focus on duration.

In any good strength training program, or weight loss program, there is going to be a mixture of different techniques.

This helps create a solid foundation, and make sure you are not falling into a plateau because no training variables are changing.

In fact, this is the same technique I use when coaching/training my clients to achieve their first push up or pull up!

Let’s dive into exactly what muscular endurance and muscle strength are, and why they are important.

Muscle Strength

Muscular strength is known as ones ability to move and lift objects.

So literally, how much weight can you lift, or how much force can you exert on an object.

When you think of muscle strength, you think about how much weight someone can squat, or if they can lift a heavy box off the ground.

Those are examples of muscle strength.

This is also important to a lot of people in the fitness field because, well, lifting heavy stuff is cool. It makes you feel tough, and it is a measurement of progress in a program.

Now, not everyone has the goal of being able to lift a house, but you may have other strength goals.

 

These include doing 10 pushups on your knees, or doing a pull up.

This can also be as simple as being strong enough to get yourself up off the floor if you fall (which is why muscle strength is important at all ages).

Building muscular strength focuses on heavier weights, less repetitions, and longer rest periods for recovery.

So this could be squatting 85% of your max weight 4 times, then resting 120 seconds before doing it again. Likely anywhere from 3-6 sets.

Most programs have you work on strength at the beginning in compound lifts (like benching, squat, deadlift) and then working accessory after.

This ensures you are well rested and can put all strength behind the lift at the beginning of your workout.

Muscle strength can also be worked with simple movements and dumbbells, too.

*Higher rep range, better for muscle growth. Lower rep range, better for muscle strength.

Things like a goblet squat, a chest press and a lat pulldown are also great muscle strength exercises.

The main focus is on strength and few repetitions.

Think of muscle strength like the sprinter.

Muscle Endurance

Muscular endurance refers the to a muscle being able to sustain repeated contractions for an extended period of time.

This means, you are trying to lift a weight for a longer period of time to help the muscle build endurance.

These can be the same types of exercise as muscle strength, just with lighter weights and more repetitions.

So instead of 4 repetitions in a set, there might be 15-20.

This creates stamina – your ability to do something for an extended period of time without getting exhausted.

Muscle endurance is used typically for athletes doing long distance activities.

Things like running, swimming, playing a sport. All are going to need muscle endurance so they can maintain their best effort for a long period of time.

You can still use muscle endurance in a regular exercise program – it could be doing pushups to failure. Or doing a wall sit for 1:00 minute.

Muscle endurance is also important for day to day activities. Remember, endurance is about the duration, or how long you can maintain something.

So – running around with your kids? Endurance.

Yard work? Endurance.

Lots of walking on vacation? Endurance.

If you focus your attention on how something is going to benefit you in the day to day life, it is going to make it much easier to do/achieve.

The main focus here is on duration.

Think of muscle endurance like a marathon runner.

Benefits of Muscle Strength and Muscle Endurance

It’s important to learn the benefits of muscle strength and endurance, so that you can be motivated to add them into your workout routine.

If we only solely focus on weight loss, we may not continue to see the importance once we reach out goal.

Exercise should not be a short term “means to an end” just to get you to your goal.

This is a lifelong journey – and the benefits prove to be important.

Benefits of Muscle Strength:

• Increases muscle strength, duh

• Helps burn fat

• Boost mood and energy levels

• Help with quality sleep

• Better stability, balance and flexibility

• Strong bones

*More length strength is directly correlated with bone mineral density.

Benefits of Muscle Endurance:

• Reduce risk of injury

• Build cardiovascular stamina

• Improves mood

• Healthy heart

• Leads to longer life

Which technique for fat loss

Here’s the kicker – both are necessary!

Fat loss comes from burning more calories than you consume.

But you also want to make sure you are creating a deficit in a way that is also conducive to your goals.

Because I am going to guess you don’t just want to burn fat, but you also want to look good, looked toned?

Well that comes from building muscle. And muscle building comes from both strength and hypertrophy (endurance).

It is important to have several different variables in your workout routine.

Instead of just doing 3 sets of 10 reps of everything until the end of time, you want to make adjustments.

Maybe doing a few exercises for strength at 3×4, and a few exercises for hypertrophy/endurance for 3×10-12.

This is going to create a dynamic in you programming that will yield the best fat loss results.

How to adjust training variables

Like I said before, you want to make sure your program is changing/progressing.

If you do the same thing day after day, your body will hit a threshold and will no longer offer you the results you are looking for.

This is because it is going to adapt and become too easy. We need a challenge for change.

The 4 training variables can be checked out at this blog, if you want to learn more.

In order to achieve results, we need to adjust and play around with these training variables.

This means parts of our workout need to be muscle endurance, and parts muscle strength.

We also need to add in a cardio element (for health) and make sure we are addressing progression.

Bonus: Sample training split

If you want to see a real life example of how you can put these to work in your training – here is an idea.

Let’s take a 4 day per week training split.

2 upper body days, 2 lower body days.

You want to break your programming up into “blocks”.

*Muscle strength below

*Muscle endurance below

Meaning programming stays the same for 4-6 weeks, so you can adjust different variables and see progression.

Let’s take a 4 week block – we call these mesocycles, within a year long program that is a macrocycle.

We can make adjustments to our programming in different mesocycles.

So for one you might focus on muscle strength for 4 weeks – working up to heavy weights and keeping the sets and reps lower (3-5 reps, and 4-5 sets).

Then you might move into a muscle endurance cycle – focusing on less rest and more duration of work.

So this could be 2-3 sets of an exercise for 12-15 reps – focusing on fatiguing the muscle within duration instead of strength.

This is just one example of how you can set up your training split.

Conclusion

That explains muscle strength and muscle endurance.

If that is confusing to you or over your head, jump into a program so the work is done for you.

Are you struggling with sticking to a routine, one you feel like includes everything?

If yes – then I highly recommend jumping into the Collective. It’s an at home program, and is a great starting place to build a foundation and consistency.

Haley Perry February 5, 2021