Muscular Endurance Training
Muscular endurance is the combination of strength and endurance. It is the ability to perform repetitions against a given resistance for a prolonged period of time. An element of fitness for athletes such as distance runners, swimmers, and cyclists. Traditionally, muscular endurance programs have used moderate loads lifted for 12-25 repetitions. However, this is completely inadequate for many sports such as boxing, MMA, distance running, cycling, swimming, triathlon and others. Any form of training must mirror the specific demands of the sport. In resistance training, this means that the load used should match the resistance that must be overcome while competing. The number of repetitions or the duration of exercise bouts in a session should approach that during the event.
Types of Muscular Endurance
Power endurance is the ability to contract your muscles at near maximum for a greater amount of time. The more power endurance you have, the longer you will be able to sustain movement. Power endurance training uses moderate loads of 50-70% 1RM lifted for 15 to 30 repetitions. Because this can lead to a significant build up of lactic acid, rest periods between sets are long (5-7 minutes) and a minimum number of sport-specific exercises are used (about 3-4). Exercises are also completed in a circuit training format (i.e. one set of one exercise is completed, then one set of the next exercise and so on). Alternating exercises allows maximum recovery and sufficient time for lactic acid to disperse. This is a critical rule to follow. If rest intervals are too short and sets are completed while the athlete is fatigued, the result will be hypertrophy (increased muscle mass) rather than power endurance. Sets should not be completed to failure but should end while repetitions are no longer powerful and rhythmic.
When a session consists predominantly of bouts of exercise lasting between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, “short-term” muscular endurance training is of greater usage. Circuit training is a good example.
“Long term” muscular endurance is for continuous sports, such as a marathon. Light loads are used so that exercises can be sustained for a prolonged period. Rest periods are kept to a minimum, and ideally the athlete should progress so that the only rest between exercises is the time it takes to move between equipment.