Muscular strength and endurance are two essential components of your body’s ability to move, lift things, and perform day-to-day functional activities. Muscular strength is the amount of weight you can lift, while muscular endurance is how many times you can move that weight until the muscle gets fatigued.
More technically, muscles are made up of different types of fibers called either slow-twitch or fast-twitch fibers. Slow-twitch fibers are responsible for muscular endurance, while fast-twitch fibers come in two types, A & B. Type A fast-twitch fibers are involved in both power and endurance (e.g. during a long sprint), and type B fast-twitch fibers are used in shorter, more explosive movements, such as jumping.
Which you want to focus on training really depends on the body type you want and the exercises or athletics you want to perform. Certain athletes like powerlifters, football players, and rugby players, need muscular strength to perform their sports, while muscular endurance training is best for triathletes, distance runners, and rowers.
Some of the benefits of building muscular strength include countering bone loss and osteoporosis, preventing injury, and even decreasing your risk of cancer. Other benefits include helping you maintain healthy body weight, improving your confidence and self-esteem, and giving you a sense of accomplishment. What’s more, the more muscles you have, the more calories your body burns at rest over the course of a day.
Muscular strength is typically improved by lifting heavier weights for fewer reps and doing short, powerful sprints. One of the best ways to improve muscular strength is to focus on functional movements that utilize the entire body.
Functional movements are movements you perform all day without even thinking about it. Examples include:
Certain exercises translate well to the weight room, and some of our favorites include squats, reverse lunges, push-ups, bench presses, Russian twists, and deadlifts. Not only will these movements bulk your muscles up, but they’ll also make daily activities easier by improving your strength, coordination, and balance. Oh, and don’t be afraid of the heavier side of the weight rack––to continually improve your muscular strength, you’ll need to consistently add weight to your workout regimen.
One of the best ways to test muscular strength is via something called the one-rep max. Essentially you want to lift as much weight as possible during a given exercise for exactly one rep. This allows you to determine whether you’re progressing, as you’ll have past performances to weigh your current performance against. Chest presses and deadlifts are popular exercises for testing your one-rep max.
Whether it’s a day-to-day activity such as doing chores or a full-fledged workout, your body needs muscular endurance. When you’ve built up a lot of it, fatigue will not set in as fast and you’ll be able to withstand more strain while using less energy. If you think of it like running, muscular strength is like a sprint, and muscular endurance is like a marathon; the more endurance you have, the harder you’ll be able to run for a longer distance.
Muscular endurance is typically trained by forcing the muscle to engage in resistance exercises for a sustained amount of time. This could be by lifting weights for a higher number of reps and running for progressively longer distances.
Cardio training is typically the best method of building endurance. Exercises such as running, biking, and swimming are all good choices.
Finally, if you need a gym in the Chicagoland area, CrossTown Fitness is hands down the best spot for working on both your muscular strength and endurance. We offer both one-on-one 30-minute personal training sessions and group classes tailored to your specific needs.
Our trainers are some of the most qualified, experienced, and successful in Chicago. Plus, with three locations in the city, there’s bound to be a studio that’s convenient for you and your schedule. So if you’re looking to work on either your muscular strength or endurance, come on down to CrossTown Fitness and let the training begin!