Strength and muscle building.
Those are the only two goals anyone trains for, right?
Wrong. Not everyone is working out just to have more power, or look shredded.
Some of us want to train for agility and sporting prowess, helping us to run for longer and swim further distances.
And for that, we need muscle endurance.
Stamina isn’t just about respiration and fitness, it’s about how long your muscles can stay active. About how much we can put them through without failing.
So, how do we train for this specific goal?
Well, it’s my job as a personal trainer to accommodate every client’s need, and over the years, I have discovered the perfect movements and methods to enhance your muscular endurance.
In this article, I am going to give you the 5 best exercises you can include in your workout regime to ensure you can perform repetitive actions for extended periods of time, all from the comfort of your own home.
Let’s get into it.
When the word “stamina” or “endurance” enters the brain, you probably conjure up images of aerobic exercises like rowing or cycling.
And cardio is a great example of improving your muscular endurance. If you can run for longer, your muscles will work for those extended periods, resulting in elevated stamina levels.
But cardio isn’t the most efficient method of training.
By adding bodyweight or very lightweight exercises into your training routine to enhance your athleticism, your body will become a lot more familiar with extensive workouts.
And if we also add the idea of training until failure, we will be continuously progressively overloading, resulting in a vast improvement in a short time frame.
Now, onto the science behind it all.
Why does exercising your muscles in this way help to improve your endurance?
Well, your muscles have 2 types of fibers within them, that respond to various types of exercises differently.
The fast twitch fibers are those that activate during short-term movements and apply power to quick movements.
The slow twitch muscle fibers are the ones we are looking at for endurance.
Slow twitch fibers come into effect over a long period of time, utilizing aerobic respiration to provide an extensive amount of energy to the muscles over a long time.
This helps to sustain forces in repeated contractions, in marathons, or just keeping your body upright.
The reason we want to go light, and for longer, is because these slow twitch fibers are not able to counter large forces.
You can’t just target slow twitch or fast twitch fibers in a muscle, we have just got to form the exercises to favor the proportion in terms of the endurance side of muscles.
Genetics has a say in this, but we can help our case by using higher reps, slower and controlled movements, using less rest, and of course, lighter weights so less power is involved from the fast twitch fibers.
Your core and abdominal muscles are the most important muscles when it comes to stability and agility, with them being a stronghold for every movement you will do.
So, when it comes to using your body for longer, whether that be running or just standing upright, you may think you need to work on getting a stronger midsection.
However, by using the plank for a prolonged period, we are producing enhanced endurance levels in our abdominal muscles, meaning we can move stronger for longer with our whole body being more agile and stable.
This is due to the plank being an isometric exercise, which means your joints remain still, and your muscles are contracted in one position.
This results in a higher ratio of slow twitch muscle fibers throughout the body being involved in the movement.
Sticking with the theme of bodyweight exercises, we have one of the best.
The pushup is pretty much the perfect all-around exercise in the fitness world.
Yes, it builds muscle, and yes it can help beginners with strength, but what you probably didn’t know is that it’s a primary exercise for sportsmen to use to build their muscle endurance in their upper body.
In order to incorporate more of the slow twitch muscle fibers, we are going to need to aim for a high number of reps.
Anything less than 20, and we are looking at strength territory, as the pushing movement does use a lot of joints.
If this isn’t possible at your current level of strength and endurance, then I would recommend moving to the kneeling pushups.
Or if this is too easy, then you should probably change your pushup style, such as elevating the feet or slowing the movement down.
Pushups are also great for many other aspects of your health.
Due to the intensity of trying to get over 20 pushups in one sitting, your cardiovascular health and overall fitness are going to improve.
This decreases your likelihood of enduring life-threatening health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases.
As well as this, doing pushups consistently will give you noticeable improvements in your posture, balance, and flexibility.
Check out this video where I do 1000 push ups in one day!
Now, let’s get onto the good stuff.
The kettlebell swing is one of my all-time favorites, with it being pretty easy to pick up an affordable, high-quality adjustable kettlebells from Dmoose so you can improve your muscle endurance anywhere you want.
Performing this movement with a high weight and low reps is a great idea if you are looking at enhancing your full body power and toning your posterior chain of muscles into a shredded physique.
But, if we want to create some endurance in our muscles, and develop stamina so we can engage in intensive exercises for longer, we can drop the weight and utilize higher reps in a more controlled range of motion.
By swinging the kettlebell for an extended amount of time, all of the muscles working in tandems, such as the back, legs, and arms, are all demanding energy from the slow twitch muscle fibers.
This trains them to be able to handle longer periods of muscle engagement.
Not only this, but we can also make use of kettlebell swings to improve our flexibility and our balance, so we can have a more stable posture when doing cardio.
Walking lunges are an extremely underrate leg exercise.
Some deem them as “just a warm-up movement” and look straight for the squats.
But I don’t think it always gets the respect it deserves.
Not only can you use this exercise to build muscle and tone up your physique but the intensity of the movement, with the prolonged time under tension, ensures your leg muscles undergo improvements in their endurance.
If you’ve ever had this movement in your regime, you will notice how much it begins to burn your legs after 20 reps.
This is because your slow twitch fibers are beginning to kick in and use aerobic respiration to produce the energy so you can keep going.
That’s why we are going to go past that point and hit even higher reps than ever before.
Last but not least, we have a bit of an unconventional exercise.
The farmer’s carry is a fairly simple functional movement, with it resembling everyday movements, like carrying your shopping from the car.
But this doesn’t make it any less effective.
While it builds strength in your arms, chest, back, and legs, walking for prolonged periods of time with weight in your hand will require your slow twitch muscle fibers to get involved, meaning the stamina in all of these muscles will be enhanced.
Not only does this type of movement hit all the muscles in your body, but it also provides a great stimulus for your cardiovascular health, meaning your overall fitness is improved alongside your muscle endurance.
Trying to improve your overall endurance can be a tough task, and you have probably been going about it the wrong way.
But now, with this comprehensive guide and my top 5 exercises to improve your muscle endurance, you can perform aerobic exercises for longer, with less pain and trouble.
Even better than this, all of these exercises can be done at home.
This means you do not need a gym membership to get fitter and healthier and coincides with my belief that you can train wherever you want.
If this interests you, then pick up my free Ebook, “Train Wherever The F*ck You Want”.
So, what are your favorite exercises for muscle endurance?
Do you have any tips on how to train for stamina?
Let me know in the comments below.