The goal of increasing muscle strength was to develop the highest amount of force production by the muscle as possible. Combine Strength with this Endurance, and you have what all Endurance athletes spend hours upon hours training to achieve - Muscle Endurance.

Muscle Endurance is the ability to perform a high number of repetitive movements against a resistance, for an extended period of time, without undue fatigue.

So that is what we are looking for. Now, how do we get it?

It is not as difficult as you might think - perform a very high number of repetitions, non-stop, against a light resistance.

Here a are a few guidelines on what your training should look like:

  • 2-3 times per week
  • 30-40% of 1 Repetition Maximum (Resistance is very light to mimic pushing against a pedal, pulling through water etc)
  • A circuit style of training is great for this type of session - 1-2 minutes per exercise.
  • 4-6 exercises (back to back with no recovery between exercises)
  • Repeat circuit 2-4 times
  • Movement Cadence: CON: 2 sec HOLD: 1 sec ECC: 2 sec
  • 2-6 sets
  • 1 minute of recovery between circuits (allowing time for partial muscle to recover).
We are not aiming to achieve high muscular force generation in these workouts, but a continuous flow of muscle activity that will tax the Aerobic metabolism.

Here is a sample circuit: (60 seconds per station)

1: Body weight squats
2: Body weight Push ups
3: Side Plank - Left arm (30 seconds), Right arm (30 seconds)
4: Lateral Lunge (to the left)
5: Rubber Tubing / Band Rows
6: Lateral Lunge (to the right)
7: Swiss Ball Roll outs

Allow for 1 minute of recovery before repeating the circuit.

A very limited period of recovery is the key here, because you do not want to muscle / body to be able to fully recover before commencing with the next circuit.

Obviously the number of repetitions and number of times the circuit is completed, is totally dependent on your needs and your level of conditioning.

After a few weeks, you will notice your time to fatigue decreasing, and the number of repetitions you can squeeze out on the rise - a definite sign that your Muscle Endurance is increasing.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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