Developing Muscular Endurance

Most sports demand some level of muscular endurance or the number of repetitions performed with a specific load. While aerobic or cardiovascular endurance is a factor in muscular endurance, sprint runners still need to contract their muscles maximally many times over 100 meters with little contribution from the aerobic system. While strength training itself can improve muscular endurance, research has shown that specificity of training produces the greatest increase in muscular endurance. Training to improve muscular endurance demands high numbers of repetitions and/or short recovery times between sets. The table below summarises the key factors to be considered when developing muscular endurance.

Factor Novice Advanced
Muscle Action Sport-specific Sport-specific
Loads 40-60% 1 RM 30-80% 1 RM
Repetitions 15 15-25
Progression Reassess 1RM every

2-4 weeks

Increase load 2-10%

Reassess 1RM every 2-3 weeks or drop reps and increase intensity 2-10%
Sets 1-3 3-6
Exercise Selection Multi-joint exercises Multi-joint exercises
Free-Weights or Machines Free weights and machines Free weights
Speed of Movement Moderate with good technique Fast with good technique for low reps

Moderate for high reps

Rest between Sets < 90 seconds < 90 seconds
Frequency 2-3 times/week with 48 hrs between sessions 4-6 times/week depending on sport/event/training phase
Range of Motion Complete or to individual tolerance Complete or to individual tolerance