Muscle Building- Endurance vs Strength
We hear this statement often: Use heavy weights with low repetitions to bulk you up, but use light weights with high repetitions to get toned. So there is a difference in these 2 types of training and it’s about different muscle functions. Basically these two tasks are the difference between Muscle Strength and Muscle Endurance.
To go by definition Muscular Endurance is a health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the ability of muscle groups to exert external force for many repetitions or successive exertions. For example, when you are going down the slope, bending your knees, firing your quads and swooshing down that mountain for several minutes or longer or to pump out 100 squats with no added weight you will need Endurance while Muscular Strength is a health-related component of physical fitness that relates to the amount of external force that a muscle can exert like bench pressing a heavy barbell for 5-8 repetitions or pushing your car out of a ditch.
Building muscle is challenging and complicated. Understanding the difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance helps you to devise a strength training plan to meet your fitness goals.
Basically strength training targets your muscles, improving their mobility and strength and potentially yielding visible muscle development. Muscular Strength is the maximal ability of a muscle to generate force, or the force that a muscle or muscle group can generate in a single maximal contraction. This is of significance in almost all sports. Sports such as football, basketball and events in track and field especially require a high degree of muscular strength. It is related to fast-twitch fibres. Endurance training is related to slow-twitched fibres and usually comes in two forms. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to generate force over and over again and helps your muscles sustain their activity over a long period of time. Muscular Endurance is required in most sports e.g. in tennis, in which a player needs to repeatedly swing the racket during a match. This is also important in daily life of athletes as well as non-athletes as many everyday tasks require repeated sub-maximal muscular contractions. Cardio-respiratory Endurance or aerobic fitness is a key component of fitness. It is a measure of the heart’s ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to working muscles during exercise. It is important in performing endurance-type exercises e.g. distance-running, swimming, cycling etc. It is a measure of your ability to keep working when your heart is racing and your breathing is elevated.
So why exactly do they matter?
There is a general misconception that Strength Training is for body builders. In reality even non-athletes require some level of muscular strength to perform their daily activities and a healthy muscle tissue can help you avoid disorders such as osteoporosis by strengthening your bones and improving bone density. It can also help improve mobility in people who already have arthritis. Also muscle is more dense than fat, it also requires more energy to sustain. This means that regular strength training can cause your body to burn more calories, helping you lose weight. It is advised that adults should do strength-based routines at least two days per week. Effective strength training routines work all major muscle groups — legs, arms, back, chest and shoulders. Stick with weights that are challenging but that aren’t painful to lift, and increase weight as you gain strength.
It doesn’t matter how much amount you can lift but if you don’t have muscular endurance you can injure yourself with repetitive lifts. Cardiovascular endurance makes it easier to exercise longer and with more intensity, but can also make simple tasks such as walking up stairs easier. Regular cardio can help you avoid heart problems and improve your circulation. Cardiovascular exercise also plays a key role in reducing the risk of diabetes, cancers such as breast and colon cancer, arthritis and depression. These benefits occur through several mechanisms. For example, controlling your weight plays a role in reducing diabetes risk, while the endorphin release that coincides with regular exercise can improve your mood. Because endurance training burns more calories than weightlifting, it can also help you maintain your weight. It recommended that an individual invest in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week, or 300 minutes for maximum benefits.
For your benefit, here are 3 muscular endurance exercises.
- To start, lie flat on your stomach (hips touching the ground) with your legs flat and upper body propped up by your forearms.
- Tightening your lower back and shoulder muscles, raise your hips off the ground.
- Hold for as long as you can (aim for intervals of 30 to 45 seconds) and then relax. That completes one repetition (rep).
- Perform 5 reps of your longest hold possible.
- At the end of the 5th rep, your arms should be quivering. This is a good indication that you’re pushing your limits.
- Body Weight Squats
- Start by standing upright with your feet placed in a position slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your toes pointed straight ahead.
- Bend your legs and drop your buttocks down to the height of your knees. Your legs should form a 90-degree angle when you’re at the bottom of the movement.
- With your weight on your heels, push yourself back upright, squeezing through your glutes (buttock muscles) on the way up.
- Perform 5 sets of 25 repetitions. Adjust this rep number if you feel you can do more at the end of each set.
- Maintain good form by keeping your chest out and shoulders back. Don’t let your torso become parallel with the ground.
- Try a variation on this traditional squat by widening your stance and pointing your toes outward. This move will target the inside of your thighs.
- Walking Lunges
- Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your right leg, take a large step forward, then drop your body down so that your back leg touches the ground.
- Push down through your front heel and stand back upright.
- Repeat the same motion with your left leg.
- Perform 5 sets of 30 lunges (15 on each leg, per set). Tip: Resist the urge to drop your torso. Keep your abdomen upright.
Here are some Activities for Muscle Strength
- Calisthenics for Muscles
- Use the weight of your body against gravity to provide muscle-building resistance. Perform situps, pushups and pullups.
- Use resistance bands, similar to giant rubber bands, to provide muscle-strengthening resistance while performing simple calisthenics.
- Learn to do simple gymnastics to push your entire body weight against the force of gravity during moves such as handstands and cartwheels.
- Power Rowing
- Rowing a boat or using a rowing machine increases muscular strength in your arms, legs and core.
- Rowing tones muscles, enhances cardiovascular health and improves muscle power throughout your entire body.
- Indoor rowing machines let you adjust resistance and pace — use lower resistance when going long to combine strength-building with a cardio workout. Increase intensity by increasing resistance and stroke rate together to avoid injuring your back.
- Free Weights
- Lift dumbbells two to three times per week. Start with small, 5-pound hand weights and perform exercises like biceps curls to strengthen your arms.
- Wear ankle weights to do leg abduction exercises in which you raise your extended leg to the side and back again to increase power in the lower half of your body
- Lift progressively heavier weights and add more repetitions to build muscle mass.
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