Have you ever walked up a hill and then become frustrated by how many breaks you had to take along the way? Or maybe you are proud of your form when you swim at the pool but find you can't swim enough laps for your swimming to count as exercise. Nothing is more disheartening than starting an activity, only to realize you don't have the stamina for it.
There is a solution to this problem, though — building your muscular endurance. According to Verywell Fit, muscular endurance is "the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time."
When you have good muscular endurance, you can do more reps of any given exercise than you could before. For example, you can swim enough laps around the pool to get your heart rate up for a sustained period of time. Dr. Deanne Davis Brooks explains in Health that "amping up your muscular endurance can also help you gain additional cardiovascular benefits from exercise."
Not only does muscular endurance enhance your ability to workout, it also improves your endurance when engaging in daily activities. Instead of getting winded after a 10 minute climb up a hill, for instance, you can build your muscular endurance so you can endure, say, a day-long hike without becoming exhausted.
An article about muscular endurance on the site Transparent Labs sums it up well: "The main benefit of increasing muscle endurance is enhancing physical performance."
Another surprising benefit of building muscular endurance is that you can reduce your risk of injury. This 2019 study from the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy "found that soccer players with low core endurance were more likely to experience more sprains and strains in their lower body." Therefore, it makes reasonable sense that building your muscular endurance would reduce your risk of injury.
All right, all right. You don't need any more convincing. You get it — muscular endurance is important. So, what can you do to build it? The first step, according to Health, is to focus on one specific group of muscles. Ask yourself which muscles you most need to build endurance in and start there. Maybe you will decide to focus on your core or perhaps you'll want to strengthen your arm muscles first.
After you pick which muscles you'd like to target, Health advises doing a muscular endurance test. Don't let the word test scare you away — it's really quite easy. Dr. Brooks advises on two types of tests you can do. In the first test, you "have a set load and count how many reps you can perform with that load until failure." For example, if you are wanting to test the muscular endurance of your arm muscles, you will see how many pushups you can do before you fail or get tired.
The second type of test you can do is a timed test. For this test, you will set a time limit and then count how many reps you can complete during that amount of time. An example would be setting a timer for three minutes and counting how many pushups you can do before the timer goes off.
So, you've tested your muscular endurance. What's next? Now you need to make a plan. Dr. Brooks explains that you will need to pick a workout routine which "regularly works the specific muscle to failure, or at least pushes it to work harder than it's used to in your day-to-day life." Verywell Fit further recommends using "lighter weights while doing a higher number of reps." Another important component to add to your plan is rest, because your muscles need to rebuild and repair between workouts. Dr. Brooks recommends resting 48 hours before working out the same muscle group again.
One final word of wisdom is to not let other forms of exercise fall by the wayside while you incorporate muscular endurance training. "Cardio and regular strength training are also important, and a well-rounded fitness program will include doses of each," the article concludes. While the bad news is that you've always become tired quickly when engaging in certain activities, the good news is that by focusing on building muscular endurance you can actually improve your stamina.
What are you waiting for? Put on those workout shoes, pull out that timer and get started!