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MUSCULAR

ENDURANCE

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INTRODUCTION

Muscular endurance is an important health-related component of physical fitness. While muscular strength is defined as the ability or capacity of a muscle or muscle group to exert a maximal force against resistance, one time through a full range of motion; muscular endurance is defined as one’s ability to perform many repetitions with a sub-maximum resistance over a given period of time. You have the ability to resist fatigue when you hold a position or carry something for an extended period of time. You also have the ability to repeat a movement without getting tired. Muscular endurance prevents undue fatigue from work and other daily activities, and allows greater success and enjoyment in athletic and recreational endeavors.

and enjoyment in athletic and recreational endeavors. MUSCULAR ENDURANCE AND SLOW-TWITCH MUSCLE FIBERS Muscular

MUSCULAR ENDURANCE AND SLOW-TWITCH MUSCLE FIBERS

Muscular endurance training tends to develop the slow twitch fibers in your muscles. Muscles are composed of two primary fiber types: slow-twitch (type 1) and fast-twitch (type 2). The smaller, slow-twitch fibers are better suited for low levels of force over relatively long periods of time. They are more resistant to fatigue than fast-twitch fibers. However, the time required to generate force is much greater in slow-twitch fibers. Most men and women have a fairly even mix of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers in the majority of their skeletal muscles. However, some people inherit a higher percentage of one muscle fiber to another. People with a higher percentage of slow-twitch (high endurance) muscle fibers typically perform more repetitions with 75% of their maximum resistance, than people who inherit more fast-twitch fibers. Because the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscle fibers is unaffected by training protocol,

it appears genetics largely determines our muscle endurance with a given percentage of maximum resistance. As you train specifically for endurance, the slow twitch fibers will selectively adapt to the activity in such a way that the trained muscles will become more efficient and fatigue resistant.

The Overload Principle Applies to Muscular Endurance Too

There are generally two types of muscular endurance; Dynamic Endurance and Static Endurance. Dynamic endurance is defined as a muscle’s ability to contract and relax repeatedly. This is usually measured by the number of times (repetitions) you can perform a body movement in

a given period of time. Static endurance is a muscles ability to remain contracted for a long period

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Muscular Endurance is related to both Cardiovascular Endurance and Muscular Strength of time. This is usually measured by the length of time you can hold a body position. The overload principle states that physiological adaptations to exercise occur when individuals subject the body to demands greater than what the body is used to. Though strength is developed by high resistance overload with low repetitions, dynamic muscular endurance requires just the opposite: higher repetitions and lower resistance. The ideal combination for maximum endurance is not known at this time. One study suggests that after progressing to twenty-five repetitions, it may be more effective to increase resistance and keep the repetitions constant. To develop static muscular endurance, the overload principle is applied by progressively increasing the 2 length of time the muscles remain contracted against an immovable resistance.

Training Threshold and Target Zone

There is a level of frequency, intensity, and time at which a training effect will begin to take place (threshold). There is also an optimal range, or target zone, where the most effective and efficient improvement will occur (see table below). We do not know the optimum range, but studies suggest that it has wide limits. The intensity, or resistance (load), is less important than the number of repetitions or the length of time a muscle contracts.

Dynamic Endurance Frequency

Threshold of Training

* 3 Days per week

Target Zone

*Every other day

Intensity

*Lift Resistance 20-30% Of the maximum you can lift.

*Lift Resistance 40-70% Of the maximum you can lift.

Time

*One set of 8 reps of each exercise.

*2-5 set of 9-25 reps.

Static Endurance Frequency

*3 Days per week

* Every other day

Intensity

*Hold a weight 50-100% of The weight you ultimately will Need to hold in your work or Leisure activity.

* Hold a weight equal to and up to 50% greater than the amount you will need to hold in your work or Leisure activity.

Time

*Hold for lengths of time 10-50% Shorter than the time you plan to do The activity. Repeat 10-20 times.

*Hold for lengths of time equal to and up to 20% greater Than the time you plan to do the Activity. For longer times, use fewer repetitions (5-10)

Cardiovascular endurance depends primarily upon the efficiency of the heart muscle, circulatory system, and respiratory system. It is developed with activities that stress these systems, such as running, cycling, and swimming. Muscular endurance depends upon the efficiency of the local skeletal muscles and the nerves that control them. You might train for cardiovascular endurance by running, but if the leg muscles lack the muscular endurance to continue contracting for more than five minutes, the cardiovascular system will not be stressed,

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even if it is in good condition. As far as strength training is concerned,

DID YOU KNOW?

You are tested on absolute endurance (the number of times you can move a designated number of pounds), a stronger person has advantage. However, if you are tested on relative endurance (the number of times you can move a designated percentage of your maximum strength), the stronger person does not have an advantage, and men and women can compete more evenly. Strength training will not help you improve your relative endurance.

The Principle of Specificity studies show that the person who is strength- trained will fatigue as much as four times faster than the person who is endurance-trained. However, there is a slight correlation between strength and endurance because the person who trains for strength will develop some endurance, and the person who trains for endurance will develop some strength.

The graph below illustrates the relationship between muscular strength and endurance. In A, the training program calls for a high number of repetitions and light resistance. This results in a small gain in strength (the area of the bar below area of the bar above the line). In B, the

the line), and a large increase in endurance (the

training

program calls for a moderate number of repetitions (less than A), and a moderate

resistance (more than A). This results in slightly

less endurance and slightly more strength

than

strength because it uses high resistance and low repetitions. Thus, if you are primarily interested in muscular endurance, program A is your optimal choice. The principle of specificity states that the physiological adaptations to exercise are specific to the system that is in use during the stress of the exercise. A muscular endurance training program should apply the principle of specificity by closely resembling the activity for which the endurance is needed. Muscular endurance is specific to the muscles being used, the type of muscle contraction (static or dynamic), the speed or cadence of the movement, and the amount of resistance being moved.

For example, if you want endurance in the elbow flexor muscles (e.g. biceps), you must train those muscles. Performing muscular endurance exercise for the elbow extensor (e.g. triceps) or the leg muscles will not improve the muscular endurance of the biceps. Likewise, if you are trying to develop endurance for a dynamic task, you should do isotonic exercises (same tone or tension; muscle is contracted through a range of motion with a constant resistance). If you need endurance in muscles that hold you in a static position, do isometric exercises (same length; when the muscular force is equal to the resistive force). If the activity requires a rapid movement, it is better to train with fast movements. There may be transfer from fast practice to slow movement in skill, but the reverse is not true. Garhammer (1986) believes that athletes wishing to develop muscular endurance for a particular sport may benefit more from performing the sport skill repeatedly than from doing special exercises such as weight training. If injury or weather prevents practice in the sport, then weight training for endurance would be an effective alternative.

in program A. Program C results in the least gain in endurance and the most gain in

Muscular Endurance Guidelines

Guidelines for muscular endurance training programs are the same as those for strength development: Listed below are a few of those guidelines. Exercise Selection. It is important to select at least one exercise for each major muscle group to

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ensure comprehensive muscle development. Exercise Sequence. When performing a series or circuit of exercises, it is advisable to proceed from the larger muscle groups to the smaller muscle groups. Pick a sequence that enables you to alternate muscle groups so muscles have a rest period before being used in another exercise. Exercise Progression. As the muscles adapt to a given exercise resistance, it must be gradually increased to stimulate further gains. Begin with a light weight and moderate repetitions, once this becomes to easy increase resistance in increments of 5% or less. Repeat this system until desired goal is met. Exercise Frequency. Ample rest time between successive training sessions is very important. Try varying your training days so one is light, medium, and one is heavy. Take a break after 8-10 weeks by choosing another activity or by resting. Exercise Range. It is important to perform each exercise through a full range of joint movement, with emphasis on the completely contracted position. Full range exercise movements benefit both muscular enhancement and flexibility.

Muscular Endurance Exercises Are Best To “Slim” The Figure

Women in particular seem interested in exercises designed to decrease girth measurements. The high repetition, low resistance exercise is suitable for this because it usually brings about some strengthening and, therefore, some “firming” of flabby muscles, which in turn, changes body contour. Exercises do not “spot reduce” fat. Endurance exercises do speed up metabolism so more calories are burned, but if weight or fat reduction is desired, aerobic (cardiovascular) exercises are best. To increase girth, strength exercises such as those power lifters use for hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) are best.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some training methods can interfere with athletic performance. Some research studies have shown that certain techniques used in training may actually cause a decrease in performance. For example, when distance runners were trained with weighted wrist bands, anklets, and belts they performed worse than runners who did not wear weights in training.

Evaluating Muscular Endurance

1. Sitting Tucks— Sit on the floor so that your back and feet are off the floor. Place your hands on the tops of your head. Alternately draw your legs to your chest and extend them away from your body. Keep your feet and back off the floor. Repeat as many times as possible up to thirty-five.

2. Chin-ups— Pull your body weight above the horizontal bar, gripping the bar with the palms of the facing bar. Repeat as many times as possible.

(See next page for charts)

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Rating Scale for Muscular Endurance (Men)

AGE

17-26

27-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Classification

Tucks

Chins

Tucks Chins

Tucks

Chins

Tucks Chins

Tucks Chins

High Performance Good Fitness Zone Marginal Zone Low Zone

35+

25+

34+

20+

33+

15+

32+

13+

1+

12+

20-34

10-24

19-33

9-19

18-32

8-14 1

5-31

7-12

12-30

6-11

15-19

7-9

13-18

5-8

12-17

4-8

10-14

3-6

8-11

2-5

<15

<7

13

<5

<12

<4

<10

<3

<8

<2

Rating Scale for Muscular Endurance (Women)

AGE

17-26

27-39

40-49

50-59

60+

Classification

Tucks

Chins

Tucks

Chins

Tucks Chins

Tucks Chins

Tucks

Chins

High Performance Good Fitness Zone Marginal Zone Low Zone

25+

3+

24+

2+

23+

2+

22+

1+

21+

1+

20-24

1-2

19-23

1

18-22

1

17-21

1

10-20

1

10-19

—-

9-18

8-17

7-14

6-9

<10

<9

<8

<7

<6

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