Flexibility

Go to the previous, chapter.

  • Types of Stretching: (next chapter)
  • Physiology of Stretching: (previous chapter)

Flexibility is defined by Gummerson as “the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints that is attainable in a momentary effort with the help of a partner or a piece of equipment.” This definition tells us that flexibility is not something general but is specific to a particular joint or set of joints. In other words, it is a myth that some people are innately flexible throughout their entire body. Being flexible in one particular area or joint does not necessarily imply being flexible in another. Being “loose” in the upper body does not mean you will have a “loose” lower body. Furthermore, according to SynerStretch, flexibility in a joint is also “specific to the action performed at the joint (the ability to do front splits doesn’t imply the ability to do side splits even though both actions occur at the hip).”

  • Types of Flexibility
  • Factors Limiting Flexibility
  • Strength and Flexibility
  • Overflexibility

Types of Flexibility

  • Factors Limiting Flexibility: (next section)
  • Flexibility: (beginning of chapter)

Many people are unaware of the fact that there are different types of flexibility. These different types of flexibility are grouped according to the various types of activities involved in athletic training. The ones which involve motion are called dynamic and the ones which do not are called static. The different types of flexibility (according to Kurz) are:

dynamic flexibility Dynamic flexibility (also called kinetic flexibility) is the ability to perform dynamic (or kinetic) movements of the muscles to bring a limb through its full range of motion in the joints. static-active flexibility Static-active flexibility (also called active flexibility) is the ability to assume and maintain extended positions using only the tension of the agonists and synergists while the antagonists are being stretched (see section Cooperating Muscle Groups). For example, lifting the leg and keeping it high without any external support (other than from your own leg muscles). static-passive flexibility Static-passive flexibility (also called passive flexibility) is the ability to assume extended positions and then maintain them using only your weight, the support of your limbs, or some other apparatus (such as a chair or a barre). Note that the ability to maintain the position does not come solely from your muscles, as it does with static-active flexibility. Being able to perform the splits is an example of static-passive flexibility.

Research has shown that active flexibility is more closely related to the level of sports achievement than is passive flexibility. Active flexibility is harder to develop than passive flexibility (which is what most people think of as “flexibility”); not only does active flexibility require passive flexibility in order to assume an initial extended position, it also requires muscle strength to be able to hold and maintain that position.

Factors Limiting Flexibility

  • Strength and Flexibility: (next section)
  • Types of Flexibility: (previous section)
  • Flexibility: (beginning of chapter)

According to Gummerson, flexibility (he uses the term mobility) is affected by the following factors:

  • Internal influences
    • the type of joint (some joints simply aren’t meant to be flexible)
    • the internal resistance within a joint
    • bony structures which limit movement
    • the elasticity of muscle tissue (muscle tissue that is scarred due to a previous injury is not very elastic)
    • the elasticity of tendons and ligaments (ligaments do not stretch much and tendons should not stretch at all)
    • the elasticity of skin (skin actually has some degree of elasticity, but not much)
    • the ability of a muscle to relax and contract to achieve the greatest range of movement
    • the temperature of the joint and associated tissues (joints and muscles offer better flexibility at body temperatures that are 1 to 2 degrees higher than normal)
  • External influences
    • the temperature of the place where one is training (a warmer temperature is more conducive to increased flexibility)
    • the time of day (most people are more flexible in the afternoon than in the morning, peaking from about 2:30pm-4pm)
    • the stage in the recovery process of a joint (or muscle) after injury (injured joints and muscles will usually offer a lesser degree of flexibility than healthy ones)
    • age (pre-adolescents are generally more flexible than adults)
    • gender (females are generally more flexible than males)
    • one’s ability to perform a particular exercise (practice makes perfect)
    • one’s commitment to achieving flexibility
    • the restrictions of any clothing or equipment

Some sources also the suggest that water is an important dietary element with regard to flexibility. Increased water intake is believed to contribute to increased mobility, as well as increased total body relaxation.

Rather than discuss each of these factors in significant detail as Gummerson does, I will attempt to focus on some of the more common factors which limit one’s flexibility. According to SynerStretch, the most common factors are: bone structure, muscle mass, excess fatty tissue, and connective tissue (and, of course, physical injury or disability).

Depending on the type of joint involved and its present condition (is it healthy?), the bone structure of a particular joint places very noticeable limits on flexibility. This is a common way in which age can be a factor limiting flexibility since older joints tend not to be as healthy as younger ones.

Muscle mass can be a factor when the muscle is so heavily developed that it interferes with the ability to take the adjacent joints through their complete range of motion (for example, large hamstrings limit the ability to fully bend the knees). Excess fatty tissue imposes a similar restriction.

The majority of “flexibility” work should involve performing exercises designed to reduce the internal resistance offered by soft connective tissues (see section Connective Tissue). Most stretching exercises attempt to accomplish this goal and can be performed by almost anyone, regardless of age or gender.

  • How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility
  • How Aging Affects Flexibility

How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility

  • How Aging Affects Flexibility: (next subsection)
  • Factors Limiting Flexibility: (beginning of section)

The resistance to lengthening that is offered by a muscle is dependent upon its connective tissues: When the muscle elongates, the surrounding connective tissues become more taut (see section Connective Tissue). Also, inactivity of certain muscles or joints can cause chemical changes in connective tissue which restrict flexibility. According to M. Alter, each type of tissue plays a certain role in joint stiffness: “The joint capsule (i.e., the saclike structure that encloses the ends of bones) and ligaments are the most important factors, accounting for 47 percent of the stiffness, followed by the muscle’s fascia (41 percent), the tendons (10 percent), and skin (2 percent)”.

M. Alter goes on to say that efforts to increase flexibility should be directed at the muscle’s fascia however. This is because it has the most elastic tissue, and because ligaments and tendons (since they have less elastic tissue) are not intended to stretched very much at all. Overstretching them may weaken the joint’s integrity and cause destabilization (which increases the risk of injury).

When connective tissue is overused, the tissue becomes fatigued and may tear, which also limits flexibility. When connective tissue is unused or under used, it provides significant resistance and limits flexibility. The elastin begins to fray and loses some of its elasticity, and the collagen increases in stiffness and in density. Aging has some of the same effects on connective tissue that lack of use has.

How Aging Affects Flexibility

  • How Connective Tissue Affects Flexibility: (previous subsection)
  • Factors Limiting Flexibility: (beginning of section)

With appropriate training, flexibility can, and should, be developed at all ages. This does not imply, however, that flexibility can be developed at the same rate by everyone. In general, the older you are, the longer it will take to develop the desired level of flexibility. Hopefully, you’ll be more patient if you’re older.

According to M. Alter, the main reason we become less flexible as we get older is a result of certain changes that take place in our connective tissues. As we age, our bodies gradually dehydrate to some extent. It is believed that “stretching stimulates the production or retention of lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, thus preventing the formation of adhesions”. Hence, exercise can delay some of the loss of flexibility that occurs due to the aging process.

M. Alter further states that some of the physical changes attributed to aging are the following:

  • An increased amount of calcium deposits, adhesions, and cross-links in the body
  • An increase in the level of fragmentation and dehydration
  • Changes in the chemical structure of the tissues.
  • Loss of suppleness due to the replacement of muscle fibers with fatty, collagenous fibers.

This does not mean that you should give up trying to achieve flexibility if you are old or inflexible. It just means that you need to work harder, and more carefully, for a longer period of time when attempting to increase flexibility. Increases in the ability of muscle tissues and connective tissues to elongate (stretch) can be achieved at any age.

Strength and Flexibility

  • Overflexibility: (next section)
  • Factors Limiting Flexibility: (previous section)
  • Flexibility: (beginning of chapter)

Strength training and flexibility training should go hand in hand. It is a common misconception that there must always be a trade-off between flexibility and strength. Obviously, if you neglect flexibility training altogether in order to train for strength then you are certainly sacrificing flexibility (and vice versa). However, performing exercises for both strength and flexibility need not sacrifice either one. As a matter of fact, flexibility training and strength training can actually enhance one another.

  • Why Bodybuilders Should Stretch
  • Why Contortionists Should Strengthen

Why Bodybuilders Should Stretch

  • Why Contortionists Should Strengthen: (next subsection)
  • Strength and Flexibility: (beginning of section)

One of the best times to stretch is right after a strength workout such as weightlifting. Static stretching of fatigued muscles (see section Static Stretching) performed immediately following the exercise(s) that caused the fatigue, helps not only to increase flexibility, but also enhances the promotion of muscular development (muscle growth), and will actually help decrease the level of post-exercise soreness. Here’s why:

After you have used weights (or other means) to overload and fatigue your muscles, your muscles retain a “pump” and are shortened somewhat. This “shortening” is due mostly to the repetition of intense muscle activity that often only takes the muscle through part of its full range of motion. This “pump” makes the muscle appear bigger. The “pumped” muscle is also full of lactic acid and other by-products from exhaustive exercise. If the muscle is not stretched afterward, it will retain this decreased range of motion (it sort of “forgets” how to make itself as long as it could) and the buildup of lactic acid will cause post-exercise soreness. Static stretching of the “pumped” muscle helps it to become “looser”, and to “remember” its full range of movement. It also helps to remove lactic acid and other waste-products from the muscle. While it is true that stretching the “pumped” muscle will make it appear visibly smaller, it does not decrease the muscle’s size or inhibit muscle growth. It merely reduces the “tightness” (contraction) of the muscles so that they do not “bulge” as much.

Also, strenuous workouts will often cause damage to the muscle’s connective tissue. The tissue heals in 1 to 2 days but it is believed that the tissues heal at a shorter length (decreasing muscular development as well as flexibility). To prevent the tissues from healing at a shorter length, physiologists recommend static stretching after strength workouts.

Why Contortionists Should Strengthen

  • Why Bodybuilders Should Stretch: (previous subsection)
  • Strength and Flexibility: (beginning of section)

You should be “tempering” (or balancing) your flexibility training with strength training (and vice versa). Do not perform stretching exercises for a given muscle group without also performing strength exercises for that same group of muscles. Judy Alter, in her book Stretch and Strengthen, recommends stretching muscles after performing strength exercises, and performing strength exercises for every muscle you stretch. In other words: “Strengthen what you stretch, and stretch after you strengthen!”

The reason for this is that flexibility training on a regular basis causes connective tissues to stretch which in turn causes them to loosen (become less taut) and elongate. When the connective tissue of a muscle is weak, it is more likely to become damaged due to overstretching, or sudden, powerful muscular contractions. The likelihood of such injury can be prevented by strengthening the muscles bound by the connective tissue. Kurz suggests dynamic strength training consisting of light dynamic exercises with weights (lots of reps, not too much weight), and isometric tension exercises. If you also lift weights, dynamic strength training for a muscle should occur before subjecting that muscle to an intense weightlifting workout. This helps to pre-exhaust the muscle first, making it easier (and faster) to achieve the desired overload in an intense strength workout. Attempting to perform dynamic strength training after an intense weightlifting workout would be largely ineffective.

If you are working on increasing (or maintaining) flexibility then it is very important that your strength exercises force your muscles to take the joints through their full range of motion. According to Kurz, Repeating movements that do not employ a full range of motion in the joints (like cycling, certain weightlifting techniques, and pushups) can cause of shortening of the muscles surrounding the joints. This is because the nervous control of length and tension in the muscles are set at what is repeated most strongly and/or most frequently.

Overflexibility

  • Strength and Flexibility: (previous section)
  • Flexibility: (beginning of chapter)

It is possible for the muscles of a joint to become too flexible. According to SynerStretch, there is a tradeoff between flexibility and stability. As you get “looser” or more limber in a particular joint, less support is given to the joint by its surrounding muscles. Excessive flexibility can be just as bad as not enough because both increase your risk of injury.

Once a muscle has reached its absolute maximum length, attempting to stretch the muscle further only serves to stretch the ligaments and put undue stress upon the tendons (two things that you do not want to stretch). Ligaments will tear when stretched more than 6% of their normal length. Tendons are not even supposed to be able to lengthen. Even when stretched ligaments and tendons do not tear, loose joints and/or a decrease in the joint’s stability can occur (thus vastly increasing your risk of injury).

Once you have achieved the desired level of flexibility for a muscle or set of muscles and have maintained that level for a solid week, you should discontinue any isometric or PNF stretching of that muscle until some of its flexibility is lost (see section Isometric Stretching, and see section PNF Stretching).

Go to the previous, chapter.

Push-Ups Increase Strength and Endurance

The Push-Up. It is such a basic movement for the human body to do, however, one of the best exercises to perform in order to increase muscular strength and endurance, 2 of the 11 components of physical fitness. A basic push-up involves several muscle groups: upper and lower pectorals (chest), all 3 heads of the deltoids (shoulders), triceps (the back of the upper arm), rhomboids and teres major and minor (smaller muscles in the upper back), and the core. When done properly, the push-up can increase muscle mass, improve one’s posture, and increase stamina during daily activities and recreational sports.

The basic push-up is great for beginner and intermediate fitness enthusiasts. However, for those of you that can pump out 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions with ease, it is time to progress by making the basic push-up more challenging. More advanced push-ups can be done by incorporating the use of medicine balls, fit-balls, BOSU, aerobics step, or leg movements. Utilizing equipment not traditionally used in a standard push-up will not only make your upper body stronger, it will increase muscular strength and endurance throughout your entire body, especially the core.

Our latest YouTube video will give you examples of the most basic push-up and gradually progress you to more advanced push-ups using a fit-ball and BOSU. If you can master a fit-ball push-up on your toes with a pike for 3 sets of 15 repetitions, then you are certainly advanced in your training and ready to move on to even more challenging exercises. These I will save for another video.

So if you want a challenge, check out the “Push-Up” video on my YouTube channel. Choose three of the push-ups presented. Try to do 3 sets of 15 reps for each push-up you choose. Give about 45-60 seconds rest between each set. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t reach this goal. It takes time and a lot of determination to master these advanced push-ups. Just keep trying every week and your strength and endurance will improve. Stay motivated, GOOD LUCK!

SCIENCE SHOWS YOU SHOULDN’T GIVE UP ON THE PUSH-UP

For many of us push-ups conjure up a sense of dread, which is no surprise given they have long-been associated with intimidating fitness drills or physical punishment for wrongdoing. However, despite their sometimes cringe-inducing past, push-ups have secured their place as an exercise staple, and are now adored by fitness gurus across the globe.

But the easier to manage push-up on your knees variation doesn’t always get the same adoration. In fact, these modified push-ups often cop a fair bit of flack, with some labelling them as an ineffective exercise that won’t get you any stronger.

Now, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics clears up the conflict, showing that both the toe and knee variations of the push-up are worthwhile. The findings are very encouraging, explains Jinger Gottschall, Associate Professor at Penn State University and lead researcher of the study. “We were able to demonstrate that the overall ratio of muscle activation in the upper body when you do a push-up on your knees or toes is actually the same. It shows that knee push-ups are a surprisingly valuable alternative if you cannot perform a push-up on your toes with proper technique.”

So whether you can smash sets on your toes or stick to your knees, push-ups are a move you need to love!

What makes push-ups so good?

Push-ups are much more than just an upper body exercise. They work the pecs, deltoids and triceps while strengthening the muscles of the core. On top of improved upper body definition push-ups build muscular endurance and create lean muscle mass that improves overall fitness and good health.

When compared to the bench press, another popular chest exercise, push-ups provide more effective functional training. The Penn State University study participants generated 50 percent more activation in the abdominals during push-ups compared to bench press repetitions with parallel weight.

The best push-up technique

There’s no dispute that the most effective push-ups are push-ups on your toes, as they engage a greater amount of activation in the muscles of the upper body and core – demanding whole body integration. However, push-ups on your toes can be pretty challenging and many people, especially older adults or individuals new to exercise, cannot safely complete multiple push-ups on their toes. All too often the hips and neck are not aligned properly and consequently the risk of injury outweighs the rewards. “When people are struggling to lower themselves towards the ground in a toe push-up position, they shouldn’t give up or feel discouraged, says Gottschall. “We can now be confident that push-ups on your knees are an effective modification.”

How to progress from knee push-ups to toe push-ups

The good news is that if you do enough push-ups on your knees you’ll be up on your toes in no time. Gottschall explains that, as the muscle activation in knee and toe push-ups is the same, if you consistently perform enough push-ups on your knees to reach a point of fatigue you will soon become strong enough to do push-ups on your toes.

Bryce Hastings, Les Mills’ Head of Research and Technical Advisor agrees with Gottschall’s advice, saying once you are confident doing 16 push-ups on the knees, then you are ready to try push-ups on your toes.

“If you feel confident doing 16 knee push-ups, you can just start to try some on your toes and see how you feel. If you need to, you can revert back to the other style until you gradually build up your strength over time to be able to do more on your toes than your knees,” he says.

GET THE 16-DAY PUSH-UP CHALLENGE

Once you’ve mastered the toe push-up the sky’s the limit. The Guinness world record for most push-ups in one hour is held by David Escojido who did 2,298 push-ups in 60 minutes. Charles Servizio holds the current world record for most push-ups in 24 hours. He ticked off a whopping 46,001 push-ups in just 21 hours, 6 minutes.

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By: Greg Roth

Here at the Center for Fitness and Wellness we perform three basic exercise tests in order to measure muscular endurance and muscular strength. Upper body muscular endurance is assessed via the the 60 second push up test, while abdominal strength and muscular endurance is assessed with the curl up test. A hand grip test is used to assess overall muscular strength.
Muscular endurance is defined as the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to repeatedly exert force against resistance.1 Muscular strength is defined as the maximum amount of force that a muscle can exert against some form of resistance in a single effort.2

There are two types of muscle fibers that allow for both muscular endurance and muscular strength. These are the fast and slow twitch fibers. Fast twitch fibers, also called Type 2 fibers, are the main source of muscular strength. Fast twitch fibers are able to produce more force but they fatigue much faster than slow twitch fibers. Slow twitch, or Type 1, fibers are mainly used for muscular endurance exercises because they contract more slowly and take a much longer time to fatigue.3

To perform the pushup test a pushup counter is used. This device counts your reps each time you touch your chest to it at the bottom of the pushup. It also starts a 60 second timer the first time you touch the counter. For both males and females the elbows must be bent at 90 degrees at the bottom of the movement and fully extended at the top in order for the repetition to count. Also, the client’s back must remain flat and they are only allowed to rest while at the top of the movement. Females must keep their knees on the ground while males must perform the pushup while on their toes. Only push ups that are full range of motion are counted toward your total.

In order to perform the curl up test knees must be bent with feet flat on the floor. There is no time limit for this test only a metronome which beeps giving you the required tempo for the movement. Your hands start on a black line marked on the mat with your shoulder blades against the floor. On the first beep you move your hands to the second black line marked on the mat. You then move back and forth touching either the first or second line after each subsequent beep. All complete reps without feet leaving the floor and tempo being kept are counted. There is a max score of 75 reps.

The push up and curl up test are both valid and reliable ways of testing muscular endurance and are easy to administer with very little equipment. If you wish to improve your muscular endurance a great way to train is with a medium load and a higher set of repetitions. More information on muscle training can be found in our program design article.

The hand grip test is administered with the use of a hand grip dynamometer. The dynamometer is first set to the appropriate size for the individual being tested. This test is done while standing, your arm must remain straight against your side with a 90 degree bend in the elbow. You are then asked to squeeze the dynamometer as hard as possible. The test is administered on the right and left hand twice, taking the highest of each number and adding them together. The results are measured in kilograms.

This test is beneficial because it is correlated to overall muscular strength. It is also very easy to administer and requires little space and only one piece of equipment.

If you are looking to improve your hand grip and overall muscular strength it is a good idea to train with heavy compound movements such as deadlifts, squats or bench press, using a higher load with a lower amount of reps. You can also specifically train your grip with farmers walks or shrugs where you are needed to hold heavy weights for a long period of time.

If you have any questions about program design or training to improve any aspect of your fitness, stop by the Center for Fitness and Wellness any time and we would be happy to help!

Sources:

How to Select the Right Intensity and Repetitions for Your Clients

Are you familiar with the movie Groundhog Day? In the movie the main character, played by Bill Murray, has to relive the same day over and over and over until he finally does everything right. If you work in a health club, you might be familiar with that phenomenon. It can often feel like you can walk through your gym floor at a given time on any day and see the same members on the same pieces of equipment doing the same exercises with the same amount of weight. I recently visited a gym where I used to teach a few group fitness classes in the early 2000s. It was early on a weekday evening at about the same time I used to teach. As I walked through the facility it felt like a time warp because I saw a number of the same members on the same pieces of equipment that they had been using years earlier when I worked there regularly.

Insanity can be described as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. The overload principle of exercise program design states that to create physiological changes an exercise stimulus must be applied at an intensity greater than the body is accustomed to receiving. One of the most common challenges faced by the average fitness enthusiast is reaching a plateau, where exercise no longer seems to have an effect and the body stops making any physiological changes. This happens because, just like the Groundhog Day scene described above, doing the same exercises with the same weight for the same number of repetitions will not create a sufficient overload to initiate any physiological changes. To cause an adaptation with resistance training, it is necessary to either perform enough repetitions to cause momentary fatigue of the involved muscles or use a resistance that is heavy enough to induce fatigue after only a few repetitions.

A high-intensity heavy load applies a mechanical stress to muscle, while performing a high number of repetitions creates a significant metabolic stress. Both types of stress can stimulate the physiological reactions related to muscle growth and definition. Whether it is by the amount of weight used or performing reps to fatigue, the demand on the involved muscles should be sufficient to initiate both neurological and structural adaptations.

Therefore, the two variables of program design most closely related with the overload principle are intensity and repetitions. Intensity is the magnitude of resistance used and is commonly expressed as a percentage of the one-repetition maximum (%1-RM) for a particular lift. Another way to describe intensity is by listing the maximum number of repetitions that can be performed for a particular lift. For example, if an individual can bench press 200 pounds for a total of 10 repetitions and is unable to perform another rep, then 200 is his or her 10-RM. Either method of describing intensity can be used by to assign specific intensities for the exercise in an individual’s workout program.

A repetition is a single, individual action of the muscles responsible for creating movement at a joint or series of joints. A repetition involves three phases of muscle action: eccentric lengthening, which is a momentary isometric pause and concentric shortening. The number of repetitions assigned for an exercise indicates the number of times an individual should perform that particular movement. As mentioned above, to create the necessary overload to promote specific adaptations, repetitions should be performed until momentary muscle fatigue occurs.

Repetitions and intensity have an inverse relationship; as intensity increases the number of repetitions that an individual is able to perform decreases. Higher-intensity loads can only be performed for a few repetitions, while lower-intensity loads can be moved for a relatively high number of repetitions before fatigue sets in. It is not necessary to put a client through strenuous strength testing to identify his or her 1-RM. The table below relates the number of repetitions that can be performed at a specific amount of intensity for different training outcomes.

Recommended Training Volumes to Achieve Specific Goals

Training Goal

Repetitions

Intensity (% 1-RM)

Strength Endurance

≥ 12

≤ 67%

Hypertrophy

6 – 12

67 – 85%

Maximum Strength

≤ 6

≥ 85%

Power

  • Single-repetition event
  • Multiple-repetition event

1 – 2
3 – 5

80 – 90%
75 – 85%

Reference: NSCA Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.) 2008.

  • Strength endurance is the ability to produce and sustain muscle force over an extended period of time.
  • Hypertrophy is the technical term for an increase in muscle size (and definition).
  • Maximum strength is the ability to generate a maximal amount of muscle force for a particular exercise.
  • Power is the ability to generate a significant magnitude of force in the shortest amount of time possible.

The intensity of an exercise will determine the number of repetitions that can be performed. For example, if a client has a goal to develop hypertrophy (the technical term for muscle definition) then he or she should use enough intensity per exercise to only be able to perform six to 12 repetitions, fatiguing by the final rep. If a client can only execute 12 repetitions with a particular weight for an exercise, then that weight is the 12-RM. As soon as the client can do more than 12 reps the weight should be increased so the rep range stays between six and 12. It should be noted that if the training goal is to improve muscle tone or definition, the exercises MUST be performed to fatigue. This is the only way to induce the overload to create that response.

Given the popularity of high-intensity fitness programs, it is important to note the recommended rep ranges for power-specific exercises. Training for muscular power places tremendous metabolic and mechanical demands on muscle tissue and can rapidly fatigue the nervous system responsible for maintaining proper joint mechanics. When using heavy weights for technical power-based lifts like the snatch or the clean-and-jerk, the rep range should focus on the maximum force output for one or two reps and, at the most, be limited to no more than four or five. The snatch and clean-and-jerk are technically demanding lifts. If an individual tries to perform too many without sufficient rest or recovery, he or she is at significant risk of injury.

If a client is interested in improving muscle “tone,” there are two options for intensity and repetitions, either of which can recruit the type II (fast twitch) motor units and muscle fibers responsible for improving definition:

  • Use a moderate-intensity load (approx. 67-85% 1-RM) to fatigue by six to 12 reps; or
  • A low-intensity load where the client performs reps to fatigue (the inability to do another rep)

If an individual is hiring you as a personal trainer or taking the time to participate in your group workouts, he or she is most likely interested in seeing results. Adding repetitions or increasing Intensity can challenge clients or class participants to work harder than they might on their own. Overload doesn’t need to be significant, but it does need to be consistent and effective to create results!

Part 1: How to Select the Right Exercises for Your Clients

What determines training frequency?

#2. Recovery of the lifter

Immediately after a strength training workout, we experience a reduced ability to exert force. There are three factors that produce this effect: (1) peripheral (local muscular) fatigue, (2) muscle damage, and (3) central nervous system fatigue.

Importantly, the impact of each of these factors changes over time.

Peripheral (local muscular) fatigue can occur due to reductions in the activation of individual muscle fibers (either because of a decrease in the sensitivity of actin-myosin myofilaments to calcium ions, or because of a reduction in the release of calcium ions from the sarcoplasmic reticulum), or through factors affecting the ability of individual muscle fibers to produce force, which involves impairments in the function of actin-myosin crossbridges. However it occurs, the effects of peripheral fatigue are very transitory.

We are recovered from peripheral fatigue within a few hours.

Muscle damage can involve a range of things. It can involve very small amounts of damage to internal structures within the muscle fiber, such as the cytoskeleton or the contractile proteins. Indeed, one of the most common signs of mild muscle damage is a derangement of the Z disks, which are lines that separate one sarcomere from the next. Muscle damage can also involve tearing of the cell membrane, and severe damage can involve complete tears of the muscle fibers themselves. All of these types of damage are repaired by carrying out additions to the structures of the existing muscle fiber. Very severe damage cannot be repaired, and this leads to fiber necrosis. When this happens, the remains of the old muscle fiber are completely degraded by proteases and a new muscle fiber is grown inside the cell membrane of the old fiber, through a process called regeneration.

Some types of strength training involve little or no muscle damage, while others involve a great deal of muscle damage. Also, muscle damage can differ between muscle groups, muscle fiber types, and individuals. Depending on the degree of muscle damage, the repair or regeneration process can last anything between no time at all, and several weeks.

Central nervous system fatigue can occur either because of a reduction in the size of the signal sent from the brain or the spinal cord, or because of an increase in afferent feedback that reduces motor neuron excitability. Central nervous system fatigue is not the same thing as how we feel about doing the next workout, which seems to be more closely related to the amount of muscle damage that we have experienced. Rather, it is simply the extent to which we can voluntarily activate the trained muscle.

Central nervous system fatigue is a lot smaller and more short-lived after strength training than most people believe, which is probably because of a confusion about the meaning of the term. We assume that because we do not feel ready for the next workout, we must be experiencing central nervous system fatigue, which is not necessarily the case. In fact, central nervous system fatigue tends to increase with increasing exercise duration rather than intensity, making it more pronounced after endurance training.

However, when the muscle damage is severe, such as after unaccustomed eccentric-only training or high volumes of conventional strength training, this can trigger extended periods of central nervous system fatigue that can last up to 2–3 days after the workout.

These three types of fatigue have different effects on the impact of subsequent workouts.

When we are still experiencing peripheral fatigue at the point of doing a subsequent workout (which would be very unusual, since that would require us to perform another workout within hours of the previous one), this does not influence the hypertrophic stimulus. The high level of peripheral fatigue leads to an increase in motor unit recruitment and a reduced fiber shortening velocity, which means that our high-threshold motor units are recruited sooner, and we perform fewer reps but still achieve the same mechanical loading on the target muscle fibers.

When we are still experiencing central nervous system fatigue at the point of doing a subsequent workout, this affects the hypertrophic stimulus. If we cannot fully activate a muscle during training, we will not stimulate its high-threshold motor units, and thereby we will fail to produce any mechanical loading on the muscle fibers controlled by those motor units, and this will reduce the amount of hypertrophy that results. In practice, central nervous system fatigue is caused either by aerobic exercise or muscle-damaging strength training performed in close proximity to the workout.

When we are still suffering from muscle damage at the point of doing a subsequent workout, this affects the hypertrophic stimulus for two reasons. Firstly, it can affect the hypertrophic stimulus to the extent that it triggers any central nervous system fatigue. Secondly, it can lead to oxidative stress that interferes with the elevation in muscle protein synthesis rates that occurs as a result of the anabolic signaling triggered by mechanical loading. Therefore, even when we are capable of fully activating a muscle, muscle damage can impede hypertrophy by interfering with the signaling processes.

Strength Training 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Sets, Reps and Rest Periods

Two of the most important aspects of an effective strength training routine include volume and intensity. Volume refers to the number of sets and reps performed for a given resistance exercise, while intensity refers to the amount of resistance used.

To determine the amount of sets and reps you should perform and how much weight you should use, first you’ll want to establish a clear cut goal. What do you hope to accomplish through strength training? The ideal amount of reps and sets performed for someone aiming to build muscle mass will be different than for someone who wants to increase muscular endurance.

Once your goal is established, you may want to determine your one rep max (1RM), or the greatest amount of weight that your muscles can bear while successfully completing one repetition of an exercise. This is one benchmark that you can use to later determine the amount of weight you’ll need to use in order to reach your goal.

See: How to Calculate Your One Rep Max

However, using your 1RM as a benchmark can be quite time consuming because to maintain accuracy throughout your training program it will need to constantly be recalculated. An alternative and less time consuming method of measuring your base strength includes calculating your repetition max (RM)—the greatest load you can lift for a specific number of repetitions of a given exercise.

Once you have an idea of your base strength you can start to establish a plan for how many reps and sets you will perform as well as the amount of rest that you will take between each set. Depending on your goals you may perform anywhere from 3 to 6 sets with 6-15 repetitions and 30 seconds to as much as 5 minutes of rest between sets.

When it comes to the number of sets performed The American College of Sports Medicine says that multiple set programs are most beneficial for building strength, power, muscle mass and endurance. For those with long term progression goals (as opposed to short term maintenance) periodized multiple-set programs will yield the best results. How to periodize the number of sets you perform will be explained in greater detail below.

If you are training for muscular strength…
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends performing less repetitions (8-12) with maximal or near- maximal resistance (about 75-95% of your 1RM) and with rest periods of about 3 to 5 minutes between sets for multijoint, large muscle group exercises like squats or deadlifts. Slightly shorter rest periods may be sufficient for single-joint movements and exercises that target smaller muscle groups. Perform at least 3 sets of each exercise.

If you are training for muscular endurance…
ACSM recommends performing a higher number of repetitions (about 10-15) with a lesser load (about 40-60% of your 1RM) and with short rest periods of about 90 seconds or less. Perform 3 to 5 sets of each exercise.

If you are training for increased muscle mass…
ACSM recommends performing a high number of reps but with a slightly lesser load (6-12 RM zone) and with rest periods of about 1 to 2 minutes between sets. Perform 3 to 5 sets of each exercise.

The following chart explains the four phases of a traditional four-week linear periodization program:

Just like with any exercise program, you’ll want to make sure to include periodization so that your workouts don’t become too routine. Once your body adapts to the stimulus of the program, it’s important to make tweaks so that you will continue to see improvements. This also includes incorporating a variety of different exercises in your routine.

To read more about progressing your program see: Strength Training 101

Soucre: ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer; Third Edition

FW190 Muscular Strength and Endurance

FW190 Muscular Strength and Endurance

  1. 1. Chapter 4 Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 1
  2. 2.  Ahead:  Basic Muscle Physiology and the Effects of Strength Training  Assessing Muscular Strength and Endurance  Creating a Successful Strength Training Program  Weight Training Exercises Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 2
  3. 3.  Muscles make up more than 40% of body mass  Muscular strength and endurance are vital to health, wellness, and overall quality of life © JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images RF Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 3
  4. 4.  Muscle fiber: single muscle cell, usually classified according to strength, speed of contraction, and energy source  Myofibrils: protein structures that make up muscle fibers  Hypertrophy: increased size of muscle fiber  Atrophy: decrease in size of muscle fiber  Hyperplasia: increase in number of muscle fibers Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 4
  5. 5.  Slow-twitch fibers: red muscle fibers that are fatigue-resistant but have a slow contraction speed and a lower capacity for tension  Fast-twitch fibers: white muscle fibers that contract rapidly and forcefully but fatigue quickly  Power: ability to exert force rapidly Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 5
  6. 6. Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 6
  7. 7.  Motor unit: a motor nerve (one that initiates movement) connected to one or more muscle fibers  Muscle learning: improvement in the body’s ability to recruit motor units, brought about through strength training Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 7
  8. 8.  Strength training helps prevent and manage cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes  Improves glucose metabolism  Increases maximal oxygen consumption  Reduces blood pressure  Increases HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol  Improves blood vessel health Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 8
  9. 9.  Repetition maximum (RM): maximum amount of resistance that can be moved a specified number of times  1-RM is the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted one time; 5-RM is the maximum weight that can be lifted five times  Repetitions: number of times an exercise is performed during one set Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 9
  10. 10.  Key terms:  Tendon: tough band of fibrous tissue; connects a muscle to a bone or other body part and transmits force exerted by muscle  Ligament: tough band of tissue; connects ends of bones or supports organs  Cartilage: tough, resilient tissue that acts as a cushion between the bones in a joint  Testosterone: principal male hormone responsible for secondary sex characteristics and increasing muscle size Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 10
  11. 11. CHANGE BENEFITS Increased muscle mass* and strength Increased muscular strength Improved body composition Higher rate of metabolism Improved capacity to regulate fuel use with aging Toned, healthy-looking muscles Increased longevity Improved quality of life Increased utilization of motor units during muscle contractions Increased muscular strength and power Improved coordination of motor units Increased muscular strength and power Increased strength of tendons, ligaments, and bones Lower risk of injury to these tissues Increased storage of fuel in muscles Increased resistance to muscle fatigue Increased size of fast-twitch muscle fibers (from a high-resistance program) Increased muscular strength and power Increased size of slow-twitch muscle fibers (from a high-repetition program) Increased muscular endurance Increased blood supply to muscles (from a high-repetition program) and improved blood vessel health Increased delivery of oxygen and nutrients Faster elimination of wastes Biochemical improvements (for example, increased sensitivity to insulin) Enhanced metabolic health and. possibly, increased life span Improved blood fat levels Reduced risk of heart disease Increased muscle endurance Enhanced ability to exercise for long periods and maintain good body posture *Due to genetic and hormonal differences, men will build more muscle mass than women, but both men and women make about the same percentage gains in strength through a good program. Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 11
  12. 12.  Stressed muscles adapt and improve  The type of adaptation depends on the type of stress Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 12
  13. 13.  Static (isometric) exercise: exercise causing a muscle contraction without a change in the muscle’s length or a joint’s angle © grant pritchard / Alamy RF Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 13
  14. 14.  Dynamic (isotonic) exercise: exercise causing a muscle contraction and a change in the muscle length  Concentric muscle (miometric) contraction: muscle applies enough force to overcome resistance and shortens as it contracts  Eccentric muscle (pliometric) contraction: resistance is greater than the force applied by the muscle and the muscle lengthens as it contracts Courtesy Neil A. TannerCopyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 14
  15. 15.  Constant and variable resistance  Constant resistance exercise: type of dynamic exercise that uses a constant load throughout a joint’s entire range of motion  Variable resistance exercise: type of dynamic exercise that uses a changing load, providing a maximum load throughout the joint’s entire range of motion Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 15
  16. 16.  Other dynamic exercise techniques  Eccentric (pliometric) loading: placing load on the muscle while it is lengthening  Plyometrics: rapid stretching of a muscle group undergoing eccentric stress (the muscle is exerting force while it lengthens), followed by a rapid concentric contraction Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 16
  17. 17.  Other dynamic exercise techniques  Speed loading: moving a load as rapidly as possible ▪ Kettlebell: a type of speed loading using an iron ball with a connected handle; highly ballistic  Isokinetic: the application of force at a constant speed against an equal force © Juriah Mosin / Alamy RFCopyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 17
  18. 18.  Static exercises require no equipment, build strength rapidly, and are useful for rehabilitating joints  Dynamic exercises can be performed with or without equipment  The type of exercise will depend upon individual goals, preferences, and access to equipment Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 18
  19. 19.  Machines are safe, convenient, and easy to use  Many machines provide support for the back  Free weights require more care; strengthen the body for life and sports  Spotter: a person who assists with a weight training exercise done with free weights  Body weight exercise: “train movement and not muscles” Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 19
  20. 20.  Resistance bands  Exercise (stability) balls  Vibration training  Pilates  Medicine balls, suspension training, stones, and carrying exercises  Power-based conditioning programs © McGraw-Hill Education / David Scott © Assembly/Getty Images RF Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 20
  21. 21.  PROS  Stability balls activate muscle and nerve groups that might not otherwise get involved in a particular exercise.  Some exercises, such as the stir the pot exercise, can enhance the stability of supporting joints throughout the body.  Stability balls can be useful for some older adults because they require balance and can enhance overall stability.  Stability balls add variety and challenge to a workout  CONS  Muscle activation when training on unstable surfaces is less effective than traditional training for building strength in muscle groups responsible for a movement or in trunk- stabilizing muscle groups.  Some exercises (such as curl- ups) can be more stressful to certain joints and muscles and promote back or shoulder pain in susceptible people.  Falling off an unstable surface, especially while holding weights, can cause serious injury. 21 Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.
  22. 22.  Frequency of exercise  ACSM recommends two or more non-consecutive days a week for weight training  Allow at least one day of rest  Intensity of exercise: amount of resistance  Resistance: amount of weight lifted determines the way the body adapts  For endurance, choose 40–60% of your maximum 1 RM to perform more reps Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 22
  23. 23.  Time of exercise: repetitions and sets  To improve fitness, you must perform enough repetitions to fatigue your muscles  Set: group of repetitions followed by rest  The length of a rest interval depends on the amount of resistance  Possible signs of overtraining include a lack of progress, chronic fatigue, decreased coordination, and chronic muscle soreness Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 23
  24. 24.  Type or mode of exercise  A complete weight training program works all the major muscle groups  Important to balance exercises between antagonistic muscle groups  Exercise the large-muscle groups first and then the small-muscle groups  Order exercises to work opposing muscle groups in sequence Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 24
  25. 25.  Do a general warm-up and a specific warm-up for the exercises by doing repetitions with lighter weights  For cool-down, relax for 5 to 10 minutes after exercising  Post-exercise stretching may prevent post-exercise soreness Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 25
  26. 26.  Begin training by choosing a weight you can easily move through 8 to 12 repetitions for one set  Gradually add weight and sets until you can perform 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise ▪ As you progress, add weight according to the “two-for-two” rule ▪ Expect to improve rapidly during the first 6–10 weeks ▪ After that, gains come more slowly Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 26
  27. 27. For each workout, complete 8 to 10 of the following exercises, beginning with a 5-10 minute warm-up and ending with a 5-10 minute cool-down:  Bench press: Develops chest, shoulders, triceps  Pull-ups: Develops lats, biceps  Shoulder press: Develops shoulders, trapezius, triceps  Upright rowing: Develops deltoids, trapezius  Biceps curls: Develops biceps  Lateral raises: Develops shoulders  Squats: Develops gluteals, quadriceps  Heel raises: Develops calves  Abdominal curls: Develops abdominals  Spine extensions: Develops Low- and mid-back spine extensors  Side bridges: Develops obliques, quadratus lumborum Frequency: 2–3 nonconsecutive days per week Intensity/Resistance: Weights heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue when exercises are performed with good form for the selected number of repetitions Time: Repetitions: 8–12 of each exercise (10–15 with a lower weight for people over age 50–60); Sets: 1 (doing more than 1 set per exercise may result in faster and greater strength gains); rest 1–2 minutes between exercises. Type of activity: 8–10 strength training exercises that focus on major muscle groups 27 Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education.
  28. 28. Jump to long image description Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 28
  29. 29.  If you desire greater increases in strength, increase the load and the number of sets and decrease the number of reps  Periodization (cycle training) in which the sets, reps, and intensity of exercise vary, may be useful for gaining strength © Taylor Robertson Photography Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 29
  30. 30.  Use proper lifting technique  Use spotters and collars with free weights  Be alert for injuries  Report injuries to your instructor or physician  R-I-C-E  Consult a physician if unusual symptoms occur Courtesy Neil A. Tanner Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 30
  31. 31.  Most substances are ineffective, and many are dangerous  A balanced diet is the best nutritional strategy Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 31
  32. 32.  Performance aids:  Adrenal androgens  Amino acids  Amphetamines  Anabolic steroids  Caffeine  Creatine monohydrate  Diuretics  Energy drinks  Erythropoietin  Ginseng  Growth hormone  Beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate (HMB)  Insulin  “Metabolic optimizing” meals  Nitric acid boosters  Protein, amino acids, polypeptide supplements Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 32
  33. 33.  Body weight  Air squats  Lunges  Burpees with a push-up  Curl-up or crunch  Spine extension (“Bird Dog”)  Isometric side bridge  Thrusters  Overhead squats  Front plank  Push-ups Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 33
  34. 34.  Free weights  Bench press  Pull-up  Shoulder press (overhead or military press)  Upright rowing  Biceps curl  Lateral raise  Squat  Heel raise  Kettlebell swing  Kettlebell one-arm snatch  Kettlebell or dumbbell carry (suitcase carry) Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 34
  35. 35.  Weight machines  Bench press (chest or vertical press) weight machines  Lat pull  Assisted pull-up  Overhead press (shoulder press)  Biceps curl  Pullover  Lateral raise  Triceps extension  Assisted dip  Leg press  Leg extension (knee extension)  Seated leg curl  Heel raise Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 35
  36. 36. Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 36
  37. 37. Session date: March 5 Exercise Weight Sets Reps/secs Bench press 45 2 10 Pull-ups (assisted) 0 2 7 Shoulder press 25 2 10 Upright rowing 10 2 10 Biceps curls 15 2 8 Lateral raise 5 2 12 Squats 45 2 12 Heel raises 45 2 11 Abdominal curls 0 2 25 Spine extensions 0 2 10 Side bridge 0 2 65 Jump back to slide containing original image Copyright © 2017 McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. No reproduction or distribution without the prior written consent of McGraw-Hill Education. 37

7 Steps To Build Strength And Endurance

When you are trying to lose weight fast and stay really healthy at the same time, you have to follow a fitness program based on both strength and endurance. By constantly building more muscle strength, you’ll boost your metabolism and turn your body into a calorie burning engine. You know that the stronger your muscles are the better results you’ll get! And by building endurance, you will be able to do progressively harder workouts and lose weight faster than ever before.

Here are a few ways to improve physical strength and endurance fast:

1. Make sure you are exercising at your maximum heart rate.

The heart is the biggest muscle of your body, and it controls the oxygen flow to your your muscles during physical activity. It is basically working out with you when you are exercising.

To increase cardiovascular endurance, you have to elevate your heart rate by adding more intensity to your cardio exercises. Don’t walk or run slowly for 1 hour on the treadmill at the same moderate pace – you have to increase your heart rate by adding incline on the treadmill or by pumping up the resistance on the elliptical and bike.

To target your maximum heart rate, a good rule of thumb is to subtract your age from 220. For most weight loss exercises your heart should be beating at 60-75% of your maximum heart rate. If you have any heart problems, you should talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.

2. Vary your repetitions and sets – lift heavy weights for strength and light weights for endurance.

If you use heavy weights for strength training, do a low number of reps: 5-10 reps for 2 sets – remember, use weights heavy enough that you reach muscle failure towards the end of the set. To build endurance, the key is to use lighter weights and lift them as many times you can (at least 15-25 reps). It doesn’t matter what exercise you do, use these above guidelines to make the exercise either strength or endurance. Great exercises for both are triceps dips, squats, bicep curls, and chest presses.

3. Take a High Intensity Interval Training class or choose Circuit Training.

Both develop strength and endurance! A circuit can be very short, but it should be at least a 20 minute workout without rest and the circuit should be repeated 3-4 times by performing each set once. You can do this yourself – For example, do one leg-squat and curl, one plank with leg lift, jump squats, etc… followed by any form of abdominal training.

4. Use your body weight as resistance for strength training.

Push-ups, sit-ups, heel raises, chair dips and lunges are just a few exercises that get you into shape fast. For example – when you don’t have the props to do your upper body workout on a bench-press, do a set of 12 push-ups to get the same effect.

5. Watch your breath when lifting weights.

Don’t hold your breath! It can reduce the blood flow to the heart and leads to dizziness and weakness. During strength training, it’s recommended to exhale every time as the exercise gets more difficult and intense.

6. Do Plyometrics.

Plyo exercises are fast, explosive and involve both strength and endurance. This type of training uses a lot of jumps and hops, which improve your body coordination: they coordinate your foot, calf, ankle and hip muscles and build great balance. For example, you just have to hop from one foot to another in 30-60 sec intervals – try it with weights.

7. Don’t forget to regularly evaluate your muscle endurance and strength.

Every couple of weeks, assess the progress you’ve made and try to move toward the next fitness level.

To test your endurance performance, do the squat or the sitting tucks test:

Sitting Tucks: sit on the floor, with your back and toes off the floor and your hands on your head, then bring your one leg to the chest and extend it away from your body while you bring the other leg in. Alternate legs and do as many reps as you can. Count them – this will be your performance baseline.

To test your strength, the push-up test is great:

Do as many you can without a break and when you can’t do anymore, it means that you have reached your maximum performance.

The benefits of strength and endurance performance are numerous: it will lower your body fat, protect you against injuries, help you maintain good posture, and prolong life by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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What’s the Difference Between Muscular Endurance and Muscular Strength?

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By now, you know that strength training is important. Yes, it gives you sleek muscles, but research shows that regularly lifting weights has a bunch of health benefits that go way beyond aesthetics. Thankfully, more group fitness classes than ever are incorporating weights into their routines. Even cardio-focused classes don’t shy away from giving clients a little extra oomph-but when you lift 3- to 8-pound weights on a spin bike for five or so minutes, you’re training your muscles very differently than when you’re busting out a single super-heavy bench press.

That doesn’t mean one type of training is better than the other, and it certainly doesn’t mean you should stick to one training style all the time. In fact, that would be detrimental to your progress, as you need both muscular endurance and strength in your day-to-day life. But what, exactly, is the difference between the two?

Examples: “Sitting up with good posture, or walking home on your commute with good stamina is a test of muscular endurance,” says Corinne Croce, D.P.T., SoulCycle’s in-house physical therapist (who helped design the programming behind the brand’s new class, SoulActivate). Strength, on the other hand, is called on when you need to lift a heavy box, put a suitcase in the overhead bin, or carry a child without getting injured, says Darius Stankiewicz, C.S.C.S., SoulCycle’s in-house strength coach.

Your best course of action: Incorporate both into your weekly routine. But in order to do that, you need to truly understand the difference between muscular endurance and strength. We’ll explain.

What is muscular endurance?

When you head to, say, a spin class, there’s usually an upper-body segment incorporated. It’s typically near the end of class, and it lasts about five minutes. During that time, you rotate between various exercises-biceps curls, overhead presses, and triceps extensions-without rest for what often feels like forever. That, in a nutshell, is building muscular endurance, which is “the ability for the body to work for an extended amount of time,” says Dyan Tsiumis, C.P.T., head instructor at SWERVE Fitness. The longer you can perform that action-whether it’s continuous biceps curls, riding a bike, or running-the more muscular endurance you have.

And while you often use the same muscle groups when building both strength and endurance, depending on the action, different muscle fibers are recruited: “Slow-twitch muscle fibers (type 1) are responsible for endurance, and fast-twitch fibers (type 2) are responsible for strength and power,” says Stankiewicz. When you do endurance activities that train slow-twitch fibers, you improve the ability of your muscles to use oxygen-which helps you perform longer before feeling tired.

Why do I need muscular endurance?

Whether it’s a day-to-day life activity-like when you’re playing with your kids and doing chores around the house-or you’re in the midst of a workout, your body needs muscular endurance. When you have a lot of it, “fatigue will not set in as fast and you will be able to withstand more while using less energy,” says Croce. Think of it like running, suggests Tsiumis. “Muscular strength is a sprint, and muscular endurance is a marathon,” she says. The more endurance you have, the harder you’ll be able to go for a longer distance.

How can I improve muscular endurance?

Cardio training is typically the go-to method, but lifting lighter weights for a higher number of reps can also boost endurance. Be it a barre class, climbing stairs, or swimming, choose something that challenges you and keeps you interested.

Just don’t expect this type of training to make your muscles visibly bigger, explains Tsiumis. “There is little to no increase in the size or strength of the individual muscles themselves,” she says. “Slowly, over time though (in typical studies, about 12 weeks), there is increased strength in individual muscles and a thickening of the muscles that occurs.” So rather than focus on how you look, tune in to how your body feels. If you’re able to run, say, a 10K (6.2 miles) in the amount of time it would normally take you to cover six miles, your endurance is headed in the right direction.

What is muscular strength?

While endurance is all about how long a muscle can perform, muscular strength is how hard it can perform. Or, in more scientific terms, it’s “a measure of the greatest amount of force that muscles produce during a single maximal effort,” says Michael Piermarini, M.S., director of fitness at Orangetheory Fitness. One of the most common ways to test muscular strength is the one-rep max: lifting as much weight as you possibly can during a given exercise (the chest press and deadlift are popular choices) for one rep, and one rep only.

If you’re ever confused about whether you’re working on strength or endurance, think about the amount of weight you’re lifting and how many reps you’re performing, as the relationship is inversely related, suggests Piermarini. Going for lighter weights and a bunch of reps (somewhere in the 15 to 20 range)? That’s endurance. Lifting heavier weight and only a few reps (around 5 to 8)? That’s strength.

Why do I need muscular strength?

For so, so many reasons. Research shows it can counter bone loss and fight osteoporosis, prevent injury, and maybe even decrease your risk of cancer. Plus, “the more muscles you have, the more calories your body burns at rest and over the course of a day,” says Piermarini. (Here’s more on the science of building muscle and burning fat.) Burning more calories with zero extra effort? Yes, please.

How can I improve muscular strength?

Don’t shy away from the heavier side of the weight rack, plain and simple. Experts have said time and time again that women do not have high enough testosterone levels to “get bulky,” so you can throw that excuse out the window.

To get the most bang for your (dumb)bell, Piermarini suggests focusing on functional movements that utilize your entire body. “Functional exercises are those that we, as human beings, perform regularly in our daily lives,” he says. These are movements you perform all day (sometimes without even thinking about it) like squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, rotating, and hinging. Exercises that translate well include squats, reverse and side lunges, push-ups, bench presses, Russian twists, and deadlifts, he says. “They’ll all help make daily activities easier by improving strength, coordination, and balance.”

While you’re training, “don’t get caught up in the mindset that more is always better,” he warns. “Instead, focus on the quality of movement. A strength session could be done in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.” Need some suggestions? Get started with this heavy kettlebell routine or this total-body strength and conditioning workout.

How often should I work on both?

Really, it depends on your goals and where your weaknesses lie. “We are often more adapted genetically to one versus another,” says Stankiewicz, so if you’re simply looking to feel more balanced, then adjust your schedule to favor your weak link. (P.S. Genetic tests like 23andMe can give you a hint about your muscle composition.) In general, though, three sessions a week for both is the standard recommendation, or two if you’re new to training.

Muscular strength is the

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