Muscular Strength and Endurance

December 21, 2020

There are five components of physical fitness:  cardiorespiratory endurance, flexibility, body composition, muscular strength and muscular endurance. In this article, I will focus on muscular strength and muscular endurance.

You may be wondering, what is the difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance? Muscular strength is the external force that can be generated by a specific muscle or muscle group on one occasion. Think heavy weights here, muscular strength is generally assessed with a 1 rep max.

Alternatively, muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle group to execute repeated muscle actions over a period sufficient to cause muscular fatigue. The muscles ability to continue to perform successive repetitions or exertions against a sub-maximal load. Think lighter weights here, bodyweight work, etc. One method in which muscular endurance can be assessed is through a protocoled push-up assessment to fatigue.

Building your muscular strength and muscular endurance is paramount to health, wellness and longevity. Below, I have listed below some of the benefits of improving your muscular fitness for both general health and wellness and specific to endurance sport.

General benefits of improving muscular fitness:

  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Fewer cardiovascular disease events
  • Lower risk of developing physical function limitations
  • Lower risk for non-fatal disease
  • Improvements in body composition
  • Improvements in blood glucose levels (think diabetes)
  • Improvements in insulin sensitivity (again, think diabetes)
  • Improved blood pressure in individuals with mild to moderate high blood pressure
  • Improved bone mass and bone strength (of particular importance to women as we age, think osteopenia and osteoporosis)
  • Slows the aging process

Benefits of improving muscular fitness relative to endurance sport:

  • Improved strength
  • Injury prevention
  • Neuromuscular training
  • Improved speed
  • Improved endurance
  • Improved power
  • Delayed onset of fatigue
  • Improved running and cycling economy

Now, we understand the difference between the two and we know their benefits. In my upcoming blog and newsletter, I will discuss how we apply this in training to maximize results and obtain the highest impact. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you haven't!

Citation
  • Riebe, D., Ehrman, J. K., Liguori, G., & Magal, M. (2018). ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  • Millet GP, Jaouen B, Borrani F, Candau R. Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and .VO(2) kinetics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Aug;34(8):1351-9. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200208000-00018. PMID: 12165692.
  • Hausswirth C, Argentin S, Bieuzen F, Le Meur Y, Couturier A, Brisswalter J. Endurance and strength training effects on physiological and muscular parameters during prolonged cycling. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2010 Apr;20(2):330-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2009.04.008. Epub 2009 May 26. PMID: 19473854.
  • Ronnestad BR, Mujika I. Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Aug;24(4):603-12. doi: 10.1111/sms.12104. Epub 2013 Aug 5. PMID: 23914932.
  • Vikmoen O, Ronnestad BR, Ellefsen S, Raastad T. Heavy strength training improves running and cycling performance following prolonged submaximal work in well-trained female athletes. Physiol Rep. 2017;5(5):e13149. doi:10.14814/phy2.13149
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