Strength Endurance Training: How To Endure And Win!

If you do strength endurance training you don't have to hope that you'll get an opening at the beginning of a game - when you're still fresh. Instead, you create your own opportunities and openings by having endurance for the whole game.

Weight training is one of the best methods of strength training! If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course!

Many sports, and even daily activities, require not just power and strength. They require you to have that strength well into your game, match, or grocery-carrying trip.

Why Strength Endurance Training?

Sports like Judo require endurance to perform at your best several minutes into a match. One method of getting an edge, then, is strength endurance training.

There are tons of benefits to strength endurance training, both for sports and for daily life. Put simply, it helps a lot.

Rowing, mountain climbing, decathlon, judo matches, and any other physical activity that goes on longer than 1 minute requires endurance.1 So does care-giving, if you are caring for someone who has to be lifted up, turned, or gently placed down. Heck, jogging and carrying groceries both take endurance!

But look carefully at your sport. For powerlifting you'll want to stick with strength and power; if you don't have the base level of strength to perform your sport then, really, you need to work on your strength first.2

Also, you might use strength endurance training to help your other weight lifting. For example, if you do fine on your fist set at max weight, but have trouble doing subsequent sets, try dropping a few pounds and working on endurance. You can make rapid gains in this area, and you can come back to trying several complete sets at your max weight in a week or two.3

It's been infuriating for me to be in a martial arts match, to know the technique I want to use, and yet be unable to pull it off because I don't have the strength. And I know I really do have the strength, normally, but I'm just too tired. That feels horrible.

If you can do the core movements for your sport or discipline at least 10 times, you have the strength you need for that movement.4 The next logical step, then, is to work on your endurance - so that you can pull off that movement in the heat of battle!

Aerobic or Anaerobic Endurance Training?

First off, do you need aerobic endurance or anaerobic endurance? They are 2 fundamentally different types of endurance.5

Aerobic endurance just means 'oxygen-using endurance.' This is what you rely on for something long term activity that forces you to breath heavily (e.g. jogging, biking, rollerblading, swimming or for longer than a few minutes).

Anaerobic endurance means, as you probably guessed, 'not oxygen-using endurance.' This is for movements that are longer than a singular exertion of strength (a few seconds), but not so long as to be aerobic (e.g. helping to lift a table up stairs for a minute, carrying a heavy box up several flights of stairs, etc.).

How To Do Strength Endurance Training

For aerobic endurance training, simply doing more of the activity is an excellent way of increasing endurance. It works.

If you want to have more endurance in jogging or long distance running, run longer distances. And make it more difficult, perhaps by choosing hilly routes that force you to work hard.

Anaerobic training requires a slightly different skill set…

For anaerobic strength endurance training, work with 50-60% of your 1RM (1 rep max), doing 3-5 sets of 15 - 20 repetitions.6 This won't build any strength, but it is the exact sweet spot for developing endurance!7

And make sure you work yourself to the point of muscle failure on each set.8 To the point where you can't possibly do another rep.

Keep in mind what once you've worked up to a given level of strength, making endurance gains lower than your max strength is relatively easy. In one study done by Washburn, his subjects improved their endurance by 10% a week doing short sets working to increase their 15 - 25 RM.9

Another method of increasing anaerobic endurance is to not count your reps. Instead, measure the time that you are doing the reps. Increasing the amount of time your body is under a given level of muscular tension is another way of doing endurance.10

I personally prefer counting (and increasing) the number of repetitions that I do. It's much easier for me to count that than try to keep track of time as I'm pushing myself to the limits of my endurance.

Get The Most Endurance

Get the most out of whatever kind of strength endurance training you're doing by - focusing on that training! As somebody wise and dead said…

"He who chases two hares loses both."

And here's some science to convince you to focus on doing one kind of training at a time.

In one study, Sale and colleagues investigated two groups of people doing 4 workouts a week: 2 of resistance strength training and 2 of aerobic endurance training. The first group did the workouts on 2 days each week (doing the endurance and resistance training back to back). The second group did the workouts on 4 days each week (1 workout per day).11

Those that did the workouts on separate days made a 25% increase in their 1RM for the leg press, compared just a 13% increase for those who did the resistance training and aerobic exercise back to back. So, stick to one form of exercise per day if you want great gains.12

The moral? Keep your weight training program, strength endurance training, and aerobic training (if you're doing all 3) separate.

Doing aerobic training when doing power training is even more detrimental to the power training than it is for strength training. Explosively contracting your muscles and training them for endurance are two completely different styles of training, so if you want good results on either, work on just one of them at a time.13

Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!

• Click here to learn more about other ways to improve or change your Strength Training Routine!


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Strength Endurance Training: How To Endure & Win!

1. Incledon, Lori. 2005. Strength training For Women. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Pp. 48.
2. Brown, Lee E. 2007. Strength Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Pp. 139.
3. Ibid. Pp. 143.
4. Sharkey, Brian J., Steven E. Gaskill, and Brian J. Sharkey. 2007. Fitness & Health. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Pp. 181.
5. Ibid. Pp. 180.
6. Brown. Pp. 37.7. Sharkey. Pp. 180.
8. Incledon. Pp. 48.
9. Sharkey. Pp. 181.
10. Incledon. Pp. 48.
11. Baechle, Thomas R., and Roger W. Earle. 2008.Essentials of Strength Training And Conditioning. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics. Pp. 113-4.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid. Pp. 114.

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