Muscular Endurance

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  Muscular endurance is very important for people playing sports and who have to sustain an activity for long periods of time. Muscular endurance is determined by how well your slow twitch muscle fibers are developed. In case your wondering what slow twitch muscle fibers are, I will explain. There are generally two types of muscle fibers in your body, slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch muscle fibers cannot exert as much force as fast twitch, but can sustain an effort over a much greater period of time. Fast twitch muscle fibers can exert a great amount of force but for a very limited amount of time. Therefore, slow twitch equals endurance, while fast twitch equals strength.  

    It is important to pay attention to muscular endurance if you play any sort of sports, or are involved in any sort of physical activity thats lasts for quite a while. For example, such sports as hockey, football, tennis, etc. Another acitivity that is very dependant on muscular endurance is cross country running, in fact it is probably the best example of muscular endurance, as it involves very little muscular strength or flexibilty.  

    If you are looking to improve muscular endurance, the best way would be to involve yourself in just about any cardivascular activity, such as running, biking, and playing sports.  Even walking will help you stay healthy and condition your leg muscles, to a point. If you are looking to improve the endurance of your upper body, bodyweight exercises such as chin-ups, push-ups, triceps dips, etc., will improve this, and your strength as well.  Different sports require different levels of muscular endurance. While each program will vary according to the athlete's needs, muscular endurance can be split into 3 groups:

Power Endurance
Athletes like baseball pitchers, sprinters, 50-m freestyle swimmers, martial artists, wrestlers, fencers, tennis players and so on must produce powerful movements and repeat them several times with little or no rest. In order to maintain the same amount of power with each effort, a certain level of power endurance is required.

Power endurance is typically characterized by intense, repeated efforts for a relatively short period of time (less than 30 seconds) (1). A tennis player for example, has to produce several powerful shots in quick succession during a rally that may only last 10 seconds. A 100-m sprinter may take 48-54 powerful strides over a 10-12 second race and their success depends, in part, on maintaining a high power output in the last 20 meters.

Once maximal strength has been developed (earlier on in the annual strength program) it can be converted into explosive power through various methods of power training. Now power endurance training can be used to train the fast twitch fibres to resist fatgiue allowing explosive power to be maintained for longer.

Power endurance training uses moderate loads of 50-70% 1RM lifted for 15 to 30 repetitions. Because this can lead to a significant build up of lactic acid, rest periods between sets are long (5-7 minutes) and a minimum number of sport-specific exercises are used (about 3-4). Exercises are also completed in a circuit training format i.e. one set of one exercise is completed, then one set of the next exercise and so on. Alternating exercises allows maximum recovery and sufficient time for lactic acid to disperse.

This is a critical rule to follow. If rest intervals are too short and sets are completed while the athlete is fatigued the result will be hypertrophy (increase muscle mass) rather than power endurance. Sets should not be completed to failure but should end when repetitions are no longer powerful and rhythmic.

Muscular Endurance - Short Term
When sports and events consist predominantly of bouts of exercise lasting between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, "short-term" muscular endurance training is advantageous. These could be continuous events such as the 800-m or multi-sprint sports such as soccer....
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