Muscular endurance vs muscular strength for Hypertrophy

Muscular endurance vs muscular strength


Strength training is important to achieve longevity and when we talk about endurance most of the people will relate to those skinny marathon runners. But muscle endurance is something that derives lifters confused.  

Training for muscle endurance and muscle strength are two different methods that play an influential role in achieving superior hypertrophy gains. 

The basic difference between muscular endurance vs muscular strength: Muscular endurance is about your muscle’s ability to exert continuous force without reaching fatigue; while muscular strength refers to the amount of force a muscle can produce with a single maximal effort. Training for muscle endurance and muscle strength requires different strategies; and both complement each other by improving performance.

Before we get on the differences lets understand the importance of muscle endurance and strength; bodybuilders are high-level professionals and powerlifters are high-level professionals too but they both don’t train the same way. Bodybuilders are focused on more hypertrophy and powerlifters are focused on maximum strength.

This article is going to cover every detail about muscular endurance vs muscular strength, but our intention is not to decide which one is better but to make you aware of the benefits of both training methods. Ahead in this article, we will also be educating you about the right process to help you strengthen both. 

What is muscular endurance? 

Do not confuse muscular endurance with cardiovascular endurance; they both are different, although training for one will help in strengthening the other too. 

Cardiovascular endurance is all about your heart and lungs’ ability to continuously deliver oxygenated blood to sustain physical activity. Muscular endurance is about your muscle’s ability to exert continuous force without reaching fatigue. 

Jogging, skipping, swimming is a part of cardiovascular strengthening, rowing, skiing, high volume weight training is a part of muscular endurance development. 

Why do you need muscular endurance for hypertrophy?

Developing better muscular endurance will certainly help you burn more calories but this article is all about hypertrophy (muscle gain), let’s understand the benefits of muscular endurance for hypertrophy. 

Developing muscle endurance will help you complete more reps and more sets without experiencing muscle fatigue and failure. 

Training for muscle endurance also leads to a unique adaptation within muscle cells which helps in the creation of mitochondria within the cell. Training high volume leads to the depletion of glycogen reserves which sends signals to the brain that muscle requires more energy. To fulfill the body’s increased energy demands, the body activates “mitochondrial biogenesis”. 

The creation of more mitochondria leads to the production of more ATP which directly assists in going harder while strength training.

Example: Gymnasts trains for muscle endurance to improve their body’s ability to display extraordinary moves like IRON CROSS, STRADDLE PLANCHE 

What is muscular strength?

I don’t think that muscle strength needs any introduction but I will cover the subject in short. 

Muscular strength refers to the amount of force a muscle can produce with a single maximal effort. One of the best methods of testing someone’s muscular strength is to calculate their one-rep max. 

Someone’s muscular strength can be best determined by a lifter’s ability to do squats, deadlifts, and bench press. 

Just after discussing Muscular endurance vs muscular strength, we will be discussing the best tips to develop both. 

Muscular endurance vs muscular strength?

Knowing the difference is essential to know the importance of both and knowing the difference will also help you choose the best approach to reach your goals. 

1- Muscle fiber involvement

One of the basic differences between endurance training and strength training is their ability to activate different muscle fibers. 

While muscle endurance training helps in the development of slow-twitch muscle fibers, strength training assists in the development of Fast-twitch muscle fibers. 

Fast-twitch muscle fibers are known for their ability to exert maximum force for a short period of time and these muscles have got the ability to grow bigger and stronger. 

Slow-twitch fibers are capable of sustaining low force over long durations. Whether you are running long distances or rowing, these muscle groups come into play. 

Human skeletal muscle comprises these slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers in a different ratio, that’s the reason some are naturally stronger and others are gifted with greater endurance. Strengthening both muscle groups will certainly improve your performance and will help in achieving better hypertrophy goals.  

But when you take your muscular endurance training to the failure, it leads to the development of both Slow twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers. 

2- Fuel source

For decades, people believed that training high volume with higher reps will lead to muscle toning and fat loss. But then Instagram and Youtube gurus arrived, those self-proclaimed fitness gurus said “cardio is bad” or “lift heavy to shred fat”.

The fact is, Endurance training primarily relies on Fat metabolization & Strength training primarily relies on the Glycogen reserves.  

Our cells need oxygen to burn fat into ATP, and carbohydrates can be utilized to produce energy without the abundance of oxygen. Muscular endurance training allows better fat oxidation because of the availability of optimum oxygen. 

That does not mean that lifting heavy won’t help you burn fat, lifting heavy weight increases the metabolic rate which results in fat burning. Additionally, every additional pound of muscle mass increases the metabolic rate by 50 calories, so gaining 4-5 pounds of muscle mass can improve the resting metabolic rate by 200-250 calories. 

Endnote: Practicing a high number of reps will not only help in achieving muscular endurance but will also assist in fat oxidization. 

3- Hypertrophy and Strength

Strength training will help you get bigger and stronger, we all know that. But can you get the same hypertrophy effects with high rep ranges (20-30 reps)?

There is substantial evidence that proves the effectiveness of high rep ranges to gain muscle size and hypertrophy. There is a theory called “Henneman’s principle of muscle fiber contraction”, the theory states that the muscle fibers work in a very economical manner and brain employees only slow-twitch fibers (because of their fuel efficiency) to get any movement done but once those slow-twitch endurance fibers fatigue or fail to bear the amount of resistance then your brain employees stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers to get the work done. 

A 2016 study conducted at McMaster University found Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights, they made two groups of trained athletes do the strength training work, one group was made to 20-25 reps until failure and other groups were made to do the conventional strength training with moderate 8-12 reps. “At the point of fatigue, both groups would have been trying to maximally activate their muscle fibers to generate force,” says lead research analyst. 

A study found, both the groups experienced similar muscle gains. A win-win situation for those who like to go lightweights.  

Strength training is proven better than endurance training to achieve strength but that doesn’t mean that muscular endurance training has zero contribution to strength development. Adding some muscular endurance exercises in the training routine can certainly help in gaining a few inches.

So if you are going a heavy bench press for 8-10 reps, it’s a great idea to add 20 more reps with 15kg dumbbells. This technique will help you develop muscle strength, hypertrophy, and endurance all at the same time.  

4- Heart conditioning 

Whether you want to improve the quality of life or you want to train for a longer period, heart conditioning plays a vital role. 

Strength training will not help in heart conditioning unless you are doing the super-sets or taking a very short rest period between the sets. 

Muscular endurance routine improves the heart conditioning because of obvious reasons.  

5- Joint health

I have seen many lifters getting injured because of paying too much emphasis on muscular strength. In order to increase the strength, lifters progress to lift a heavier weight too soon, resulting in injuries. 

Sometimes, you just need to give your joints the optimum time to adapt to the new resistance and let your body get comfortable with it.

Muscle endurance exercises consist of lifting moderate weight for higher reps that protect the joints from the excessive load and also allows the establishment of better mind and muscle connection.

Additionally, going high reps also develops muscle memory that results in performing the same reps in a more fluidic and natural manner.  

Why do you need to work on both? 

Because that is what most of the expert lifters do. 

Incorporating muscular endurance training in your strength workout will help you with the optimum development of all kinds of muscle fibers. Strengthening those slow-twitch muscle fibers will also be proven handy to support your fast-twitch fibers to lift heavier than before.

Muscular endurance training is best done in your low carb days or light lifting days to help your body recover from vigorous strength training days. 

How to improve muscular endurance?

To improve the muscular endurance of the lower body you can choose to bodyweight squats for 50 reps, long-distance lunges, or spinning. 

A rowing machine is one of the best ways to improve muscular endurance at the gym. Additionally, choosing the rep range between 15-25 for your workout will also challenge your endurance to grow stronger. 

How to improve muscular strength?

Progressive overload in the best way to improve strength. If you are someone who follows bodyweight workouts then its important to increase the resistance by progressing to more difficult body movements or by simply wearing a weighted vest to experience added resistance. 

FAQ about Muscular endurance

  1. 1- Who Needs Muscular Endurance?

    Certain movements like a golf swing or an Olympic lift require little muscular endurance and athletes concentrate more on strength and explosiveness.
    Other sports like boxing, wrestling, skiing, kayaking, etc requires extensive muscular endurance to deliver better performance. Your muscular endurance plays an important role in dealing with daily chaos like moving heavy objects, gardening, cleaning, or taking care of kids. Additionally, muscular endurance plays an important role in longer lovemaking sessions with a partner.

  2. 2- Are Push Ups Muscular Strength Or Endurance?

    Initially, regular push-ups will help you develop the basic strength but once you cross a benchmark then it will help you develop extensive upper body endurance too.
    When you improve your ability to perform more pushups, you also increase the body’s time under tension. Increased time under tension challenges your chest, arms, shoulders, core to develop greater endurance.
    To be precise, every time you are working on improving time under tension, you are also working on your muscle endurance.

  3. 3- Squats And Lunges Develops Muscular Strength Or Endurance?

    When you do squats and lunges with heavy weights, you are working on strength development.
    When you do high reps of bodyweight squats and lunges, you are working on muscular endurance. as simple as that.

  4. 4- How Do You Build Upper Muscular Endurance?

    Want to build serious upper-body endurance? Start training calisthenics 3-times a week. High volume bodyweight workout not only helps in the development of muscular endurance but will also strengthen the joints.
    Incorporating kettlebell swings is also a great way to work on upper body endurance. 

  5. 5- Muscular Endurance Vs Stamina

    Out of our reader’s demand, we decided to add this section. Muscular endurance is not the same as muscular stamina. 
    Stamina is determined by your ability to maintain the same intensity while the workout. Example: how long you can run at 15 mph is your stamina. 
    Endurance is your body’s ability to perform certain tasks without keeping up with the intensity. Let’s say if you can run 5K is your endurance, and if you can do it in 30-minutes, it is your stamina. 

Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. 

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