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What's the difference between muscle strength and endurance?

Our muscles are amazing tissues that help you with everyday movements. There are 3 different types of muscles (skeletal, smooth, and cardiac) and they all work together to provide the body strength, balance, posture, and heat to keep the body warm.

When working your skeletal muscles in a weight lifting capacity you can choose to focus on training for strength vs endurance.

Is there a difference between muscle endurance and strength?

Are they different? Yes, they are! But, just because they’re different doesn’t mean they aren’t equally important.

Are muscular strength and endurance related?

Muscular endurance is your ability to perform an exercise over and over again for a long period of time without getting tired. You use your muscle endurance if you’re going for a run, raking leaves in your yard, or if you’re able to pump out 50 bodyweight squats without breaking a sweat. Muscular strength is your ability to exert force against resistance. For example, if you need to pick up a heavy box.

Your muscles are made up of two different types of fibers called slow twitch, and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch fibers are the ones responsible for endurance. Fast-twitch fibers are responsible for strength and come in two types (A and B). Type A handles both power and endurance while type B are used for short, explosive moves, such as jumping or heaving a heavy weight.

What determines how many of these different types of muscles you have? Genetics. That’s right. Thank your mom and dad for the fact you’re either a superhero, or you can run a marathon without getting tired!

Training for strength vs endurance.

You have a predisposition for one or the other but that doesn’t mean you can’t train to increase your muscle endurance or strength. Build your endurance by lifting lighter weights for a higher number of reps, or running longer and longer distances. Build strength by lifting heavier weights for fewer reps and doing short, powerful sprints. The range for building muscular endurance is typically 12 to 25 reps, and the range for building strength is 2 to 8.

Happy lifting, team!

Next blog post: What is DOMS?

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