Strength vs endurance: let’s weigh the difference.
Strength is the basis of all human movement. If we want to remain functional in our daily lives, we must work on and maintain this component of health.
How well do these statements represent you?
- “Lifting your children with ease.”
- “Energetically shoveling snow without experiencing back pain.”
- “Carrying numerous bags of groceries without getting tired.
- “Moving furniture without injuring yourself.”
Whether it’s to carry out your daily tasks more easily or to perform and improve your athletic performance, there are many benefits to training your muscular strength and endurance. In this article, I explain the difference between these two muscular properties. I will also give you more reasons to work them out and guide you on how to improve them.
Strength vs endurance: The difference between them
“How much do you bench press?” That’s a good way to describe muscle strength. It refers to the maximum amount of weight you are able to exert or lift. We usually refer to it as Maximum Strength. For example, being able to lift and set down a heavy piece of furniture three or four times.
Muscular endurance refers more to the ability to produce a submaximal force (a % of the maximum force), for a longer period of time or for numerous reps. So in practical terms, this would be the maximum number of push-ups you are able to do before you reach a level of fatigue. We can therefore state that a person who can do 50 push-ups is said to have better muscular endurance than someone who can do 20.
Why work on muscle strength and endurance?
You may not care about lifting heavy weights at the gym, but working on your strength has benefits beyond the gym. For one thing, strength is very important to maintain as we age. Difficulty sitting and standing or climbing stairs is more a result of a lack of strength, not lack of endurance. So working on your strength today will help maintain your functional ability and independence tomorrow.
Strength is also key to injury prevention. The cause of many injuries is due to tissues that have been exposed to more force than they can handle.
Muscle strength and endurance are equally important in sports. They make sports more enjoyable and improve your performance.
In addition to their impact on age, injury prevention and sports performance, here are a few other benefits of working out both your strength and endurance:
- Facilitates cardiovascular activities
- Reduces joint problems
- Improves bone density
- Counteracts loss of muscle mass
- Improves posture and balance
- Increases resting metabolism
- Improves self-esteem
Simply put, strength and endurance training has a significant impact on the quality of everyday life!
How do you work on muscle strength?
Generally speaking, the ACSM recommends that everyone work on the major muscle groups (i.e. lower body, upper body, abs and back, shoulders, arms and pecs) two to three times a week. If you are a beginner, simply start by ensuring proper technique for each exercise before focusing on the number of reps or load. Opt for global exercises that involve several muscles simultaneously. For example, consider performing a squat versus a leg extension.
As a rule, in order to develop muscular strength, aim to perform a lower number of reps (between 3 and 8) of each exercise with a very heavy load, until momentary muscle failure is reached (not able to perform one more rep). Strength training sessions will also be more intense and less frequent, as they require longer rest periods to ensure full recovery.
How do you work on muscular endurance?
Although you can improve your muscular endurance by doing a large number of reps of different exercises, did you know that one of the best ways to improve your endurance is to strength train? That’s right, by improving our maximal strength, we reduce the effort generated during submaximal workouts, which improves our ability to perform more work, despite a higher number of repetitions.
If you also add cardiovascular exercises to the mix, such as jogging or cycling to your strength training, you will improve your endurance.
Where do you start?
Need tips and inspiration on what exercises to perform to improve your muscular strength and endurance? Do you practice a particular sport and would like to improve your performance? Are you an older individual who wants to start a strength training program to improve your quality of life? Consult one of our professional kinesiologists, either remotely or at any one of our gyms. They will be able to design a customized training program for you. You will be surprised as to how quickly the body responds!