While it's all good to boast about your 500-pound deadlift, one-rep max bench press, or other feats of muscle power and strength, these claims offer little benefit for daily life. Instead, what's more important in your ability to execute everyday activities—like carrying groceries, shoveling snow, or playing with your kids—is muscular endurance, a critical component of healthy aging. If you want to enhance your muscular endurance to perform physically demanding tasks for longer, we have you covered. We chatted with Rachel MacPherson, CPT, an ACE-certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares a stellar kettlebell workout you can do in as little as 10 minutes to help improve muscular endurance.
According to Medical News Today, muscular endurance is your muscles' ability to contract when put against resistance for an extended duration continuously. Not only does muscular endurance help you live longer and carry out daily tasks with ease, but it also improves your quality of life. For example, better muscular endurance can help you maintain good posture, increase stamina, and allow you to lift heavy objects. Additionally, increased muscular stamina allows your muscles to function better. Finally, muscles that work properly can improve your balance and skeletal structure, reducing your risk of falls and injury as you age, says the National Institute on Aging.
"This workout uses the method of metabolic conditioning complexes, which include one upper body movement, a lower body movement, an abdominal/core-based movement, and a cardiovascular movement before a rest period," explains MacPherson. "Before starting, set a timer for 10 minutes, and complete as many rounds as you can with safe and correct form. Using this format, you'll work your entire body and cardiovascular system."
If you want to improve your muscular endurance to help your muscles work harder for longer, look no further. Read on for MacPherson's 10-minute kettlebell workout that delivers high-volume strength training exercises to help take your muscular stamina to the next level. (And when you're done, check out The #1 Free Weights Workout To Boost Your Muscular Endurance.)
Overhead Kettlebell Press
The workout starts with the overheard kettlebell press, an excellent push movement that works several muscle groups in your upper body, including your deltoids (shoulders), pectorals (chest), triceps (upper arms), and trapezius (upper back), according to Healthline.
To perform the overhead kettlebell press, hold a kettlebell by its handle in one hand, and swing it up, flipping it over onto the back of your wrist. Bend your elbow to hold the kettlebell at shoulder height. Press the kettlebell over your head in a shoulder press. Lower the kettlebell slowly, and press again, completing five reps. Switch sides, do five more reps, and immediately move on to the next exercise.
Squats are the most effective leg exercise for sculpting toned legs and building lower-body strength. This squat variation targets your glutes and quads, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
To perform it, hold a kettlebell by the bell or handle in both hands at chest height with your elbows bent. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, and point them out slightly. Hinge your hips back, and bend your knees to lower into a squat with your thighs below parallel. Press through your feet to rise back up while keeping a straight back throughout the movement. Complete 10 reps before proceeding to the next exercise.
This movement enhances your muscular endurance since it engages your core, shoulders, and chest, says MacPherson. Begin by holding a kettlebell by the handle with your arm straight. Next, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or in your natural stance and engage your core. Then, move the kettlebell in front of your body to pass it over to your other hand. Next, pass the kettlebell behind you, and reach your empty hand to meet it and take hold of it. Keep moving the kettlebell around your body, passing between hands, keeping your hips level and core tight. Complete 20 passes before jumping to the final exercise.
One perk of using kettlebells is that they're ideal for specific movements, and the kettlebell swing ranks at the top of this list.
To perform this hallmark kettlebell exercise, place a kettlebell on the floor between your legs. Hinge your hips and bend your knees, reaching down to grasp the kettlebell with both hands. Push through your feet, and contract your glutes to raise your body to a standing position while bringing the kettlebell with you. Avoid using your arm or shoulders to lift the kettlebell, as it should move naturally with your arms using the momentum of your lower body. Then, allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs, smoothly hinging and bending your knees. Contract your glutes to raise back up. Keep swinging for 60 to 120 seconds.
Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the workout for three to five circuits depending on your fitness level.