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You Won't Increase Your Muscular Endurance if You're Not Doing These 5 Exercises

Don't leave these moves out of your strength routine.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

When it comes to establishing a well-rounded strength routine, both muscular strength and endurance are key. In a nutshell, muscular endurance is how long you're able to maintain a particular movement pattern or position using a set amount of weight, explains Michelle Ditto, training development manager for Pure Barre. In order to increase your muscular endurance, Ditto says there are five specific exercises you shouldn't skip out on in your workouts.

"While increasing muscular endurance may not lead to bigger muscles necessarily (leave that to muscular strength-focus and increasing weight), it CAN lead to increased stamina and decreased exhaustion over the course of your workouts, providing big benefits with how much you can push yourself in your workouts (and in life!) over time. Increasing muscular endurance can also promote better posture (hello core muscles!) as well as decrease the risk of injury," Ditto says.

Keep reading to learn all about Ditto's top five exercises you shouldn't leave out of your fitness routine if you want to increase your muscular endurance. And next, don't miss The Best Leg-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors.


fitness man performing forearm plank exercise to melt winter gut

"The beauty of a plank is in its versatility," Ditto says. "Forearm, straight arm, side arm… all varieties boast amazing benefits for 'core 4' abdominal muscles, as well as full body engagement, including your thighs, glutes, shoulders, and chest."

To perform a standard forearm plank, you'll want to keep your spine long and neutral, and your hips in line with your shoulders. Push down, making sure your body weight is evenly distributed between your forearms and your feet. Activate your abs. Whatever you do, make sure your lower back doesn't sink or become rounded.

"You can always increase intensity and variation over time. Start with 30 seconds, or even from your knees. If you want to challenge your shoulders more, consider a straight-arm variation. To target your obliques, try a side arm plank. Want more intensity? Try floating one leg for 15 seconds, then switch sides," Ditto suggests.

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Leg Extensions

"Balance and flexibility work hand in hand here to engage your quadriceps in big ways," Ditto tells us.

You'll start this exercise by facing away from a wall or a solid form of support, whether that's a desk, chair, or counter. Place your feet hip-width distance apart. Straighten out one leg in front of your body as high as you're able to without breaking good form and posture. The goal here is to activate your lower abs and stand up super straight. According to Ditto, "The straighter your leg, the more you will feel your quadriceps engage!"

Remain in this position for a total of 30 seconds. Feel free to incorporate little leg pulses to add an extra challenge for 30 more seconds. And if you're really looking to take this move to the next level, try balancing with one or both of your arms out forward or above your head. This will work your core and boost stability on the side you're standing on.

Wide 2nd Squats

wide squat illustration

To set up for the wide 2nd squat, you'll place your feet wider than hip-width distance apart, and turn your toes out. "It should not feel like you are 'forcing' your legs to turn out; you should be able to stand comfortably," Ditto explains.

Then, bend both knees while keeping your spine neutral and your shoulders aligned with your hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds. For an additional challenge, you can elevate your heels to activate your calf muscles and boost ankle stability. Get ready to feel the burn in your core, glutes, and inner thighs.

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Tabletop Leg Lifts

The tabletop leg lift begins with you getting situated on all fours and straightening one leg behind your body. Gradually bend your leg, then extend it, all while activating your core and squeezing your glute muscles. Make sure your spine remains neutral throughout the exercise. Perform this motion for 30 seconds.

For 30 seconds more, keep your leg extended, and perform small pulses upward. Get ready to feel the burn in your glutes and activate your upper body, specifically your chest and your shoulders.

"If you have knee limitations, try this movement standing over a countertop or the back of a couch, forearms folded so you are hinged at the hip to achieve the same benefits for the glutes without the added pressure on your knees," Ditto suggests.


bicycle crunches

Last but not least, it's time for some bicycles to increase your muscular endurance. Lie down, curl your shoulders up off the ground, and place both hands behind your head. Make sure your elbows are away from your face as you push them out wide. Bend one of your legs to form a 90-degree angle, and straighten the other leg so that it hovers above the ground. Then, switch legs as if you're riding a bicycle. "It should feel like your left elbow is coming toward your right knee," Ditto says.

When you're totally comfortable with the movement, speed things up, and shift your focus to the leg extension of your bottom leg to further work your core. The goal is to perform this exercise for 30 seconds, take a 10-second rest, and repeat it two more times.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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