Building muscle is an extremely versatile topic, that much we know. There’s so much to it that it feels almost impossible to know it all. What makes things even more difficult to get to grips with muscle mass is how it behaves differently and how you should be making the most of it. That’s where it becomes a good idea to learn about the differences between muscular strength vs muscular endurance and how they can both help you out.

Let’s break it down:


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Muscle Strength

Woman preparing her barbell weight

This one is definitely the most sought-after of the two. Muscle strength is the classic ‘how much you can lift’. So, for example, if you’re doing standard sets of 5x5 or even 4x10, you’re likely making the most of this one. It’s the amount of weight that your muscles can manage over a short duration, and in a nutshell, that’s it.

To build it up, do it more often. Essentially, that’s all there is to it. As you do it more, you encourage muscle hypertrophy, making your body grow to be better at it next time. As you lift heavier weights, your muscle strength should increase (as well as size).

Endurance

woman doing dumbbell rows

Your muscular endurance is basically the reverse of this. Instead of the strength you have in performing a big lift; it’s how long or how many times you can successfully do it. This is where a lot of lighter weight training comes into play. Muscle endurance is vital for day to day activities, and it’s great for calorie burning and cardio benefits, too, while still improving your muscle mass. It’s not one to write off.

As well as lifting lighter weights, muscle endurance is also boosted by performing bodyweight exercises as well. So even if lifting heavy is what you love doing, try working out with some bodyweight exercises from home every once in a while to keep things improving. It really does help in real-world activities.

Both Help Size

Ultimately, what’s most important when looking at muscle is that improving both helps improve your muscle mass as a whole. Your muscles are still tearing and rebuilding to help you reach your strength goals in the long run. Muscular endurance builds through repetition and overall time under tension vs muscular strength, which builds through the sheer stress per lift. Use the two together to get the best results.

If you’re struggling for ideas, mixing up, your set styles can be a great way to go about it, with things like German volume training helping give you that extra push. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Check out our handy guide on whether you should lift light or heavy here, or go a step further and take a look at the fundamentals of building muscle here for a wider look at things.

For a little more info on strength and flexibility, check out this NHS link too.


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