T Nation

Endurance and Strength Training


I know enough about weightlifting (with the help of this site mainly) and have been training on and off for many years now. Anyway the weights isn't the problem.

I wish to develop my muscular endurance as well while maintaining my bulk and strength. You see currently I can bench, dead and squat decent weights but I burn out in endurance. I can't do much more then 10 chin-ups for example and that bugs me a lot when little weeds can do 50 or more (admittedly they can't bench to save themselves hehe).

Anyway, is something like bodyweight exercises done for high reps (50 maybe?) the way to go or are there better ways to train muscular endurance? Also what kind of set and rep ranges are to be used? How would I tie it in with my current powerlifting and strength training (3-4 days a week) and would it be a risk of overtraining?

I really need some pointers with this as I have not really done specific muscular endurance training before. Thanks so much for any help you can throw my way.


There are a million ways to go about working on your endurance but here a few quick things that might help.

Do back-down sets. What I mean by this is do your usual routine and then take a weight significantly lighter than your last and rep it out, not necessarily until failure but bang it out, shoot for 10-20 reps or so as a guideline. I would guess you can do this every other week without much problem.

Try exercises that are similar to the ones you want to get good at (push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc) but make them harder. Pull-ups particularly need to be done often, like once a week, to get good at them. Do weighted pull-ups and dips, decline sit-ups with weights, and for push-ups try putting your feet on the physioball. If you can bench 1.5 x bodyweight you should be able to have pretty good endurance, 50+ push-ups should be easy. I don't know how heavy you are but shot for 20 pull-ups and double that number for dips. Like anything practice makes perfect, but I found once I had good technique on those "easy" exercises my regular strength training, with a focus on powerlifting, maintained or improved my single set endurance ability.

Also if you VO2 max sucks (<40) you should definitely try to get that in the 50ish range or it might be limiting you on the longer sets.

Hope that stuff helps, good luck with it.


Since I only have 20 mins to workout tight now I do 100 jumping jacks and 50 bodyweight squats between my lifts.Little hard at first,but I'm not near as tired.

Btw,if you have gained weight since trying your pull-ups then they are going to be harder.When I was 160,i could do 15 in a row,I'm lucky if I get 4 now


Thanks for the info so far. I'll try be a bit more specific now so you can target help more. Lets say I want great muscular endurance in my legs, is 200 bodyweight squats considered good? Also how often could I do this in a week without burning out my legs for the powerlifting training? Same idea applies to chin-ups, pushups, situps, dips etc. What kind of numbers would be considered good/great endurance? 50-200 depending on the exercise? I want high bodyweight repetition for boxing, wrestling and rock-climing that I do. My cardio doesn't seem to be a problem though, my mucles just burn out but I'm not puffed. I don't want to hurt my powerlifting and max strength work.


Bump. Seems these don't get answered if they drop off page 1. Please read above post thanks.


[quote]Dooshy wrote:
I wish to develop my muscular endurance as well while maintaining my bulk and strength. ...but I burn out in endurance. I can't do much more then 10 chin-ups for example .....

Anyway, is something like bodyweight exercises done for high reps (50 maybe?)....quote]

If your desire is the amount of time you can sustain effort with bodyweight exercises, there are no better means of improving that effort. If you can't chin the amount of reps you feel is necessary, then you are either too fat or too weak.

There are a ton of people that will argue, but if you want to be able to move your own bodyweight longer at the intensity level you want to, practice it. Chins, dips, bodyweight rows, push ups, hanging leg raises, one legged squats, single legged straight leg deads, king deads, lunges with perfect form, reverse lunges with perfect form...

Cosgrove is a respected trainer. He doesn't allow people to use additional resistance until they can adequately handle their own bodyweight.


If you can do 200 bodyweight squats in a row,my hats off to you.

50 is a good starting number for:push-ups,squats,jumping jacks,sit-ups/leg raises

20 is good for:chins,dips,and any one legged exercise

fyi 50 and 20 in a row,not do "x" amount of sets to get them,50 in a row,and 20 in a row


Thanks for the numbers there jmwintenn. I was thinking in a row also not broken into sets.

Now how would I go about intergrating those with my powerlifting? Would bodyweight come before or after? Or on a seperate day completely (I powerlift 3 days a week)? Also how often per week could you train bodyweight exercises without burning out or wasting time doing more then necessary?

I'm a bit of a lazy trainer, or maybe smart, I will do what I need but I don't like training extra if it doesn't really add benefit. For example: If I train 3 times a week and consistantly improve I'm not going to bother training 5 days a week.


i just throw mine between exercises.Example:ill do my chest and bi's,then ill do 100 jumping jacks,do abs and tri's,50 bodyweight squats,work my back and im out.I also use my punching bag for 30 mins a few times a week


So how many days do you do them each week? Daily or 3 times week or what? I have always assumed bodyweight training could be done most days with added benefit since it was light weight. But if 3 days a week will advance me just as well as daily I'd rather do that. Less is best so long as you are getting max results. What do you say/think?

Like am I going to improve more rapidly doing daily or every second day or 3 times a week or what? I would go 1 set close to almost failing on last rep. Then when possible add another rep until I reached my goal numbers.


Uh,I'm not training every other day like I want to right now,so whenever I go on break at work(if I'm not tired)I'll go train and do them.I would think just doing them when you workout would be fine.I also do push-ups with my feet and arms on a bench to warm-up.If you can't do the 50/20 at first just stop when you start to wobble or think you won't be able to get your other stuff done.I have to stop early sometimes to finish my workout and still be able to work.