by Dr. Dillon Cuppusamy DC
Muscular strength is the amount of power you can exert with a single effort. Muscular endurance is the amount of times your muscles can repeat an activity before getting tired. Another way to say it is that muscular strength impacts the amount of weight you can bench press, and muscular endurance determines how many times you can bench press that weight before your muscles start feeling tired.
You develop muscular strength and endurance by performing many repetitions of a strength-training activity while gradually adding to the resistance. By increasing muscular strength you reap the benefits of improved sports performance and ability to handle daily activities.
Researchers at Tufts University found that resistance training for just two days per week increased muscular strength in the study group by 75%, compared with members of the control group who lost muscular strength without strength training.
Ways in which to improve muscular strength:
Isometric contractions involve static muscle contractions where the length of your muscle does not change during the exercise. Examples of isometric exercises include holding your body in a pushup position or balancing in a squat against a wall. Isometric exercises challenge your muscles by holding and supporting your body weight against gravity without using outside force or momentum.
Weightlifting is a broad term to describe strength training with additional weight through the use of dumbbells, barbells, machines and kettlebells. Weight training benefits your muscles by using resistance to create micro-tears in your muscles. As your muscles repair and recover, they become stronger. Your weight training techniques will depend on your personal fitness goals. Train with heavier weights and perform less repetitions if you are trying to gain size. Create lean muscle mass without adding bulk by performing more repetitions with lighter weights. Regardless of your goals, to continue to make progress as you get stronger, you will have to increase intensity to avoid plateaus. To avoid injury, take adequate recovery and allow 48 hours in between working the same muscle groups.
Use the weight of your body or minimal equipment, against gravity, to provide muscle-building resistance. Calisthenics involves dynamic movement of your body weight through muscular contractions.. Examples are sit-ups, pushups and pullups. You can use resistance bands, similar to giant rubber bands, to provide muscle-strengthening resistance while performing simple calisthenics. Learn to do simple gymnastics to push your entire body weight against the force of gravity during moves such as handstands and cartwheels. Pushups, pullups, lunges and calf raises are other examples of calisthenics. Calisthenic exercises can be combined with weight training in the same workout, or perform them on their own.
Plyometrics use explosive movements to improve your strength, speed and power. Athletes such as sprinters and football players benefit from these exercises. An example of a plyometric exercise is the burpee where you squat down, jump your legs out into a plank position, jump back to your squat and return to a standing position. Other examples include jumping from the ground onto a box, or single leg hops. Exercise caution when you perform plyometrics to minimize your risk of getting injured.