Turn your back for five minutes and they’re off! You’re a parent now…. so never mind the Joneses, it’s the kids you need to keep up with, and if you want to keep going and going with boundless energy just like them, you’ll need to build your muscular endurance thresholds!
What is Muscular Endurance?
Muscular endurance refers to your ability to perform repeated or sustained muscle contractions over an extended period of time. This can include relatively low levels of resistance such as walking, running or even a fun activity, like pushing your child on a swing (or riding a pushbike alongside them, or hanging out a bottomless basket of washing on the clothesline).
You know what it’s like! More, more, more…. you’ll hear them squeal, as they giggle through the air on that swing…. but if you’re starting to feel your muscles burn after only a few energetic pushes though, or your arms are really starting to become fatigued after just a few minutes, then you may need to consider establishing a higher level of muscular endurance.
Why is Muscular Endurance Important?
Because your muscles are working all day long, they need to be able support varying levels of resistance (including your own body weight) for an extended length of time. Add to that, the extended periods of time that you may also be nursing or carrying a newborn or toddler around, and you can understand why muscular endurance becomes so important
By improving your muscular endurance, daily activities will become easier to contend with. Your stamina will improve and you’ll become less fatigued. Think about all of those laps around the block you can ride with the kids…. or all of those toys you can pick up off the floor so you can vacuum…. or all of those loads of washing you can bend over and hang up on the clothes line!! From my own experience, LIFE just becomes so much easier, when you have good levels of muscular endurance
How Do I Improve Muscular Endurance?
If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, now is the perfect time to start developing a good level of endurance….. but…. that’s not to say you can’t start at any time or at any age. I didn’t start until I was 40, (when my little boy was almost 2)…. and I’m certainly grateful that I made the decision back then to improve my fitness, (now that he’s 7)!!
One of the main principles that underpin the development of muscular endurance is ‘progressive overload’. It’s about being consistent, being patient and allowing your muscles to build up over time.
The human body will not change unless it’s constantly challenged and that’s why it’s so important to avoid become complacent with your fitness and exercise. Once you fall into a comfort zone, you’ll plateau. The old saying is (unfortunately) true…. ‘Use it, or Lose it’!
It’s recommended that Australian adults should aim to do at least two resistance programs each week. Start out slowly though! It might even just be a matter of slightly adjusting or adapting your existing daily movements into a form that is a little more ‘exercise-like’ in its technique rather than just allowing your body to move in its ‘default’ form.
- When you’re bending down to pick something up from the floor, or if you need to find something way down at the back of one of your kitchen cupboards, make a conscious effort to perform a bodyweight squat.
- Every time you’re waiting for the jug to boil to make a cuppa, do some push-ups against the kitchen bench.
- When you’re taking ironed clothes back to their respective rooms, lunge (rather than walk) down the hallway and back.
- Before putting all your grocery shopping bags on the kitchen bench or floor, do a few bicep curls.
- If you’re chasing an odd sock or toy from underneath a bed, stay down and ‘plank’ for as long as possible.
- Every time you push back in your chair from the dining room table (or office desk), do a few triceps dips.
- Perform a few lateral torso flexions (side to side bends), while you’re brushing your teeth.
- As you lift your child for a hug or if you’re reaching up to put something onto a high shelf, push out a few overhead shoulder presses while you’re at it.
When you first start out, take notice of how many repetitions you can perform before your muscles really start to burn or feel like ‘jelly’. After a while, your body will become accustomed to the challenge and that same number of repetitions will begin to feel so much easier! But don’t stop there!!
Once you’ve reached a point where 15 or so repetitions becomes relatively ‘easy’, it’s time to push your boundaries, step outside your comfort zone, and ‘progressively overload’ by adding some extra resistance (weight), or by increasing your level of intensity. To increase your level of intensity, perform the same number of repetitions in a shorter timeframe, or reduce the amount of rest time between each exercise.
The most important point to note is that you need to consider the ‘what’s next’…. what’s your next step to challenge and improve your endurance? You might be surprised to learn, that this ‘future focused and improvement driven’ approach, can also spill into other aspects of your life too, which ultimately adds
immense value generally!!
What are the Other Benefits of Improving Muscular Endurance?
Improving yourmuscular endurance (which also compliments the progression of cardiovascular fitness), can also support your general health in the following ways:
- Keeping your heart healthy,
- Supporting weight loss,
- Preventing age related neurological degeneration,
- Improving mood and sleep quality,
- Leading to a longer, higher quality life.
Because endurance activities typically involve little or low resistance/weight (but with higher repetitions), kids can also get involved withyour workouts. In addition to establishing the foundation for a longer and healthier life, you’re also able to role model positive exercises behaviours, and connect with them as you’re working out together!That kind out outcome is so much more valuable than keeping up with the Joneses, wouldn’t you agree?
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