Why muscular endurance is important if you want to burn more fat

27 April 2023 dot 4-minute read
Healthy Body Fitness and exercise Live Well Listicle Muscular endurance
High muscular endurance allows you to be engaged in physical activity for a more extended period. (Credit: Getty Images)
Muscular endurance is a top priority if you're looking to burn fat and improve your overall health. To build it, your muscles should repeatedly contract in a similar pattern. This includes performing repetitions of a single exercise, like push-ups, for a long time without collapsing in exhaustion.
Endurance benefits not only performance in sports and exercise, but it can also lead to significant calorie expenditure. This can help with fat loss, better heart health and improved blood pressure.

How does muscular endurance help burn fat

When trainers talk about burning fat, they refer to oxidative metabolism or fatty acid oxidation. This chemical process uses oxygen to make energy from carbohydrates, amino acids and fats. When the stored form of glucose (glycogen) is depleted, the body uses stored fat for fuel.
However, fat oxidation is a slow process. Energy usage increases during low to moderate intensities then decreases when the intensity becomes high. Therefore, sustaining an intense physical activity for a long period is required to maximise fat loss.
Apart from intensity and duration, one's choice of exercise can also affect fat oxidation. Research has shown that running and endurance training can increase the amount of fat burned.
In addition, research in Scientific Reports shows endurance-strength training also enhances metabolic function, which leads to improved lipid profile, glucose, insulin levels and blood pressure. Better blood sugar control can help the body burn stored fat for energy.

How to improve muscular endurance

A person with healthy muscle endurance can do more squat repetitions in a minute than someone with the same strength but lower endurance. (Credit: Getty Images)
Triathletes need muscular endurance to swim, bike and run long distances. The same can be said when you're gardening or doing household chores. Endurance helps the muscles accomplish these activities and push their limit longer with the same energy.
The following strategies help boost muscular endurance for people who describe their lifestyle as sedentary.

1. Perform a full-body workout

Fitness for beginners focuses on simple compound movements, such as squats, burpees and planks. National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified fitness trainer Michael Tzur recommends using machines for full-body exercises to provide support, stability and balance at the beginning of your practice.
To build muscular endurance, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) advises following standard exercise order or circuit training as one's exercise program. For older adults, ideal endurance-building activities include brisk walking, biking, dancing and climbing stairs.

2. Start workouts twice a week

For beginners, Tzur advises this range to give the body ample time to recover. "If you need more than three days to recover, then, the intensity may be too hard." Perform your training thrice a week after a month or two, and then push to make it every other day.
World Health Organization recommends at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) throughout the week. Then add muscle-strengthening exercises twice weekly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Combine high repetitions with short rest periods

The rest period is an essential component of successful training. National Strength and Conditioning Association describes the following routine as low to moderate intensity, suitable for fitness novices.
  • Training duration: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Sets per exercise: 1-3
  • Reps per set: 10 to 15
  • Rest between sets: Less than or equal to 30 seconds
Sleep and proper recovery time between workouts is essential. You may want to rest for at least 48 hours before targeting the same muscle group.

Eating habits during workouts

Burning more calories than you eat (calorie deficit) is vital in weight management programme. Tzur, who has over 10 years of experience designing nutrition and fitness programs, emphasises paying attention to eating habits, especially post-workout. "I've seen many people gain weight while training because they think they can eat anything after a one-hour workout."
He recommends picking a cardio exercise that helps you manage hunger pangs better. "See how your body responds after doing an exercise, like a high-intensity interval training, Stairmaster or jumping rope. It's going to be a trial and error to pick one that doesn't make you hungry."
Aerobic exercise, which builds muscular and cardiovascular endurance, can be an effective approach to weight loss. Along with strength training and a healthy diet, you can burn more calories and help speed up metabolism even at rest.

Benefits of endurance training

Effective weight management requires proper nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management. (Credit: Getty Images)
Muscular endurance training benefits individuals who engage in activities like running, cycling or swimming. It improves the ability of the muscles to perform as the muscles, bones, and joints learn to sustain a vigorous pace for long periods.
You're less likely to injure yourself when your muscles can perform tasks efficiently. Muscular fatigue is a significant factor in muscle strain-related accidents and bone fractures. In addition, endurance training is a great way to recover from an injury and maintain your fitness levels.
However, to improve your fitness level, be mindful that you must perform all four exercise types: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. According to the National Institute on Aging, these work together to improve mental and physical health, including preventing many diseases in older adults.
As you raise the intensity to improve muscular endurance, seeing your body's progress will motivate you to push yourself further. However, remember to pace yourself and rest well because injuries can be taxing financially and emotionally. Protect your health with accident insurance, so you can restart your fitness journey brimming with confidence about your body's power.
The effect of one night of sleep deprivation on your overall wellbeing is significant. In this episode of AIA Voices, sleep and mental health experts Olivia Arezzolo, Kate Yan and Asher Low explain what happens when we get less than adequate sleep.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
National Strength and Conditioning Association. 2015. Foundation of Fitness Programming. [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023
National Institute on Aging. 2021. Foundation of Fitness Programming [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
Nutrients. 2004. Optimizing fat oxidation through exercise and diet [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010. Interaction among Skeletal Muscle Metabolic Energy Systems during Intense Exercise. [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
Frontiers in Physiology. 2018. Contextualising Maximal Fat Oxidation During Exercise: Determinants and Normative Values. [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019. Training and Evaluation of Human Cardiorespiratory Endurance Based on a Fuzzy Algorithm. [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2018. Understanding the factors that effect maximal fat oxidation [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
Consortium for Health and Military Performance (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences). 2021. How your body burns fat and carbs during exercise [online] [Accessed on 9 March 2023]
NIH, National Library of Medicine. 2014. Norms for an isometric muscle endurance test. [online] [Accessed on 6 July 2022]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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