Muscular strength is how much weight can be lifted once. It is demonstrated when you lift something very heavy. Think of getting your suitcase of the luggage belt at the airport. Muscular endurance is lifting something moderately heavy several times, or carrying it for a while. It requires muscle action and may cause fatigue, but it does not require all of your strength at once. Examples of muscular endurance include unloading groceries from your car or carrying them home on foot. Maintaining posture while seated or standing also taxes muscular endurance.
Muscular Fitness = Strength + Endurance
The combination of muscular strength and endurance results in overall muscular fitness. With adequate muscular fitness you will perform daily activity with ease and protect your body from fatigue and injury. Like cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness contributes to improved health and a lower risk of disease.
Another benefit of muscular fitness is maintaining enough muscle mass for long-term health. Muscle mass helps prevent fat mass from increasing and bone density from decreasing. Increasing fat mass can lead to obesity while the loss of bone density can lead to osteoporosis, fractures and increased fall risk in older adults. Women are at greater risk for sarcopenia, or muscle loss with aging, and have the most to gain from improving their muscular fitness at any age.
It is worth noting that men generally have greater muscle mass than women. This results in men having higher strength levels, higher metabolic rates and higher food intake levels. When compared relative to muscle mass, or pound-for-pound, men and women can achieve equal strength gains. However, due to hormonal differences, men have a much greater capacity for muscle growth.
Resistance training has been recommended along with aerobic activity for its health benefits for over 20 years. Unfortunately, participation rates in resistance training rates continue to lag behind.
Don’t be a statistic!
Programs to enhance muscular fitness can be tailored to any fitness level and any schedule. A small investment in time and effort can have a significant return on your investment.