Test for Muscular Endurance

By Paul Bright

Muscular endurance testing is something done by many athletes, particularly NFL prospects coming out of college. This type of testing shows not only how strong individuals are but also how long they can maintain a specific resistance load on their bodies or target muscle groups. Methods of testing muscular endurance include establishing your maximum load capability, using a fixed body-weight percentage, and finding your push-up or sit-up maximum.

Repetition Maximum

One form of muscle endurance testing starts with finding your one-repetition maximum, or 1-RM. A fitness specialist begins by having you lift 40 to 60 percent of your estimated maximum weight, using an exercise like the bench press, to lift weights five to 10 times. After a two-minute rest, the load gets bumped up to 60 to 80 percent and lifted three to five times. Another rest period is added, and then more weights are incrementally added. With three-to-five minute rest periods, this continues until you've lifted as much as you can at least one time. That weight becomes your benchmark for muscle endurance. The fitness specialist then develops muscle strengthening routines that include your maximum weight.

Body-Weight Percentage

Another muscle endurance test utilizes a percentage of your total body weight and applies it to exercises that target specific muscle groups. Using a fitness assessment guide written by V.H. Heyward, a bench press repetition weight is derived from 66 percent of a man's body weight. If a man weighs 200 pounds, that amounts to 132 pounds. Thus, a 132-pound bench press would be repeated as many times as possible to find the muscle endurance for the pectorals. Using the same guidance, arm curls and leg curls are calculated at 33 percent, and leg extensions are figured at 50 percent. For women, lateral pull-downs, leg extensions and bench presses are calculated at 50 percent; leg curls, 33 percent; and arm curls, 25 percent.

Push-Ups and Sit-Ups

Calisthenics-type muscle endurance tests can often be done at home with little assistance. These tests use basic exercises, such as push-ups and sit-ups. The sit-up test requires a rhythmical cadence of 50 beats per minute to measure the most sit-ups that can be performed without stopping or until the technique---keeping your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and arms about 4.75 inches from the floor---is lost. For push-ups, the chest must be lowered to the floor and raised back up, without buckling of the knees, as many times as possible without breaking technique. If you can't do eight push-ups, use the modified version with your knees on the floor.

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