Muscular strength is the maximum potential force a muscle or muscle group can generate at one time, whereas muscular endurance is the capacity to sustain repeated muscle actions, as in push-ups or climbing, for an extended period of time.  The key to building your strength and endurance is all in the way you utilize your work outs.

You can’t just focus on cardiovascular training such as running, biking, the stair master, or the elliptical.  On the other hand, just lifting weights is not going to make the cut either, especially if you are only lifting upper body and ignoring the other half. You need to be a well conditioned athlete from head to toe. You must condition your body through proper exercise.

Exercise can be defined as a physical activity that is planned, structured, and repetitive for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body.  How do you properly exercise?

There are 6 variables to exercise:  exercise selection, frequency, load, intensity, duration, and volume.

Exercise selection refers to cardiovascular or resistance training (weight training).  What type of exercises should you perform?  For example, free weights (barbell or dumbbell) or machines, sit ups or crunches, run or bike, etc.

Frequency is how often you exercise.  The more frequent you exercise, the less time you are allowing your body to rest and recover. More is better right? WRONG!  Compare gym attendance from January 1st to April 1st.  People come in pumped up with their New Year’s resolution and start over-training.  Trying to maintain the momentum of obsessive training is unrealistic and impossible. Come April 1st, motivation has peaked, injuries occur, and frustration sets in.  The key to a long term fitness regimen is proper rest and recovery for your muscles!

Load is described as the amount of weight or resistance applied. If you are performing the bench press, load would refer to adding two 45lb plates to a bar.  The key here is to apply the proper mechanics while you’re performing the exercise to avoid injury and to make sure that you are targeting the correct muscles. Just because an individual loads 300 lbs on the bar does not mean they can properly perform the exercise to benefit them. It simply is not impressive nor makes sense. Performing pull ups or push-ups and jogging is an example of moving a fixed load, your own body weight.

Intensity refers to how much energy you are exerting during an exercise. Which is more effective, squatting 300 lbs 9 times or 135lbs 25 times?  Answer; it all depends on your goals.  Wearing a heart rate monitor during your workout and training within 70 to 85 percent of your max heart rate will help you to train within a safe cardiovascular zone. Progression is the key. You will need to continually increase or vary the stress applied to your body so that in return, you will progress.

Duration is how much time you are spending exercising. I am referring to the time when you start exercising to when you stop. It’s about quality, not quantity. Higher intensity and shorter duration will help you to become more prepared to progress to the next level.

Volume is the product of frequency, duration and load.  It’s a measure of how much exercise you are doing per unit of time.

Your success depends on how well and hard you train.