April 5, 2012 posted by

Muscular Endurance, Part 2

Last week’s post on training muscular endurance generated some questions requiring further explanation. Let’s do a little q and a.

Jonathan Mann asks, “Would this work well alongside marathon training?”

Yes, depending…(remember this answer). All athletes benefit from training muscular endurance and, in fact, it also will help those who are just trying to change their body composition. The more efficient the systems in your body work the easier it is to target the one you need to make the biggest physiological changes. This is true whether your goal is to run a marathon fast, a quick 100 meters, or to look better in a bathing suit.

The variation lies in how much time you spend training it. A 100 meter athlete will very little of their time on muscular endurance but will still address it*. A marathoner, being an ‘endurance athlete’, would appear have more direct need to train this system but this mainly gets covered in your sports specific training so, while you’ll still want to spend a phase training muscular endurance you will be best served by periodizing your training to cover all the bases: endurance, strength, and power.

Also, as I said in my short answer to his question, you’d want to do this training away from the time you’re trying to run fast. When body composition training is occurring it always takes a toll on your performance, which is why most hard training is done during the off-season.

Off topic, but on a similar theme, there were a couple of questions on mixing running with P90X2. The answer is it depends but the above paragraph spells it out further. You can run during X2 just fine but you’ll want to do mainly base work (aerobic and/or drills). If you wanted to do X2 during the last prep phases before a race (and you care how fast you run) I would severely abridge the program. Search “P90X running steve edwards” and you’ll find an article or two I wrote on how you might do this.

Finally, Bobby from Norco writes, I was curious when you would put this into a cycle and when you would see the relative benefits (also how long they would last so you could see performance gains including this glycolytic boost)?

Of course, this depends. I like to put muscular endurance training early in a cycle in general because it will make the processes your train later more efficient. There are arguments for placing it elsewhere, all based around your ultimate goals, personal weaknesses, and how much time you have to cycle your training. It’s easier to increase endurance parameters than power parameters so if absolute strength is what you want to increase most you may begin with training that, whether you are a power or endurance athlete. The only answer here that doesn’t depend is that you get the best results targeting one system at a time. This is why if time is no issue (rarely the case) systematic training is a better option than trying to improve all of your physiological processes at once.

The same answer applies to how long the results with last, which is based on what you do. If you stop training your results won’t last very long and the same is true if you over train. If you train perfectly you’ll basically never lose your results but if that were possible this entire game we’re playing and, in fact, probably even sports would cease to exist. As a general rule I like to do at least one cycle (3 to 6 weeks) of muscular endurance per year in the gym (how much sports specific muscular endurance training I do, well, depends…).

*Power athletes should all read Speed Trap, a book written by Charlie Francis, former world record 100 meter runner Ben Johnson’s coach

pic: don’t confuse muscular endurance with endurance training. too much endurance training takes away from power and vice-versa, but efficient muscle cell function gained by training allows you to better target goals in either realm, power or endurance.


  • Great to see Bobby from Norco is still inquisitive as ever.

  • hey steve,I was wondering if you might be able to help me out. I'm just finishing asylum after having done X2. I'm going treeplanting during may and june, and won't be able to train, so I will only have july and august to get into shape for varsity basketball tryouts. I was wondering if you could throw together an awesome X2/asylum hybrid schedule that would get me in tip-top shape for basketball tryouts that take place around the 1st of september. Any words of wisdom would mean the world to me. Cheers

  • Steve – Great info and great blog. I'm wondering which program or hybrid you recommend for stripping off the last bit of body fat before moving to a mass-building routine? I have P90X, P90X2, Insanity and The Asylum. I'm currently at 8% body fat but want to drop another 2% before bulking.Tks,Rob

  • Anon,WOuld you ask me this on the Message Boards, under Fitness in Info and Education? Then I can ask you a few questions and give you a detailed answer. Most likely I won't recommend a hybrid in this case. I'd start with a short block of Phase II X2, followed by three weeks of full on phase 3 X2. Then integrate this with Asylum for a couple of weeks and then recover until practice starts. This will have you very ready.

  • Rob, Ditto on the Boards. In general I"m not sure I'd recommend stripping off the last fat prior to mass as I think it will slow down your hypertrophy. If you want to get big you're better off starting with some reserves (fat are reserves that can serve you well). Being ripped looks good on camera but is not the idea performance state from most things.

  • Hey steve,I posted in the boards in a post called training hybrid. Cheers

  • Hey SteveCan you give some info on when you should stop an off season training program before your sports season starts?

  • There is no rule on that. In a perfect world you'd make all of your body composition changes and integrate them (two full training phases) prior to the start of the season but there are many possible variations. For example, track and field athletes and cyclists both train through some races in order to peak at others. In a skill sport it depends on many things. For example, if you might not make the team you'd better peak on day one of practice but if you're Kevin Garnett you may opt to sacrifice some mid-season form so you can peak in the playoffs. The only two things that don't go together is peak training intensity and peak performance. You can't do both at the same time.

  • So, if one were to be starting in a football league in July, would they be wise to continure with PAP training all throught he season?

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