kinetic chain training
March 29, 2012 posted by

Muscular Endurance

“What are you training?” asked ex-MLS player/now BB employee Johnny Alcaraz while watching me do 30 reps (each side) of step-up convicts last night, which reminded me that I hadn’t reported on my training in a while and should probably share this phase with the world. Muscular endurance was my answer, which I followed with some details on my particular block that’s also targeting pelvic and scapular stability. “But mainly muscular endurance.”

I’ve explained why you’d want to train muscular endurance in other articles. For a detailed explanation click on the summary below:

What 30 reps does is train your glycolytic energy system. As I said in an early post, the glycolysis is what allows a fast 100 meter sprinter to win at 400 meters. Essentially, it’s the system that uses glycogen and oxygen to recharge your body’s anaerobic system.

That article explains why women might be drawn to training muscular endurance (it ensures you can’t build bulk) but it’s also extremely helpful for almost any athlete except those in complete power sports, and even those will benefit from training this system enough to keep it efficient. Its downside is that gym sessions get long and the workouts hurt.

During 30 reps sets you can actually feel your system load change. The weight you use may seem impossibly light during the first 6-10 reps. Around 15 (or less later in the workout) you’ll start feeling it. At 20, the point where most traditional weight exercises end and about as long as your can reasonably hold your breath under duress, you’re muscles will begin to give out as you change systems. From then on it’s a fight to the finish (providing you’ve used enough weight which takes a little practice). If you do these sets correctly you’ll be dying (in my case screaming) to get your last five reps done.

This time around I’ve put a spin on the Workout From Hell format, essentially supplementing P90X2 movements. Those of you who’ve been following along know that I altered my original round of X2 when I hurt my back (getting tripped running down a mountain). It recovered quickly but I’d already designed a 3 block hangboard cycle (will be published in an article if I like it) and a supporting training that includes a three week block of muscular endurance. Here’s the workout I’m doing 3x a week. You will notice a lot of instability. Next week I transition to PAP.

Full Body 30

Functional warm-up (stability ball [SB] moves that open X2 workouts)
Plank – 30 sec
Wall Angels – 4 contractions held
Heel slide – 15 reps each side
Calf raises – heels straight, in, and out: 10 each
YT Fly on SB (see X2) – 30 reps
Darin squats – named for Shakeology’s Darin Olien (I saw he and Laird Hamilton doing these in a workout), you support yourself holding onto a bar and squat back and forth on each leg, extending the opposite leg straight (like a reverse hurdler stretch). 30
Superman (prone) pull down – lying on a bench on stomach in superman position, pull downs with a band 30
Toe Raises – Tibealis Anterior exercise, back flat on wall feet out in front raise toes 30


V-Rows – Row from the V position (legs and back raised for instability) 30
Pullovers on a stability ball – 30
Step up convicts (see X2) – 30 one side
Fingertip push-up 30
Step up convicts (see X2) – 30 other side
Bridge leg lift – 6 x 30 seconds or 3 each leg
Banana (supine) pull down – 30
Super Skaters with lateral hop – skate slow and then jump 30
Push press – 30
Side plank leg raise (see X2) – 30 seconds each side
Curls in a lunge – 30
Upright rows – 30
Front tri extension w/band in a lunge – 30
Reverse curl on one leg – 30


Neuro-integreated stretch (see X2 PAP and Plyo)

pic: extended side plank on unstable platform – note down turned toe for glute med activation.


  • Jonathan Mann Would this type of training do well alongside of marathon training?12 minutes ago · Like.Steve Edwards It would be far off from your important races. The adaptation will slow you down while it's occuring.

  • Steve, first off, love what you guys did with x2. Love that program. But where the heck can I get a p3 shirt that you and Tony sport. Would love one. Can you only get at the p3 facility. Thanks Fred.

  • How would you recommend adding in running with the P90X2 workout schedule? I am running my first 10K in July and need to start training but I don't want to give up on P90X2.

  • I am right there with you Paige N. Would like to know how to add the running back into my schedule without affecting the integrity of the program! PAP has been an amazing addition to P90x2! Love it! Thank you for constantly challanging me!

  • Sorry posted it in the previous post. 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).

  • What is a banana pull down?

  • Can we see a 1 on 1 series focused on more PAP! Can't get enough and it affects the rest of my training!

  • I'll answer most of these in a follow up post this week. Banana pull-down is done laying face down. You need to have a band parallel to the ground (these are an alt move in X2). No 1 on 1 in the works as of now, but maybe…

  • steve is there a way to email you directly?

  • That workout looks intense! I LIKE IT!!!

  • Steve, im many interviews and posts you mention trying to keep lean due to the sports / activities youre involved in (climbing..). It sounds simple, but as a large heavy (low bodyfat) male it is not easy to shed muscle mass to be leaner. I am 6' and 195lbs but would love to be in the 175 range – the problem is that it seems impossible to lose weight particularly in the legs no matter what I do. Do you have any advice? Ill run 10+ miles a few days a week for months and stay 190, ill diet and simply get weaker.. Im sure you know other large/heavy guys who would also like to buck the trend of getting more muscular and get into a lighter weight division. There is very little found in books or the internet regarding an approach to this but im sure your readers can relate (some of them)

  • You've asked in the right place? I've done this (and am almost your identical size). It requires a somewhat detailed explanation so I'll add it to the post line-up and get to it asap. In short you need to atrophy muscle in places you can afford to dump it and keep the muscle in places you need it–so obviously sports specifc as a climber and a cyclist would target the exact opposite muscles. It is hard (you need some motivation) but it's certainly doable within reason (you're never going to look like Alberto Contador but you could look like George Hincapie). I'll post the details that have worked for me soon.

  • Love your muscle endurance workout – but was wondering why you chose to do an entire body workout as opposed to a day of upper and a day of lower? I tend to like separating them better – and tried to modify yours a bit – including thinking I could do 30 squat cross reaches on each leg (did not quite make it)- in the 30 rep (is the new 20) is it ok (meaning same benefit) to let's say do 15 pike presses and quickly switch to something similar to get up to 30?

  • You'll notice I split them up in the WFH. I combined everything here because my other days are climbing specific: hangboard, shoulder stabilization and forearm work. That's the only reason.On the pike's I would not. Better to pick a movement where you can get to 30 (or close) without stopping because every second counts towards recovery as ATP is recharged even with very short rest occurs. You want a continuous load.

  • Btw, I often ammend as I go during these workouts because you adapt to 30 reps so quickly. Things I can barely do at first are often easy after a few sessions so, while I couldn't do pike's one maybe one leg squat reach for 30 at first I would be able to do them within a couple of weeks and I'll often add them. But err on the side of reps. If you fail at 15 or even 22 of 3 you're missing a lot of the benefit.

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