Secrets of Muscular Endurance

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Some say you should be doing endless amount of bodyweight exercise to improve your endurance, others maintain endurance is best served by improving your maximum strength through max intensity strength training. The truth is that there are a variety of different viewpoints and advice because most of those giving it don’t really understand the scientific principles of muscular endurance so they don’t really know how best to improve it. This article will finally put an end to all the nonsense that’s out there on the subject and give you clear and concise understanding of what muscular endurance really is, and more importantly, I’ll be giving you two unbelievably effective training methods that are guaranteed to improve your endurance. .

Guaranteed to work

I’ve used these two methods as part of my Precision Conditioning System in the training of countless top MMA fighters and athletes of all types who need to improve their muscular endurance. If you follow them, I guarantee you’ll see the same dramatic results that I’ve seen.

First, it’s important to understand there are three types of muscular endurance because there are three different energy systems. Each of these energy systems provides the fuel for muscular work to continue and each of them has limits as to how long they can provide this fuel for.

Where these limits lie and how long these systems can produce energy for determines how long your muscles can continue working – in other words they are the key to improving muscular endurance.

A Brief Overview

Alactic Muscular Endurance (aka Knockout Power) – The alactic energy system is your most powerful system but also your most limited. The limits of the muscular power it can produce last no more than 10-12 seconds and the endurance of this system is primarily improved by increasing the amount of creatine phosphate your muscles can store and use.

Lactic Muscular Endurance (Wrestling Power) – This system is what a lot of people think of when they think muscular endurance, it’s the system responsible for that burning sensation you feel as your muscles fatigue and grind to a halt. It generally provides energy for about 60-90 seconds at the very most and people incorrectly blame a buildup of “lactic acid” as the reason why this system stops working.

Aerobic Muscular Endurance (Marathon Endurance) – Your last and most versatile energy system that provides working muscles energy is your aerobic system and it provides a majority of the energy needed for lower intensity activities that are under your anaerobic threshold.

In long distance sports like marathons and triathlons aerobic muscular endurance is what fuels your body all the way to the finish line. In MMA, it’s also what keeps your hands up at the end of a 3 or 5 minute grueling round.

The Next Step

Now that you understand there is more than one kind of muscular endurance, let’s talk about how to best train these systems to be successful in MMA. Make no mistake about it, the methods I’m about to give you are unbelievably effective at improving exactly the kind of endurance you need in MMA, and it’s unlikely you’ve ever been told about either of them before.

Instead of going in depth into the science behind these methods like I usually do, I’m going to give you a short cliff’s notes version and then get straight to business because if you follow my advice you’ll see dramatic results even if you don’t understand exactly why it works so well.

The Science: why it works

In order to improve the kind of muscular endurance you need in MMA you have to accomplish two fundamental tasks: first, you have to make your slow-twitch muscle fibers bigger and second, you have to make your fast-twitch fibers more oxidative (improve how well they use oxygen to produce energy).

Bigger slow-twitch fibers not only improve your aerobic muscular endurance, they also indirectly will improve your lactic muscular endurance because they help facilitate anaerobic metabolism to continue – even if you have no idea what this means, just know that it’s very important.

Very few programs ever really properly target making your slow-twitch fibers bigger and contrary to popular belief, slow-twitch fibers are just as strong as fast-twitch they just can’t contract as rapidly. Bigger slower-twitch fibers mean better all around endurance, plain and simple.

Improving how well you fast twitch fibers can use oxygen has obvious advantages and gives you the muscular endurance you need to be as explosive in the last round as you were in the first. Even if you don’t fight and just want to get in shape and stay lean, developing your fast-twitch fibers aerobic abilities will also increase your fat burning potential dramatically because making them more oxidative means they will burn much more fat.

This a secret fat loss trick you’ll never hear from other so called experts and there is research that obese and overweight people have very low aerobic abilities of their fast twitch fibers.

Unfortunately very few, if any, programs I’ve ever seen incorporate the methods you need to effectively improve this vitally important component of endurance as effectively as possible. Doing endless reps of various bodyweight exercises or randomly doing some strength training circuit DOES NOT accomplish what we’re looking for but these approaches are what seem to be suggested the most but neither really get the job done.

Precision Conditioning Methods Revealed

The two methods you’ve never heard of but absolutely MUST be doing if you want to improve your muscular endurance like never before are called “The Tempo Method” and the “Explosive Interval Method” and when used properly, they are hands down the most effective methods for improving the type of muscular endurance needed in the cage or ring – not to mention they’ll also help you get and stay lean.

Secret of Muscular Endurance #1: The Tempo Method

This method may look surprisingly simple and easy, but don’t let yourself be confused. When done properly, it is much more difficult than you might expect and will produce a brutal burning sensation and fatigue in the muscles being worked. There tempo method is the most effective way to stimulate growth in the slow twitch fibers, but in order to accomplish this it must be done exactly as prescribed:

– Tempo is 2 seconds concentric and 2 seconds eccentric
– You must maintain constant motion, there can be no pauses at any point
– You must not hold your breath at any point, breathing must be constant
– Sets will be 8-12 reps with no more than 40 seconds rest between them
– Each set must be to done to complete muscular failure

Start with push-ups as Jens demonstrates in the video and when you can do 4 sets of 12 following all the guidelines above you can move to an exercise with higher resistance like bench press. This may seem like it should be easy, but as soon as you give it a try you’ll see that it isn’t.

Secret of Muscular Endurance #2: The Explosive Repeat Method

Just like the Tempo Method, the Explosive Repeat Method may appear simple at first, but it is also extremely effective at accomplishing very important changes within the muscles themselves. Because the sets are short in duration the heart rate will be kept relatively low and there will be a steady supply of oxygen to the working muscles. This in turn helps increase the oxidative abilities of the fast twitch fibers that are working during the exercise. Special attention must be paid to the following points:

– Each repetition must be as explosive as possible
– There can be no pauses between reps
– Sets will range from 10-20 seconds
– Rest intervals will vary from 40-20 seconds

Again start with a bodyweight exercise like push-ups until you are able to complete the required volume with perfect technique. Most people will have trouble completing all the sets when they first begin using this method so don’t be surprised if you find yourself laying face down on the ground after a few sets.

Putting it all Together

As with any training method, the key to using these two methods with success is how you put them together in the context of a training program. Think of methods as your tools, when used properly they will build your foundation. When used improperly, they won’t be very effective at best and will do you more harm than good at worst.


  1. Hey Joel- I was looking through the archives and found this one. I was hoping you might repost the complete program somewhere, maybe with some advice for incorporating lowerbody/ upper body pulling. Would those have to be done in a different block?

    1. Yes, but I generally wouldn’t recommend a barbell exercise like that. Technique is likely to suffer, KB movements are a better choice.

      1. Joel, the ultimate MMA conditioning book refers to explosive repeat being suitable for some wrestling exercises. Which ones would you suggest would be most suitable with a BJJ application? Thanks for your time.

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