You Mr. Burgundy are a physical specimen.  Welcome to Who Needs a Personal Trainer Part 2. This week we are diving into endurance training or the “toning range”.  Ron Burgundy is at the extreme of the toning range but you get the point.

I’m also not talking about endurance in the sense of marathons or Ironman races. Those are outside the scope of my expertise. I’m strictly focusing on strength training endurance in this post. To illustrate my point, how many times have you tried going up a couple of flights of stairs only to be breathing heavy or have your legs burn when you reach the top? That’s muscle endurance or your lack of it.  If you ever said to yourself “I want to increase my stamina” (and I’m not referring to the bedroom) then pay attention.

Endurance training might seem like a waste of time when you are using light weights for high reps (12-15 reps), but the benefits will be apparent later on when you jump into the hypertrophy (6-12 rep range). The main purpose of endurance training is to increase your capacity of work. Coupling endurance training and cardio is a good way to ensure future success of the periodization program. Endurance is the foundation of good strength training. You won’t be able to complete the last few reps of a set if you can’t efficiently bring oxygen and blood to and from your muscles. You’ll burn out quickly and it will slow your gainz. And remember we are all about them gainz.

Do I have to get short shorts?


Thankfully no. Short shorts will not increase muscular endurance.

How much WEight Should I Be lifting?

What will increase muscular endurance is lifting a lightweight, about 65-75% of your 1RM, for 12-15 reps with 30-60 sec rest periods between sets. Remember, we are trying to build your ability to move blood and oxygen to and from your muscles, so we are moving quickly to make the body adapt. Endurance workouts have high volume so aim for 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps per exercise.

multijoint or single joint exercises?

Both. You won’t hit any personal records doing 12-15 reps but the benefit of doing a multijoint exercise in the beginning of a periodization program will have lasting benefits. Doing 12-15 reps of doing a flat bench press will not only increase the capacity of your chest, it will also increase your triceps, shoulders and back among other smaller muscles. For single joint exercises it would be a good idea to focus on the triceps and biceps. I know tough task asking someone to focus on arms. The arms are used in every upper body exercises so you don’t want them to tire out before your chest or back.

The key is to keep the rest periods between sets as short as possible, like 30-60 sec. Don’t try to move the weights super fast when performing the sets either. I struggle mightily with this. I think I have to get through 15 reps, let me plow through these as fast as I can. This will only tire you out faster and increase the risk of injury. Slow, controlled movements.  Aim for a 2-0-2 tempo. 2 seconds to lift the weight, and 2 seconds to lower the weight.

Do I have to run a lot?

Short answer is no. I’m personally not a fan of running unless I’m playing sports. Running long distances makes me die a little on the inside. I am a minimalist when it comes to running, I take the least effective dose that will help me achieve the level I want. Doing interval training, 30 sec running, 30 sec walking and alternating for 10 min, is all you need. We aren’t training for a marathon so long distance running will only suck energy from you that could be going to weight lifting or doing anything else really.

As an aside, running or interval training should be performed after weight lifting if your focus is to increase strength. You have a finite amount of energy and you’re wasting it on running. Can you tell I love running?

Will I become too toned?

I can see where the logic brought people to think the 12-15 rep range as the “toning range”. If hypertrophy (6-12 reps) will get you big muscles, then endurance training (12-15 reps) must give you little “sexy” muscles. What they failed to realize is that diet is more of an indicator of size than rep range is. Arnold used to train in the 12-15 rep range. And no one accused him of being small. If anything, the hypertrophy range is the toning range. This is the range that people focus on specific body parts to give the muscles their shape.

breaking up up the workout

Endurance training can be done either in full body or single body part splits. If you are beginning weight training I would advise to do at least 2 full body workouts with the hope of 3 workouts a week. This all depends on your starting condition. If you are obese or have never lifted weights before start with 2 days and work your way up. There is no shame in starting slow.   Starting slow will help your body rest and adjust to working out.

If you are more seasoned then 4-5 single body part workouts a week is a good starting point.

Incorporate multijoint movements and finish off with single joint or machine exercises. Squats, bench press and shoulder presses should come first then switch to a leg extension or calf raise. When people are tired, form suffers and people get hurt.

Sample Workout

Here is a leg workout you can incorporate to increase your muscle endurance:

Squats 4×15,15,12,12

Deadlift 3×12

Calf raises 4×15

Walking lunges 1 set for 10 min

While not complex we hit all the major muscles of the legs and finish off with an alternative to running. See I told you I don’t like running. I focus on the posterior chain (deadlifts and walking lunges) mostly because in our sedentary daily lives our hamstrings and glutes don’t get used as much as they should which makes them weak and in turn can lead to back pain.

Stay tuned for next week when we talk about the Hypertrophy Training part of Who needs a Personal Trainer?

If you missed  the previous post in the Who needs a Personal Trainer? Series here is the link:

Part 1 Periodization: Never Plateau Again!