Exercises for Muscular Endurance Assessment

Many weightlifters are looking to improve upon specific aspects of fitness. Some of these may include strength, endurance, and speed. Each of these qualities requires different exercise programs. To select the most appropriate program, it is always a good idea to first perform an initial assessment to see exactly where you’re at. Muscular endurance, in particular, is the ability to repeatedly contract against a submaximal resistance over time. It is easily assessed through the use of several different movements–some bodyweight and some with additional resistance.


Pushups are one of the easiest methods used to test upper body muscular endurance. When performing this test, use the standard pushup–no variations. Set a specific time that the test will run–one or two minutes is ideal for this test. You can stop at any point during the duration of the test, but you must remain in pushup position–no resting on your knees. This test can be used with almost any population, as it requires only minimal technique. For an easier alternative to full pushups, perform them with your knees on the floor. If you want to make this test more difficult, raise your feet onto a bench.

Bodyweight Squats

Similar to pushups, bodyweight squats are an easy-to-perform muscular endurance test. Instead of testing upper body endurance, however, they test lower body. As with the pushup test, select a test duration–one or two minutes will do. Allow yourself to descend until you’re parallel to the floor. Perform as many reps as you can in the time period. For those who do not feel comfortable performing squats, lunges can be substituted as a replacement. Both will adequately test lower body muscular endurance.

Bench Press

When using a resistance exercise to test muscular endurance, such as the bench press, it is common to first find your one-rep maximum. To do this, simply start with a light weight on the bar– 95 pounds–and slowly work your way up. Add 10 to 20 pounds and perform single reps until you hit failure. After obtaining this number, you should select a fixed percentage–anywhere from 60 to 75 percent will do the trick. If your one-rep maximum is 300, for example, your 70 percent endurance test is 210. Load this weight on the bar and perform as many reps as you can without racking it. This endurance test is often used with football players, particularly at the NFL Combine.

About this Author

Andy Chasse’ is a certified personal trainer who’s worked in the fitness field since 2007. He now works full-time as a freelance writer specializing in fitness and nutrition. His writing has appeared on BodyBuilding.com, Brotherspeak Magazine and Edubook.com. Chasse’ is currently a student at Sam Houston State University pursuing a degree in kinesiology with a minor in business.