How to build muscle endurance

Improve your strength and achieve optimal muscle tone with this workout.

To maintain your muscles, aim for 20 minutes of strength-training exercises two to three times a week―with at least one day off in between workouts so your muscles have time to rest, recover, and grow.

Liz Neporent, an exercise physiologist and the president of Wellness 360, a New York City-based corporate-wellness-consulting company, suggests the following seven exercises, which work most of the major muscles in your body. Do one to three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of the exercises, resting no more than 45 seconds between sets to keep the workout challenging.

If you haven't used weights before or if you're out of shape, start with light weights (when they're called for) of two to five pounds and do fewer sets.

Exercise 1: Squat

Works: Buttocks and thighs

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, weight slightly back on your heels, hands on your hips. Pull your abdominals in, standing up tall with square shoulders and a lifted chest.
  • Sit back and down, as if there's a chair directly behind you. Lower as far as you can without leaning your upper body more than a few inches forward. Don't allow your knees to stick out past your toes.
  • Straighten your legs and stand back up. Be careful not to lock your knees at the top of the movement.

Exercise 2: One-Arm Row

Works: Upper and middle back and shoulders

  • Stand to the left of a chair, feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing in. Pull your abdominals in and bend forward from the hips so your back has a slight arch and you are roughly parallel to the floor, knees slightly bent. Put your left hand on the chair's seat for balance. Tilt your chin toward your chest so your neck is in line with the rest of your spine. Your right hand will be in front of your right shin.
  • Pull your right arm up along the side of your body until your elbow points to the ceiling and your hand brushes against your waist.
  • Slowly lower the weight back down. Complete the reps, then switch sides.

Exercise 3: Modified Push-Up

Works: Chest, abdominals, shoulders, and arms

  • Lie on your stomach, knees bent and ankles crossed. Place your palms on the floor a bit to the side and in front of your shoulders. Tuck your chin a few inches into your chest so your forehead faces the floor.
  • Straighten your arms and lift your body so you are balanced on your palms and knees, abdominals tight. Be careful not to lock your elbows.
  • Bend your elbows and lower your entire body at once. Rather than trying to touch your chest to the floor, lower just until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push back up.

Exercise 4: Shoulder Press

Works: Shoulders, arms

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and sit up tall on a chair that has firm back support. Place your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Pull your abdominals in so there is a slight gap between the small of your back and the back of the chair.
  • With palms forward, bend the elbows and raise the dumbbells up so they are level with your ears. Elbows should be at or just below shoulder height.
  • Straighten arms up over your head, without locking elbows, then slowly lower to start.

Exercise 5: Biceps Curls

Works: Biceps

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Let your arms hang down at your sides with your palms facing in. Pull your abdominals in, stand tall, and keep your knees relaxed.
  • Curl your right arm up, fist close to your shoulder, twisting your palm so that it faces the front of your shoulder at the top of the movement. Slowly lower the dumbbell back down, then repeat with your left arm. Continue alternating until you've completed the set. (One rep consists of a bicep curl with each arm.)

Exercise 6: Kick-Backs

Works: Triceps

  • Stand to the left of a chair. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, feet hip-width apart. Lean forward at the hips until your upper body is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Place your free hand on top of the chair for support. Bend your right elbow so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor, your forearm perpendicular to it, and your palm facing in. Keep your elbow close to your waist. Pull your abdominals in and don't lock your knees.
  • Keeping your upper arm still, straighten your arm behind you until the end of the dumbbell is pointing down. Slowly bend your arm to lower the weight for one rep. When you've completed the set, repeat with your left arm.

Exercise 7: Plank

Works: Abdominals, shoulders, chest, lower back, buttocks, thighs

How to build muscle endurance

Muscular endurance exercises are meant to promote a muscle’s ability to work under a certain load for an extended period of time. Most sports require an athlete to have some advanced level of muscular endurance, and it also helps to have significant endurance in day to day life.Some muscular endurance exercises can be done at home without any specialized equipment — push-ups are perhaps the most common of the endurance exercises done at home — while others should be done in a gym or fitness centers where weights and circuit training equipment is available. Circuit training, in fact, is one of the best ways to build muscular endurance because a circuit provides a variety of exercises aimed at different muscle groups.

Exercises that engage certain muscles for sustained periods of time work well as muscular endurance exercises. During a push-up, the arms, shoulders, and chest support the weight of the body throughout the course of the motion, and the weight load is accentuated by the pushing motion. Doing several push-ups at once will build endurance in the upper body, as well as in core muscles such as the lower back and the abs. One should be careful, however, not to overdo this exercise, as the muscles can be worked to exhaustion and even injury.

At the gym, muscular endurance exercises are included in circuit training machines. The basic concept behind circuit training is the grouping of several machines in the same room; the user can go from one machine to the next after finishing an exercise, and each subsequent machine works a different group of muscles. This is considered a full body workout, and the circuit can be modified to suit one’s muscular needs. While not exclusively so, circuit training machines often use a system of cables connected to a rod with adjustable weight slots built into them to provide resistance. Everything from biceps curls to bench presses, from rows to calf extensions, can be done with the various types of circuit training machines.

Free weights can also be used for muscular endurance exercises. Curls and bench presses are a great way to build upper body strength, and when the exercise is performed to muscle failure — that is, until the muscle can no longer lift the weight — it begins to build endurance. One should be careful, however, not to push beyond his or her limits, as this may lead to injury. Every endurance exercise should be preceded and followed by a stretching routine.

How to build muscle endurance

Weight training offers so many health and fitness benefits. That’s why it’s not surprising that almost every health and fitness coach recommends it. We weight train primarily to build muscle strength and to hypertrophy muscles or make them larger. Doing so helps preserve the loss of muscle tissue that’s an inevitable part of aging. Preserving muscle helps us stay functional at all stages of life. In addition, having more muscle tissue and less fat is more favorable for metabolic health as resistance training improves insulin sensitivity. But, there’s another benefit that weight training offers – it helps build muscle endurance.

How Muscle Strength and Endurance Differ

Strength training using heavy resistance increases the ability of a muscle to generate force over a short time period. For example, when you first started weight training, you may have only been able to generate enough force to curl with a 10-pound weight in each hand. But, as you kept training, curling that weight became easier and you were able to work with a 12 pound and then a 15-pound weight in each hand instead as your biceps became stronger. Strength is the ability of a muscle to generate maximum force in a single contraction. The muscle likely also increased in size to make the muscle capable of handling heavier loads.

But, there’s another characteristic of healthy muscles and that’s muscle endurance. Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to contract against a sub-maximal resistance for a longer period of time. In contrast to muscle strength where the force generated is maximal, but short in duration, muscle endurance is a muscle’s ability to lift a lighter weight many times without fatiguing.

Why is Muscle Endurance Important?

You need muscle endurance to carry out the tasks you do every day. Yes, you need to be strong to lift boxes out of your car or move furniture, but you need muscle endurance for certain tasks as well, especially if you play a variety of sports. For example, muscle endurance comes in handy if you play tennis where you’re moving your arm repetitively and if you jog or run. Certain occupations also require muscle endurance. If you’re a massage therapist, a hair stylist, or a dog groomer who shampoos dogs for a living, you will appreciate having muscle endurance. With these occupations, your muscles are in motion for a large portion of the day. Although you don’t need exceptional strength to do these tasks, your muscles have to have “staying power,” the ability to keep contracting.

Strength training calls into play fast-twitch, or type 1 muscle fibers, fibers designed to generate maximal force. Unfortunately, these muscles also fatigue quickly. In contrast, activities that require muscle endurance mainly target slow-twitch, or type 2 muscle fibers, those optimized for sustained activity. The slow-twitch fibers don’t have as much capacity to generate force, but they don’t poop-out as fast as the fast-twitch fibers do. That’s why they’re optimal for tasks that require repeated muscle contractions.

Developing Muscle Endurance

The way you train your muscles to build strength is to lift heavy weights. Because the weights are heavy, you’ll only be able to complete a limited number of reps as the fast-twitch fibers fatigue quickly. Building strength is all about the force you can generate short-term. You measure it with the one-rep max test, a test that measures the heaviest weight you can lift only one time. Some fitness trainers use a 5-rep or 10-rep max test and use a table to extrapolate one-rep max from these test. The one-rep max test is harder on the muscles and connective tissue and carries a higher risk of injury.

How do you measure muscle endurance? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the partial curl-up test for measuring endurance. You can find instructions on how to do this online, along with a chart with age and gender-specific norms. The goal is to see how many curl-ups or crunches you can complete in a set cadence without time restraints. You can also use a timed test where you do as many crunches as you can in one minute.

Another useful test for measuring muscle endurance in the upper body is the push-up test. However, there is a component of strength to doing push-ups as well. For the push-up test, you complete as many as you can before breaking form or you do as many as you can in one minute. Again, there are charts showing values by age and gender.

Improving Muscle Endurance

Training for endurance is a bit different than training for strength. For building endurance, you use a weight between 50 and 60% of your one-rep max and do a higher number of reps. Using this weight, you should be able to complete between 15 and 20 reps before your muscles are thoroughly fatigued. You’re training your muscles to go a little longer than they’re accustomed to. You also build muscle endurance by doing other exercises that involve repetitive muscle contractions such as running, riding a bike, or swimming. These activities primarily build endurance in your lower body.

Some bodyweight exercises can also help you build muscle endurance. Push-ups, bodyweight squats, planks, and calf raises are good examples. The key is to do them to the point of complete fatigue. Over time, you’ll be able to complete more reps using the same resistance and you’ll have greater muscle endurance.

The Bottom Line

Building strength is important but having more muscle endurance will serve you well too, especially if you run, cycle, or play sports that require your muscles to work at a sub-maximal load for long periods of time. One way to work strength, power, and endurance is to periodize your workouts so that you’re working each component during different cycles. Doing this adds variety to your training and reduces the risk of injury. So, don’t be so focused on building strength that you neglect muscle endurance. It’s what gives your muscles staying power!

References:

American College of Sports Medicine. “Getting a Professional Fitness Assessment”

November 05, 2020

How to build muscle endurance

Endurance matters in more than just the bedroom. No matter how you look at it, exercise is based on repetition. In the gym you do 5 sets of 5, on a treadmill you repetitively move your legs, and on the tennis court or playing field you repeat similar movements. When learning how to build muscle endurance it ultimately comes down to repetition.

Why build muscle endurance

The first thing on your to-do list is to know exactly why you want to build muscle endurance. If you have no reason, you’ll have no motivation. Before we get to muscle endurance, so what’s endurance all about.

Endurance is the ability to maintain a challenging situation or process placed on the body over an extended period of time. Sometimes this is unpleasant and other times it’s not. Be aware that this is the scientific definition.

When it comes to exercise, activities like walking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming require endurance. As you can see, some of them are a lot more challenging than others. Walking, for example, is on the easier end of the spectrum while running is not.

Now apply this to muscle endurance. In this case, it would be the ability to perform multiple contractions (reps) over the course of time. This is usually done with little to no resistance. A lot of team and individual sports require muscle endurance, such as tennis, basketball, swimming, and rowing, to name a few.

And running requires both endurance and muscle endurance, since your leg muscles are still working for an extended period of time.

1 – Do the right exercises to build your endurance

Now that you know exactly what muscle endurance is, you have to learn how to train for it. In reality, it’s actually pretty easy. Instead of doing uber-heavy weights with low reps, you have to think in terms of sport-specific training. What happens in a tennis match? You end up swinging a racket at a high velocity thousands of times over.

The same could be said for boxing. You throw punch after punch after punch. Doing heavy bench presses isn’t going to get you very far in these situations. You need to train specifically for the demands of the sport.

Focus on working the muscles involved with the sport or activity you are taking part in and do light weights and high reps. Let’s take basketball, for example. The game involves a lot of shooting where you do elbow extensions.

It makes sense that you would want strong triceps so that you can do this motion with grace and ease throughout the whole game. Good exercises to do would be dips, push-ups, and triceps kickbacks.

Just a quick side note: You would benefit from running to train for any sport that involves running.

2 – Perform the right number of reps

How to build muscle endurance

Remember that sports involve a lot of continuous reps spaced over a long period of time. You want to make sure that you are able to meet these demands, so your training should emulate this. A good range to aim for is 15 to 25 reps with each exercise, and do multiple sets. Somewhere in the range of 5 to 10 is a good option.

You can also train for time instead of reps. For example, if you are doing mountain climbers, look at a clock and go for 30, 45, or 60 seconds. Then take a rest and repeat. Or do a different exercise like medicine ball slams and then come back to mountain climbers.

3 – Increase the resistance

Once you become proficient at doing exercises with light or no load, feel free to increase your resistance over time. In fact, this will help you perform even better in a sport when you have no load.

For example, if you do push-ups with a weighted vest and keep increasing the weight over time, you will find push-ups much easier without the vest on. The same would hold true if you wore it to run with in training. Then in your next soccer game, you’ll feel lighter and be able to move faster.

Conclusion

Knowing how to build muscle endurance could be the trick you need to literally change your game. Start integrating this type of training into your program right now and you will instantly see a difference the next time you play a sport!

If you’re interested in building muscle whilst also improving your endurance then our muscle building guide is where you want to be. Take a look for all of our advice on bulking up.

Erin Pereira, PT, DPT, is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy.

thelinke / E+ / Getty Images

Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to sustain repeated contractions against a resistance for an extended period of time. The greater your muscular endurance, the more reps you can do of a certain exercise. It is just one of the components of muscular fitness, along with muscular strength, flexibility, and power.

Types of Muscular Endurance

In strength training, muscular endurance refers to the number of repetitions of a single exercise you can do without needing to stop and rest. Examples include how many times you can do a full squat, a sit-up, or a biceps curl with a light-to-moderate weight before breaking form.

Muscular endurance is muscle-specific. In other words, you may have more endurance with squats than biceps curls. It all depends on which muscles you train.

The type of muscular endurance used during cardiovascular fitness activities such as running, swimming, or cycling is usually called cardiovascular endurance or cardiorespiratory endurance and is different from the strength training definition.

Endurance training for these types of physical activities builds the energy systems of the body, the muscle fibers, and capillaries that can sustain long periods of exercise, such as running a marathon or cycling a 100-miler.

Why Muscular Endurance Matters

Muscular endurance is important in everyday activities, such as climbing three flights of stairs to get to the floor where you work or carrying a heavy bag of groceries from the car to the house. In sports, muscular endurance helps you better compete.

Some studies have found that muscular endurance training can improve sports performance. A 2017 study in Frontiers in Physiology noted that cross-country skiers who did this type of training had better double poling performance.

Research has also found that, when combined with standard resistance training (lifting weights to build muscle), muscular endurance training helps improve blood sugar and insulin levels for people with type 2 diabetes. It can also reduce injury risk.

How to Measure Muscular Endurance

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends testing your muscular endurance when starting a strength training program. This helps you know where you began, while also making it easier to track your progress along the way.

The push-up test is often used to measure upper body muscular endurance. To do this test, do as many push-ups as you can before you break form. This may also be a timed test to see how many you can perform in a minute.

Once you have your number, you can compare how your performance matches up with others in your age and sex category. By tracking this number over time, you can see increases or decreases in your upper body muscular endurance.

You can do muscular endurance testing on your own or, if you’re working with a trainer, they may use this type of test to set the right intensity and loads for your exercises. Even the U.S. Army uses push-up tests to assess the muscular endurance of its recruits.

How to Improve Muscular Endurance

An effective muscular endurance training program uses lighter weights while doing a higher number of reps. Research has shown that this approach appears to be the most effective for improving local and high-intensity (or strength) endurance.  

The principles below can be applied to a novice, intermediate, or advanced muscle endurance training workout. They are based on the American College of Sports Medicine’s position on weight training and resistance training.  

Choosing Muscular Endurance Exercises

The exercises you choose should work large muscle groups (such as the legs or back) or multiple muscle groups (such as the upper body and core). Add variety by including exercises that target one or two limbs or one or two joints.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends doing exercises such as squats, bench presses, cable rows, and lunges to help build your muscular endurance.

Loading and Volume

Load refers to the amount of weight or resistance you use (a 10-pound dumbbell or setting the leg press machine to 110 pounds, for instance). Volume is the number of times you do the exercise or the total number of repetitions.

Ideally, you want to choose a load (weight) that is less than half of the maximum weight you can push, pull, or lift one time. This is considered a light to moderate intensity load.

If you are a novice or intermediate exerciser, aim to perform 10 to 15 repetitions for one or two sets. If you are an advanced exerciser, plan to do a little bit more, or anywhere from 10 to 25 repetitions per set.

Rest Periods

Short rest periods should be used for muscle endurance training. Rest one to two minutes for high-repetition sets (15 to 20 repetitions or more) and less than one minute for moderate (10 to 15 repetitions) sets.

Circuit training is good for building local muscular endurance and the rest periods during this type of exercise should only fill the time it takes to move from one exercise station to another.

Frequency

Frequency refers to how often you should do a workout that focuses on building your muscular endurance. This frequency is similar to that for building larger muscles. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) suggests:

  • Novice training: Do 2 to 3 days each week when training the entire body.
  • Intermediate training: Do 3 days per week for total-body workouts or 4 days per week if using split routines for upper and lower body workouts.
  • Advanced training: Use a higher frequency of 4 to 6 days per week if the workouts are split by muscle group.

Repetition Velocity

Repetition velocity refers to how slow or fast you contract your muscles during specific exercises. Different speeds of contraction can be used based on the number of repetitions.

  • Intentionally slow velocities: Use when performing a moderate number of repetitions (10 to 15).
  • Moderate to fast velocities: These are more effective when you train with a larger number of repetitions, such as 15 to 25 or more.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association says that training based on velocity can help enhance physical performance.

A Word From Verywell

Muscle endurance training must be related to your target activity, whether it’s doing barbell squats or running a marathon. You likely have limited time for training each week, and you have to consider whether you spend it doing specific muscle endurance training or practicing your sport.

How to build muscle endurance

Have you ever found yourself winded from climbing the stairs? You’re not alone. Whether you’re an avid runner or a person who enjoys a long walk once or twice a week, endurance plays a big part in both our daily lives and our fitness routines. To help increase our stamina, we reached out to Ben Wegman, a trainer at The Fhitting Room.

Just as the act of working out is important, so too is increasing our stamina. According to Wegman, endurance is a significant part of any physical activity, as it "increases the amount of oxygen in the body, therefore increasing or boosting your ability to perform an exercise for a longer period." Be it carrying groceries into the house or running a marathon, endurance activities benefit "every aspect of your life," says Wegman.

Read on for Wegman's seven tips on how to build endurance.

Meet the Expert

Ben Wegman is a trainer at The Fhitting Room, offering small, challenging workouts live or on-demand. Ben is Fhitting Room’s Chief Curriculum Officer with several certifications, including Kettlebell Concepts, PROnatal Fitness Pre and Post Natal, TRX, and Kettlebell Athletics.

Add Intervals

“Too often, endurance is sacrificed for simple, heavy strength training or steady-state cardio,” says Wegman. To be a well-rounded athlete, he suggests adding endurance work to your everyday fitness routine, as studies show that sessions of sprint interval training increase “muscle oxidative potential” and “endurance capacity.”   To add intervals to your workouts, Wegman suggests breaking up your cardio routine with a few short stints of sprints.

Catch Some Zs

How to build muscle endurance

A good night's rest is essential to building endurance. "Being well rested allows your body to work longer and harder simultaneously," says Wegman. So just what qualifies a good night's sleep? According to a 2019 review in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, seven to nine hours is ideal, and even more, may be necessary if you're an athlete. Less sleep than that can negatively affect your appetite, metabolism, and performance. If you struggle to get enough sleep, try increasing your current sleep cycle by an hour, and see if it improves your fitness endurance.

Eat A Balanced Diet

According to a study in Nutrition Journal, appropriate nutrition improves athletic performance, conditioning, and the avoidance of injury.   According to Wegman, a balanced diet, specifically one with healthy carbohydrates like whole-grain rice and bananas, is essential to increasing fitness endurance instead of their more heavily processed counterparts. For a breakdown on eating healthily, check out these nine commandments for a balanced diet, as told to Byrdie by nutritionists Kelly LeVeque and Elissa Goodman. Don’t forget to keep hydrated when you’re working on endurance, too, and add electrolytes if you’re exercising over an hour or in humid conditions.

Before any exercise, make sure you warm up your body by performing dynamic movements and active stretches.

I hear this statement all the time – “heavy weights with low repetitions will bulk you up while light weights with high repetitions will tone you up.” Is there a difference in these two types of training? Yes, but it’s not about the way you look, it’s about muscle strength vs. muscle endurance.

Doing less repetitions with more weight will help you increase your strength. Doing more repetitions with lighter weights will help you build up endurance. And the truth is, in the real world, you need both and use both in your everyday life.

Muscle strength is the ability to exert a maximal amount of force for a short period of time. In the gym, that may be bench pressing a heavy barbell 5-8 repetitions. Think about lifting that heavy box when moving – that requires strength.

Muscle endurance is the ability to do something over and over for an extended period of time without getting tired. In the gym, that may be doing 50 body weight squats in a row, moving to a rhythm. Skiing, for example, is a sport that uses muscle endurance. When you are going down the slope, bending your knees, firing your quads, and swooshing down that hill or mountain for several minutes to even longer you need endurance.

While at the gym, you will see a variety of people doing a variety of strength and endurance exercises. When teaching a strength class, I always incorporate some exercises that will build muscle strength and some that involve muscle endurance to round out the participants training. I do this because as I said above, out in the real world, you never know whether you’ll need strength or endurance to complete everyday tasks.

And, ignore the myth that using heavy weight will bulk you up. Men genetically can develop more muscle mass through heavy lifting. However, women, for the most part, do not have the type of testosterone to create that huge muscle bound look. Remember, more muscle is a good thing. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn throughout the day and the more capable you are to perform any activity that comes your way.

I hear this statement all the time – “heavy weights with low repetitions will bulk you up while light weights with high repetitions will tone you up.” Is there a difference in these two types of training? Yes, but it’s not about the way you look, it’s about muscle strength vs. muscle endurance.

Doing less repetitions with more weight will help you increase your strength. Doing more repetitions with lighter weights will help you build up endurance. And the truth is, in the real world, you need both and use both in your everyday life.

Muscle strength is the ability to exert a maximal amount of force for a short period of time. In the gym, that may be bench pressing a heavy barbell 5-8 repetitions. Think about lifting that heavy box when moving – that requires strength.

Muscle endurance is the ability to do something over and over for an extended period of time without getting tired. In the gym, that may be doing 50 body weight squats in a row, moving to a rhythm. Skiing, for example, is a sport that uses muscle endurance. When you are going down the slope, bending your knees, firing your quads, and swooshing down that hill or mountain for several minutes to even longer you need endurance.

While at the gym, you will see a variety of people doing a variety of strength and endurance exercises. When teaching a strength class, I always incorporate some exercises that will build muscle strength and some that involve muscle endurance to round out the participants training. I do this because as I said above, out in the real world, you never know whether you’ll need strength or endurance to complete everyday tasks.

And, ignore the myth that using heavy weight will bulk you up. Men genetically can develop more muscle mass through heavy lifting. However, women, for the most part, do not have the type of testosterone to create that huge muscle bound look. Remember, more muscle is a good thing. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn throughout the day and the more capable you are to perform any activity that comes your way.

How to build muscle endurance

As you get older, your muscle mass naturally decreases, but this doesn't mean you can't rebuild your aging muscles. While the process of bulking up looks different for a 70-year-old versus, say, a 30-year-old (hint: for seniors, regular, progressive weight training is key), it's entirely possible for older adults to get bigger and stronger. Win the battle against age-related muscle loss by doing progressive resistance training, eating a healthy diet and being consistent about both.

Video of the Day

Why Your Muscles Decrease With Age

Everyone's aging process looks a little different; there's even variation when people reach advanced ages. Regardless of how you age, however, diminishing strength and muscle loss are common bodily changes, even if you exercise regularly. There's good news, though: Muscle loss and loss of strength can be slowed considerably simply by changing your fitness plan and level of activity.

According to a 2016 article published in the New York Times, skeletal muscles are composed of different fibers, and these fibers can die off with aging, becoming more sedentary and doing fewer high-intensity forms of exercise. In fact, according to Dr. Marcas Bamman, director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, sedentary adults can lose 30 to 40 percent of their muscle fibers by the time they reach 80. While you can't add to the number of fibers you have, you can increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity, at virtually any age, through weight training.

Building Muscle After 70

If you want to successfully build aging muscles, it's crucial to focus on age-specific exercise for seniors over 70. Strength training is one of the most important interventions against muscle loss, according to Harvard Health Publishing. To effectively build muscle, you'll need to do regular, challenging (but not stressful) strength-building exercises.

Introduce weights and machines into your fitness regimen if you haven't already, and, as recommended in a 2011 news release from the University of Michigan Health System, published by ScienceDaily, try to incorporate full-body exercises and exercises that use more than one muscle group and joint at a time (for example, the chest press and leg press).

According to Dr. Mark Peterson (a research fellow at the University of Michigan Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Lab), "You should also keep in mind the need for increased resistance and intensity of your training to continue building muscle mass and strength."

One excellent way to ensure you're continuing to build your strength is by hiring a personal trainer to help you come up with a customized fitness plan and provide adjustments based on your progress. This way, you can be sure that you're doing the right type of resistance training that's necessary to build strength and minimize muscle loss as you age.