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How to measure muscle endurance



Staff Member
Aug 11, 2010
Muscle endurance

Technically, there are two ways to measure your strength. Today, we are going to focus on muscular endurance, which is how many times you can lift or complete a particular exercise. This is different than muscular strength, which is the maximum weight you can lift one time. For our purposes, muscle endurance is a more practical tool.

Muscular endurance is important because it makes every day activities easier, helps to prevent injuries, makes our bones stronger, prevents all kinds of diseases and chronic health conditions, and helps to make us feel great.

There are various ways to measure muscular endurance, but the one constant is that your muscular endurance is specific to the muscles being used. A push test measures your upper body strength and the curl up test measures the muscle endurance in your core.

There are various ways to complete these tests. I am going to describe the most common ones that can be used with minimal complications. Each of the tests outlined below has population norms associated with it that will allow you to compare your results to others of your age and gender. If you want to compare yourself to others, go to my blog at,where you will find a chart that you can compare your scores.

All tests should start with an appropriate warm up and be completed in the presence of a fitness professional to ensure proper form. As with any fitness tests, you should always consult with a doctor before starting one.

Push Up Test: Males complete this test from their toes and females from their knees. The goal is to complete as many as you can until you cannot complete another or until your form is incorrect two reps in a row. The goal is for the chin to touch the floor each repetition. If the chin does not touch that repetition is not counted. Your hands should be just outside your arms pits.

Curl Up Test: This is also called a partial curl up. This is not a sit up test. You start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet flat and arms outstretched along your side with the palms facing down. One curl up consists of moving your hands as far down toward your feet as possible without lifting your lower back off the ground. The goal is to see how many you can complete in one minute. The maximum number you should be able to achieve is 25 for this test. The actual test asks you to use a metronome so that each curl up is completed at a specific cadence. For simplicity sake, you can complete each repetition at a controlled pace.

If your score ranks you in the 90th percentile, this means you are better than 90 per cent of the population. If your score ranks you in the 10th percentile, this means that 90 per cent of the population can do more than you. When completing fitness tests we are normally looking for an individual to improve and are rarely concerned with where they rank against the population, so don't let your ranking frustrate you. Simply view it as a starting point. You should see your scores improve quickly if you are following the right exercise program and improving muscle endurance.

Mike Bates