I have recently returned to the gym and I am trying to get back to my former glory (and exceed eventually). The big problem I see is that I can complete a set with full range of motion, but following sets are difficult to complete without using partial reps. Clearly I have strength, but no endurance.

My current focus is hypertrophy and I do about 10-12 reps in my exercises where the last rep or two are really challenging. Is there something I can do on top of my normal routine to improve endurance? Or is there something I can incorporate into my routine? Aside from just continuing the exercising until my endurance improves over time. I'm looking for something extra, if such a thing exists.

  • Endurance should automatically improve with repeating the exercises, so with time.
    – Jan
    May 17, 2019 at 17:22
  • @Jan, very true. But I'm impatient and was also curious if there was something else I can do. May 17, 2019 at 17:25
  • 1
    Not that I'm aware of. Endurance results from exercise. You may want to try some cardio (walking, running) to improve your lung capacity and circulation, though.
    – Jan
    May 17, 2019 at 17:27
  • So the problem is muscular endurance not running out of air or heart rate accelerating?
    – Andy
    Mar 22, 2020 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


I consider content by Matt Wenning as gold, and study it in great detail. If you watch this video and jump to 9:32: Potentiation Warm-Ups for Lifting at the High School Level and Beyond you can hear how he struggled with fatigue after performing squats in powerlifting competitions, resulting in a poor benchpress result.

His solution was to increase work capacity by performing sets of 25 repetitions as a part of warm-up. However he did not perform such long sets on the lifts themselves. Instead he mostly used isolation exercises targeting muscles he had identified as weak or lagging. In the case of benchpress that was his triceps and lats, which he targeted with 4 sets of 25 of dumbell benchpress, lat pulldown and triceps pulldown.

At 18:10 he mentions that his warm-up for lower body consists of: 4x25 belt squats, 4x25 45 degrees back extensions and 1 minutes planks. None of these exercises involve loading the spine with a barbell and are therefore easier on the back. This seem to be a very important point. "You want strength without mileage". Therefore you should try to incorporate as much as possible exercises that do not load the spine with a barbell.

Another point that he mentions (21:30) is that the benchpress should be treated as a triceps exercise (not a pec exercise) for healthy shoulders. And that the warm-up exercises should be rotated (23:45).


Endurance is being able to do an activity longer, so to increase endurance you need to do the activity longer. You're talking about endurance on the rather low end of the endurance scale. In other words, not on the doing an activity for several hours continuously (such as cycling or marathon running) where the word endurance is most often used. What you're looking for is sometimes called power endurance.

Also there's always a trade off with higher weight and the reps you can do. For example your 1 rep max is your max because you can only do it one time. You can do a lower weight more times. So it's possible your endurance isn't the problem and it's just that your expectations with what weight you can do for your whole set is wrong. But it is also possible with the same 1RM to be able to do more reps at 80 or 90% or whatever of your 1RM. Again to train to do that means you need to do more reps.

Some options to increase endurance:

  1. Lower weight and more reps. If you can't complete your sets at full reps try dropping by 2-5kg until you can. Then progress adding weight from there as you can but still completing your sets.
  2. Add additional sets with lower weight and higher reps. For example try putting 70-80% of the weight you normally workout at and try aiming for maximum reps.
  3. Add 1-2 negatives at the end of your last set or alternately at the end of each set. Have your partner give the minimum assistance to keep the weight moving as you tire out. These can be extremely challenging and if done at the end of each set will tire you quickly meaning you will not be able to complete as many sets.

You may need to vary between these options to increase your endurance.

As with increasing any exercise program, monitor carefully for signs of overtraining where your body is not recovering properly.


My simple answer would be: - Try working in the area of the anaerobic threshold for as long as possible.

There is also couple of aspects of endurance: - Physiological / structural - Psychological

The case is really not that simple.

  • 1
    How would working anaerobically increase endurance? Simply giving a vague "it isn't that simple" doesn't make for a great answer.
    – JohnP
    Jun 26, 2019 at 16:53

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