Going out and hitting the pavement or pedaling towards the horizon is an important part of developing leg muscular endurance. After all, muscular endurance is the ability of your muscles to perform a task repeatedly over an extended period of time. But this is only part of it. Doing exercises to build strength and teaching muscles to react under load over and over will get you going longer and performing stronger.
Your body adapts to the stimulus you provide; therefore, to increase leg endurance, choose exercises that force your muscles to contract repeatedly over a period of time.
How to Increase Muscular Endurance in the Legs
1. Develop Your Strength
Ideally, you have a periodic training schedule. Periodization involves dividing your workout into phases that vary in volume (number of sets and repetitions) and intensity, or the amount of weight you lift. Periodization not only protects against injuries and overtraining, but it is also the most effective way to train for better performance in any sport.
A periodic program will include a strength phase and an endurance phase. The strength phase focuses on lifting heavier weights for lower reps to develop maximum strength. The greater your muscle strength, the greater the strength you can sustain over a longer period of time.
2. Increase Your Repetitions and Intensity
To build strength, you usually lift a heavyweight for one to eight reps. During the endurance phase of your program, your weight should be lighter and your reps should be higher—about 50 percent of your one-rep max (if you know) or low enough that you can do without 15 or 20 reps. above.
You should also remove it faster. Strength gains tend to be slow; with all that weight they pretty much have to be. But if you’re thinking about endurance activities (cycling, running, soccer), you need your muscles to respond quickly and repeatedly. This type of removal will train them to do just that.
3. Choose Compound Exercises
Compound leg exercises use all or nearly all of your leg muscles at the same time. Examples include squats, deadlifts, and step-ups. Isolation exercises like hamstring curls use only one muscle at a time. Compound exercises stimulate your metabolism and cardiovascular system more than isolation exercises, and they more closely mimic the demands of sports and other endurance activities.
4. Do Plyometrics for Strength
Plyometrics are bodyweight exercises that involve a type of jumping or explosive movement. Jump squats, box jumps, and pass moves are examples. Doing 20 or 25 box jumps in a row teaches your muscles and tendons to contract and expand like springs over and over again.
According to a 2013 research review in PLoS One, high-rep plyometrics are also 10 on the intensity scale, similar to sprinting or another high-intensity interval training that increases V02 max and other markers of aerobic capacity.
5. Do Circuit Training
There is no break time when training for endurance. Do your exercises in a row, immediately switching from one exercise to the next without rest. For example, do a squat, single-leg deadlift, and step-up circuit. Make a set of each; then repeat for three to five rounds. You can also work your upper body by alternating between lower body exercise and upper body exercise. This gives your legs some break but keeps your cardiovascular system in motion.
If it sounds easy, you’re doing it wrong. You want to feel your muscles burning at the end of your sets and your heart should be pumping.
6. Combine Weights and Cardio
The longer and harder your workout, the better for your endurance. Do cardio bouts with your workouts to really challenge your legs, heart, and lungs. At the end of each round of your circuit, jump rope or jump onto the treadmill and run three sets of 30-second sprints with 30-second recovery time in between. You can watch the video below How to Increase Muscular Endurance in the Legs