Muscular endurance is your ability to generate a relatively low amount of force for an extended period of time. Having great muscular endurance makes you more fatigue resistant which is an important factor in sport and day to day physical activities. Two of the most commonly used tests for muscular endurance are press ups and bent-legged sit ups. Both tests are used by the military and law enforcement as well as personal trainers and other fitness professionals.
As with all types of testing, it is essential that your results are repeatable so make sure you use correct technique every time you perform these tests. A change in technique may produce a false result so make sure you follow the instructions for each exercise to the letter!
Press Ups – maximal repetitions
Press ups may be the most commonly performed exercise on the planet but they are also one of the most poorly performed. For this test to be accurate, it is essential you perform each repetition properly.
Men – Place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back until your heels, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Without piking your hips or arching/rounding your back, bend your arms and lower your chest until it lightly touches the floor. Extend your arms and push up so your elbows are extended. That’s one rep – keep going until you can no longer continue. Make a note of your score and compare to the chart below.
|Excellent||> 56||> 47||> 41||> 34||> 31||> 30|
Women – there is nothing to stop you performing full press ups but the chart below is designed specifically for women and the use of three-quarter press ups. Place your hands on the floor and then walk your feet back until your heels, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Bend your legs and place your knees on the floor. Your knees, hips and shoulders should now form a line and your feet should be resting lightly on the floor. Bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor and then push back up to full arm extension. Perform as many reps as you can and then compare your score to the chart below.
|Excellent||> 35||> 36||> 37||> 31||> 25||> 23|
One minute Sit-ups Test
The one minute sit-ups test assesses abdominal and hip flexor muscular endurance. This is a slightly controversial test as it requires you to anchor your feet which is something generally frowned upon in personal training circles. The argument against anchoring your feet is that doing so increases hip flexor activity and takes tension off of the abdominals. While this is true, this is an endurance test and not a conditioning exercise and anchoring your feet will allow you to perform the exercise using better technique than would otherwise be possible. That being said, the increased hip flexor activity can be problematic for lower back pain sufferers so if you are in the least bit worried about lower back problems, I suggest avoiding this particular test.
Men and Women
There are no gender-specific differences for performing sit-ups. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Have a training partner hold your feet down or place them under an immovable object. Lie back and put your hands against the side of your head. Sit up until your elbows touch your knees and then lie back until your elbows touch the floor. This constitutes one repetition. Do as many repetitions as you can in 60 seconds and then compare your results to the appropriate table below.