Lower Back Muscle Endurance
The Neglected Fitness Component

Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to sustain a contraction or repeated contractions over a long period of time.

Muscle Endurance vs. Muscle Fatigue

The best way to think about endurance is to equate it with fatigue. The more easily a muscle fatigues the less endurance it has.

This is important because if your low back muscles fatigue easily, lack endurance, they will be more susceptible to injury. They will also be unable to maintain a normal position or posture for an extended period of time such as working on an assembly line, sitting for long periods of time or with extended periods of repetitive lifting, twisting or bending.

Your goal is to have as much endurance, strength and flexibility as possible. A lack of any one or more will make you more susceptible to injury or re-injury.

Muscle Endurance and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers

Muscular endurance involves the use of slow twitch muscle fibers. These slow twitch fibers are developed more during exercises that require contractions over a long period of time. Such activities as dance, running, swimming, hockey and soccer require the athlete to perform these activities over an extended time. These slow twitch muscle fibers are best developed by performing exercises with high repetitions with little or no rest between sets.

Fast twitch muscle muscle fibers,on the other hand, are power fibers. They cannot withstand long periods of contraction and they fatigue very easily. Examples of activities that require fast twitch muscles fibers include sprinters, football players, shot putters, and power-lifters.

How To Develop Muscle Endurance

It is possible to perform exercises that will develop a balance of each component-strength, flexibility and endurance. You can do this with resistance training.

Resistance training is a perfect example of developing all three components. With any such exercise program you will for the most part not be developing one component at the expense of the others

For the average person, a non-professional athlete, this is probably the best approach to muscular fitness. It allows you for the development and maintenance of all three components in the most efficient manner.

Time is very important. Unless your job or lifestyle permits you to spend hours in a gym or exercising outdoors then this is ideal.

Another way to develop these three components is to cross-train. Cross-training allows you to train for strength two to three times per week and then on the alternate days you can engage in endurance type exercises.

Flexibility can be incorporated during each of these workouts.

Do not make a mistake that because jogging is in endurance exercise that it will be sufficient for development of lower back endurance.

Jogging involves using the hips, thighs and leg muscles primarily. Yes, you are utilizing low back muscles but in a very limited manner.

Endurance exercises, just like strength exercises and stretching, must be specific and targeted. The best way to do this is with repetitive contractions over an extended time. Performing 15 to 30 repetitions of low back extension for 2 to 5 sets is an example of a specific exercise that targets the low back muscles for enough time to develop and maintain endurance for most activities.

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