3 Exercises for Strength Endurance and Conditioning

March 4, 2018 by VAHVA Fitness

3 exercises for strength endurance and conditioning. Being strong is more than just peak strength!

Pure strength is important and will make you a better athlete, but that is not everything there is to being strong and athletic.

Just because you can lift heavy or perform fancy skills, doesn't necessarily mean you are very athletic or actually strong (unless other attributes are developed as well).

Powerlifters pride themselves in being able to lift heavy, but that one-sided strength doesn't necessarily make them capable in the real world. One arm chin ups or one arm handstands are also impressive, but they alone won't mean that much.

Peak strength will make you MORE athletic, but it's just one part of the puzzle. Peak strength and skill development are small parts of athleticism and mastering them alone won't make a complete athlete.

Real athleticism is about sustained performance. It's about strength that is sustained for long periods of time.  

A lot of people are focused only on lifting heavier / reaching the most advanced progression instead of developing sustained performance or being able to thrive in chaotic environments.

People are more interested in fancy skills that make them seem like they are strong instead of actually being strong.

Let's compare the performance of these two athletes (simplified illustration):

well rounded athlete performance

A: Well-rounded athlete.

B: Peak strength athlete.

The left A-athlete can sustain a good performance of 70 for a long period of time. The right B-athlete reaches a higher level of performance of 100 in the start but his overall performance is a lot worse.

The right B-athlete would be able to lift heavier and perform more impressive skills. People would consider him the stronger of the two because he has more impressive Instagram posts.

Yet, in the real world the A-athlete is the better athlete. Apart from the very few strength sports such as Olympic weightlifting, javelin throw or arm wrestling, most activities aren't about peak strength. 

If you are interested in real functionality and natural performance, which many comprehensive sports, martial arts and activities require, strength endurance is what actually counts the most. 

Peak strength and power will be necessary to develop, but like said - they are only a small part of the puzzle.

The most important thing in fighting sports is sustained performance over the long period of time. Strength endurance. The same is true for most team sports, military and life in general.

Are you going to judge yourself by the isolated instances like powerlifting competition or the big picture? - The big picture demands well-roundedness and that you are relatively good at everything.

We don't want to push you to learn anything specific (skill development is up to you), we want to make sure your body works the way it is meant to work and you have the capability to thrive in any environment you participate in.

Develop Strength Endurance

In this article and video we have demonstrated 3 different exercises you can do to increase your strength endurance. These exercises are somewhere between a traditional exercise and a movement exercise.

In reality any exercise can be used for strength endurance training as long as it is not too difficult. A normal push up is an excellent exercise, but movement training is in many ways a better way to develop strength endurance.

Movement training is an incredibly tough form of strength endurance training because you constantly have to use your body as a whole. Push ups and squats are easy in comparison.

Movement 20XX program is one of the most well-rounded programs out there by a large margin. The program includes many intense flow routines for fat loss, conditioning and strength endurance. 

In strength endurance, how much and how often becomes very individual - but you need to learn how to push yourself in the training sessions. 

The purpose is to do these movements for as long as you can without breaking the form while minimizing the rest. Basically the progress happens by the duration of your session (the longer the better) and by reducing your rest periods.

When the form starts to break and you start to lose control, it's time to rest. The next session you will try to go longer and rest a bit less. That's how progress is being made.

Strength endurance is something you actually need to focus on to develop it. You may think you have good endurance but there is a reason why most athletes undergo gruelling conditioning workouts on a frequent basis to thrive in their craft.


lizard climber for conditioning and endurance

In the lizard climber you are switching your arms and legs back and forth while staying stationary or moving slightly forward or backwards.

One variation is to move the opposite arm and the opposite leg in the same direction - another variation is to move the same side arm and leg at the same time in the same direction.

The benefits of the lizard climber include:

  • Explosive hip extension and hip flexion: Hip flexors, glutes/hamstrings
  • Shoulder explosiveness and stability: anterior deltoid, chest, serratus anterior
  • Core stability: inner and outer abdominals

The lizard climber will develop explosive body mechanics but the great part is that it's not too difficult to perform which means it can be properly utilized for strength endurance training. 

Developing core stability is one of the greatest benefits of the lizard climber - it's tough to keep the core embraced and stable while you are doing continuous hops with your arms and legs.

Core stability is one of the pillars of athletic training and should not be disregarded! You can find many core stability routines from this website and from our Abs 20XX program.


flea hop conditioning exercise performance

In the flea hop you are jumping from tucked position to full plank with every step. 

The benefits of the flea hop include:

  • Core explosiveness and stability
  • Upper body strength: triceps and shoulders
  • Lower body strength: quadriceps and hip flexors

The first flea hop variation is to bend from the knees and arms in the tucked position and then push yourself open to the push up stance. This variation will emphasize the strength of your upper body while working explosive hip extension and flexion.

The second variation is to do the flea hop with straight arms and legs starting from the pike position.  

This will mainly work the core and hips (explosive flexion). The activity of your shoulders is still present but mostly in the stabilization fashion. 


leaning push up for strength endurance

Leaning push up is the most strength focused movement of the three and as a result also the slowest. Strength endurance exercises don't need to be fast - slow tempo exercises done for long periods of time are also strength endurance training.

The benefits of the leaning push up include:

  • Develop strength: deltoids, chest, trapezius, lats and serratus anterior
  • Scapula stabilization: works multiple muscles around the shoulders

In the first leaning push up variation you stay low the entire duration of the exercise. You start from the tucked position and then lean forward until your body is fully extended. Knees are not touching the floor.

leaning push up strength endurance conditioning

The starting position for the leaning push up.

In the second leaning push up variation you stay high, lean forward to your limit and then lower yourself down to your arms. Then you do a push up and return the same way you got to the position.

These exercises target the anterior side of the body and mainly work the pressing muscles. For complete strength endurance training, you also need to do leg exercises and pulling exercises.

Train hard, stay safe.

samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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