Along with strength, your level of muscular endurance determines your level of physical fitness, your ability to prevent injuries, and your risk for developing chronic back and joint conditions. Muscular endurance, which is your ability to use your muscles for extended periods of time at less than their full strength, can be measured using a variety of methods.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the abdominal curlup, or crunch, to gauge endurance of the abdominal muscles. Perform the curlup on a padded floor and, using a metronome set at 40 beats per minute, perform as many curlups as you can up to 75 without stopping, while maintaining the cadence of 40 beats per minute. For this test your arms are at your sides. Put a piece of tape where your fingers touch the floor at rest and another piece of tape 8 centimeters towards your feet. Your fingertips should touch the second piece of tape for each curlup.
The pushup is often used as a method for determining upper body endurance. For the test, men do a straight-leg push-up and women do a bent-knee push-up. A partner is required to put his fist on the floor below your chest. To perform a complete pushup, your chest must touch your partner's fist and you must return to the start position with your arms fully extended. You may rest in the "up" position. Do as many pushups as you can until you are exhausted. For best results, breathe out when pushing up and away from the floor.
The bench press can be performed as an alternative to the pushup or curlup endurance test. For the YMCA bench press, use a 35-pound barbell if you are a woman and an 80-pound barbell if you are a man. Perform 30 presses per minute to exhaustion. The bar should touch your chest and your hands hould be shoulder-width apart in the down position. In the "up" position, your arms should be fully extended. This test may be better for someone who is heavy or very fit because it uses a fixed weight instead of body weight.
Endurance testing tries your physical limits and can be potentially hazardous if not done properly. Prevent injury by warming up your muscles before your endurance test with light aerobic activity, such as 10 minutes of walking, to get your heart rate up and to increase blood supply to your muscles. Also warm up with a few repetitions of the endurance test exercise you plan to perform. Gently stretch those muscles. Cool down after the test with light aerobic activity and stretches for the muscles you used most during the test. Get clearance from your doctor and follow guidelines of a recognized authority, such as the American College of Sports Medicine. Practice the exercises for a few days, or between four and nine sessions before performing the test.