Skip to main content

In a previous column, you mentioned "endurance" training, "strength and hypertrophy" training and "power" weight training. What do those terms mean?


Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to repeatedly exert force over a period of time, and to build muscular endurance you should do sets of 12 to 20 repetitions.

Muscle strength is the maximum amount of force that a muscle can generate. The body adapts to this type of training by increasing muscle size. This muscle growth is called hypertrophy. To build strength, do sets of six to 12 reps.

Muscle power is the explosive aspect of strength. To build power, do sets of one to five repetitions.

(Terms like "endurance" training refer to specific repetition ranges. The rep range dictates the weight that is used. The amount of weight that is lifted and the number of reps determine the training results.)

Not everyone will adapt to training in the same way. One's genetics, gender, exercise history, nutrition and recovery will affect training results.

Most women, for example, do not have the genetics to build serious hypertrophy from strength training.

Often people make the mistake of thinking they are using a weight appropriate for a particular rep range, when actually the weight is too light.

For example, people often use a weight appropriate for an "endurance" rep range when they think they are working within the "strength and hypertrophy" range.

While lifting, if you choose to stop after 10 reps, as opposed to having to stop because of muscle failure, the lift will not lead to full strength and hypertrophy gains. If you are trying to build strength and gain muscle size, the 10th or 12th rep should be the last one you can do with good form.

Trainer's Tip

If you are new to lifting weights, I suggest one to six months of endurance weight training before starting heavy strength or power training. This introductory phase will help you learn proper lifting techniques, and allow your connective tissue to adapt.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.