Strength vs. Power vs. Endurance

Are you looking to get stronger, bulk up, lean down, or improve your times? These are a few of the goals that push people to exercise consistently. How do you accomplish each of these? If you do not know how or why, then you will essentially be running blind. Here is what you need to know about strength, power, and endurance to give yourself a clear direction towards your goals.



Strength is the maximum amount of force a muscle can exert at once. This is best tracked as your 1 rep max. Basically, how much can you lift? Strength training can also help you increase muscle size (hypertrophy).

When training for strength, do 1-6 reps at a time. You should be using enough resistance that you are exhausted at the end of each set and unsure if you can do one more rep.


Strength Exercise Example:

Bench Press 4 6
Squats 4 6
Tricep Extensions 4 6
Upright Row 4 6
Lat Pull-Down 4 6



The equation for power is force x distance/time. Notice that it involves a time component, implying speed. The two aspects of power are strength and speed. Because of this, many argue that power is one of the most important elements that should be trained for in most sports. How high can you jump? How quickly can you change directions? How long does it take you to reach your desired speed?

It is commonly known as the explosive aspect of strength. If you are training to achieve power, shoot for 1-4 reps at a time. In addition to that, be sure to involve a speed component to your training. Olympic lifting is an especially effective way to train for power because of the more ballistic and technical nature of the exercises. 


Power Exercise Example:

Power Clean 3 4
Snatch 3 4
Push Press 3 4
Box Jumps* 2 15 Secs.
Step Ups* 2 15 Secs.

*For plyometric box exercises, spend less than .5 second on the ground.


Endurance is the ability of a muscle to contract repeatedly without quickly fatiguing. Marathons, soccer, cycling, and swimming commonly come to mind when people think of endurance. Endurance can also apply to holding a single contraction for a long period of time––just like when you are doing a plank and forcing your core to contract continuously. 

To train endurance in the gym you can do 12 or more reps per set. To test your endurance, try maxing out how many repetitions you can do at 75% of you 1 rep max. For example, if your max is 100 lbs., see how many reps you can do at 75 lbs. This method of training will help you develop leaner muscle. Improving your endurance is a crucial, yet often undervalued aspect of training.

Endurance Exercise Example:

Pull-ups 3 15
Rows 3 15
Curls 3 15
Back Extensions 2 20
Bike/Run/Stair Steper 20-30 Minutes  

Putting It All Together:

Strength, power, and endurance are each important to have a well-rounded approach to your workouts. Whether you are training to be a better athlete, get into better shape, or maintain your current conditioning, be sure to mix up these three different aspects of training. Play around with different numbers of reps, sets, resistance, and varying levels of speed. You may also find that you break through some of your fitness plateaus by doing this.

As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to get bigger, increase your weight, and decrease your reps. A strength and power approach will help you. If you are looking to get leaner, decrease your weight, and increase your reps. The increased focus on endurance will help you achieve a leaner look.

About the Author: Dr. Stephen Workman

Dr. Stephen Workman is a chiropractic physician practicing in Cedar City, Utah.  Dr. Workman specializes in sports injuries and performance. He has treated many professional athletes, dancers, and musicians over the years. In addition to his Doctorate in Chiropractic, he has a Master’s degree in Sports Medicine and two Bachelor’s degrees in Human Biology and Exercise Science.  Dr. Workman enjoys all forms of exercise, sports, and outdoor activities. He is also a drummer and an avid foodie. Dr. Workman can be reached at

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.