The aim of this study was to determine the importance of muscular strength and power on a muscular endurance performance test. Fourteen firefighter recruits performed a progressive resistance test (PRT) followed by a specific maximum repetition test (MRT40) on the bench press exercise with measurements of power, strength, and muscular endurance. Comparisons were then made to examine relationships between the 3 muscular fitness variables. The results, expressed in absolute form and related to body weight, indicate that the performance in the MRT40 is significantly related (p <or= 0.05) to body weight (r = 0.78), 1 repetition maximum (1RM) (r = 0.83), maximal power (Pmax) during the PRT (r = 0.71), Pmax produced with 40 kg in the PRT (r = 0.64), and the average power and force applied during all repetitions in the MRT40 (r = 0.78 and r = -0.64, respectively). The load that expressed the maximal average power during the PRT was 47.6 +/- 9.0% of the 1RM and did not show any significant relationship with 1RM nor performance in MRT40. It was concluded that performance in this specific upper body endurance test depends on several variables, among which maximum strength, body weight, and maximum absolute power are the most important. As the ability to repeatedly apply submaximal force is a requirement of firefighters, and other occupations/sports, the current research suggests that the initial goal of a training program to enhance muscular endurance should be to increase maximum strength to a point that the specific load being lifted during repeated actions is less than 40% of the individuals' 1RM. Subsequent training should then focus on maintaining maximal strength levels and improving local muscular endurance in the specific task.