Safe Ways to Increase Work Capacity

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Safe Ways to Increase Work Capacity

Work capacity is component of training often neglected in both powerlifting and weightlifting. You will find many strength athletes joking about getting out of breath walking up stairs. I have news for you. That’s not funny. That’s you being completely out of shape in life, and unable to recover in and out of the gym.

I am writing this article as it pertains mainly to performance, but I would like to make a quick note. So far I have said good-bye to three of my strength brothers before any of the three reached 50-years-old. When you are twenty-years-old, you think that you are invincible. You don’t really care about life expectancy. Well guess what? Someday your family will care, and you will too. End rant!

Everyday at the end of practice my athletes will perform movements that are:

• Not eccentric in nature
• Low in complexity
• Non-load bearing

Louie Simmons has been talking about this for years, but unfortunately it’s the one aspect that many have ignored. All of us increase the volume of our barbell training over time, but this can only go so far before technique is compromised and the athlete is put at risk of injury.

There are simpler ways to increase work capacity that are healthier and more beneficial. My athletes spend 30-45 minutes per day pushing sleds, pulling sleds, and carrying various weighted contraptions. I am able to beat on my athletes in a healthy way with this type of training. By doing this they are able to increase work capacity while being able to recover for the next day’s training.

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Increasing work capacity allows the athletes to handle more and more volume over time. If you are able to perform more quality reps than your opponent, you will get stronger than them. If you aren’t focusing on increasing your own work capacity, you can rest assured that your opponent is.

Here are a few suggestions:

Exercises Volume
Sled Drags 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Sled Drags Backwards 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Sled Drag and Row 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Drag and Press 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Drags Sideways 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Sled Drag and Triceps Press 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Drag and Curl 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Drag and Chest Fly 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Drag and Rear Fly 3-6 sets of a certain distance, amount of reps, or time
Sled Rope Pulls 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Sand Bag Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
OH Sand Bag Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
One arm KB OH Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Staggered KB Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Hand Stand Walks 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Farmers Walk 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
One Arm Farmers Walk 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Prowler Push High or Low 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Atlas Stone Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Yoke Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
OH Yoke Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
OH Axle Bar Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Earthquake Bar with Dangling KB Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time
Zercher Carry 3-6 sets of a certain distance or time

The goal with these exercises is just like any other exercise. You always want to be increasing total volume with sets, reps, distance, or time. Increasing volume is the very way that you increase work capacity. If you have any questions on the exercises, just ask me in the comments section.

There is one more thing that I want to hit on, and that is simple cardiovascular work. I think that our friend Alex Viada has now shown the world that athletes can be in shape and be strong. Here are a few simple suggestions:

Exercises
Rower 20-30 minutes
Aerodyne 20-30 minutes
Jog 20-30 minutes
Stay in Zone 2 or 75% of Max HR

Personally I prefer the Rower and sometime the aerodyne. At 5’7” running can be a pretty big impact on my joints. If I run, it’s only one day per week. I mainly stick to the rower, but did get into running a little bit earlier in the year.

Here’s the thing. The heart is an amazing organ. Resistance training alone thickens the wall of the left ventricle in the heart. That’s not always a good thing. Cardiovascular training strengthens the entire heart, and increases the vascular network that supplies blood to the heart. That means the heart itself is strengthened to pump longer and harder. This will cause the heart to pump more blood per pump.

Basically it boils down to more blood being supplied to the muscles equaling a faster recovery time and a more efficient recovery in general. My athletes that condition the most are able to handle the most workload, and they are the ones that are able to recover the fastest. It’s that simple.

The best athletes in the world are the ones that are masters of the mundane. I use this phrase a lot, but it’s the absolute truth. Let’s take weightlifting for example. If we want to get on the same level as the rest of the world without taking the drugs that they take, then we have to do the things that they won’t. We have to do the extra work capacity after practice. We have to do the cardio, so that our hearts will beat stronger. We have to eat right, sleep right, and recover right. The question is: are you willing to do all of those things?

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Thank You from all of us at Mash Elite Performance and Mash Mafia Weightlifting and Powerlifting!

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