Increased Work Capacity = Increased Success

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Increased Work Capacity = Increased Success

At the end of practice yesterday I was watching Tori Brady flip tires, pull sleds, and oh carry. This went on for what seemed an hour. Some of the exercises were ones that I had prescribed, and some were ones that she did on her own. Some where in the middle of all the madness, she looked at me and made a profound statement saying, “Trav if I get beat, it won’t be because someone outworked me.”

A lot of people talk about working hard, but some people actually work hard. We have had a lot of success lately, and I attribute a lot of that success to one thing, “work capacity”. The athletes that work the hardest on my team seem to be the improving the most.

The reason that work capacity is a focus is simple. If I increase an athlete’s work capacity, through definition that means the athlete can perform more work. If an athlete is capable of more work, they are able to handle a higher volume in training. That extra volume as long as it is quality volume will always equal greater results.

A lot of coaches simply prescribe more and more volume in the Olympic lifts, squats and pulls. The problem here is that you have to be careful. If those extra reps are sloppy, you are at risk of getting hurt and forming bad technique habits. I would rather increase work capacity in these two ways:

1. Non-complex movements that don’t involve an eccentric contraction- I don’t want complex movements involving a lot of technique like cleans and snatches because I don’t want bad technique when the athlete is tired. I don’t want a lot of eccentric loading because I want the athlete to be able to recover faster without risk of injury.

We use a lot of sled drags, pulls and pushes. These are great for recovery, and help to bring blood to the areas of damaged tissue from training. Tori is on a program right now designed to absolutely target her squatting ability. She is the first person that I have prescribed 20-rep squats to in a longtime. She will need these sled drags and pushes to repair those damaged quads getting her back under a bar quicker and more recovered.

It’s really crazy to think that these sled drags, pulls, and pushes are healing an athletes, and preparing them to perform more quality work within their sport all at the same time. This type of training should be used for all sports within their strength and conditioning programs. If a football player can perform more work, he will be more prepared and in better shape than his competitor. The same goes for soccer or any other sport.

2. Targeting weaknesses with accessory work- The other way that we increase work capacity is with less complex movements that target specific weaknesses. Tori’s biggest weakness is quad strength. She can beltless deadlift 420lb cold. She proved that at the Mash Picnic. However she is nowhere near that in the squat. That’s our goal right now, so we are targeting her quads like crazy. Besides massive amounts of squatting, she is performing various lunges and unilateral squats. We are also targeting her torso strength or core strength to decrease the collapsing that happens during the catch of the clean.


Nathan Damron is performing OH Carries to stabilize his catch position of his jerks. Dylan Cooper is performing one arm carries to strengthen his glutes, back, and hips. Jacky Bigger simply does it all because she is crazy. You get the idea though. We target weaknesses.

We have a cool little turf field right beside the gym that we use for a lot of the work capacity training. Coach McCauley calls it playing around outside. He says it because the athletes have a lot of fun doing the work capacity outside. Sometimes it turns into a challenge to see who can do the most, and sometimes the athletes are just having fun. They will be walking on their hands, doing back flips, or swinging on our outdoor rig. Either way the work is getting done, and my athletes are getting in better shape.

I will say this. The athletes that work the hardest are the ones that are seeing the most significant gains. Tori’s snatch and clean and jerk has gone up almost 20 kilos each within the last year. A part of that is the environment of the gym, but a bigger reason is that she outworks everyone.

Work capacity and targeting weaknesses is something that has become a major part of the culture at the Mash Compound. After my visit to Westside and my many conversations with Louie Simmons, this has been my biggest takeaway thus far. I did it with my own training, but I hadn’t made it a major part of my athlete’s training until now. Zach Greenwald and Julien Pineau inspire a lot of the movements that I am prescribing. I will say that it has made a major impact on our success.


In closing I would recommend that at least 30% of your training should center around targeting weaknesses with accessory movements and work capacity. Remember this, attacking that 30% will allow you to better attack the 70% that means the most to you. If you can perform more quality snatches, cleans, and squats, you are going to get stronger. That’s the bottom line!

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