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- Rep Power
Increasing work capacity
What we do as lifters is ever strive to increase work capacity. Be it by more volume, more training days, or more weight on the bar. There are wide varieties of ways to increase workload, and without workload going up, you are……STUCK.
The simplest and the method that should always remain in your mind is ever increasing weight on the bar. Without this occurring, you might as well stay home—simple enough.
Another way to increase work capacity is by increasing the volume, i.e, sets and lifts done. This can be great for size, but everyone has a threshold of how many lifts per session and per week their body will tolerate. AND…..and it is a big AND, IF YOU CANNOT PROGRESS IN WEIGHT DOING THE AMOUNT OF VOLUME YOU ARE DOING, YOU WILL CAP OUT IN SIZE FAST!! Irregardless, one should slowly try to increase volume over time WITHIN THE LIMITS THAT YOU ARE STILL PROGRESSIVE WITH THE WEIGHTS.
The third way it is typically done is by increasing the frequency of your sessions for a particular lift, or bodypart. This is where it can get really tricky as many people just do not recover well enough to squeeze in more frequency. It has been a long tradition to start lifters on a three day a week full body program for instance. And in this instance I see a LOT of mixed results. Some guys and girls absolutely thrive on this type of a schedule, while others fall flat on their faces, like I did when attempting it in my youth. Why didn’t it work for me? My work capacity SUCKED, and I NEVER came close to recovering.
On the other end of the spectrum there are people that recommend 8-12 days between lifts and bodyparts. And while I KNOW there are people out there that do get the best results that way, it is not an optimal loading frequency.
Remember, the more frequently you can train and recover and do it again, the faster you will achieve your size and strength goals. That said, training before you have recovered (what LOTS of trainees do) is useless and unless you are consistently hitting PR’s what’s the point??
What we would like to be able to do is train as frequently as possible, with as much volume as possible, while being as progressive with the poundage’s as possible. Easy huh!
Well it is until most people actually try and do it and fall flat on their faces.
And then you need to take into account that as you become more advanced, the more each lift takes out of you. I really like the quote by Louis Simmons that went something like this: Take a 250 lb squatter and have him do a max set of 10 squats, he will walk away from the rack dizzy and breathing hard. Take a 800 lb squatter and have him do a max set of 10 squats and he isn’t walking anywhere when he’s done, he will probably on the floor in the rack when he’s finished.
So you have work capacity increasing as you get more advanced as you slowly adapt to increasing weights and increased workloads, but you are always fighting the fact that as you get bigger and stronger, each lift you do impacts recovery more due to the sheer weight on the bar. How do you get past this?
Work capacity is loosely defined as the body’s ability to perform work. How do you make your body more able to perform work without outstripping its capacity to recover? The traditional way is just to throw more work at it and see if it sinks or swims. Nice idea but in many, if not most cases, it simply sinks. Like anything else lifting related, you must make haste slowly. If you are to increase work capacity by doing more volume and frequency, the extra work should be added in slowly over months, and even years time.
You can also overload it for a time, and then unload it. This allows extra work to be done while still giving recovery periods that allow PR’s to be set, and this in essence is what dual factor training is about, but it has been used in many sports and lifting applications for years now under different names.
You can also load it WITHOUT using weights in the gym per se, but by using various forms of GPP (general physical preparedness). This is my first choice for increasing ones work capacity as it allows the body to slowly adapt to more workload, and does so in an environment that does not produce DOMS. The pulling sled is my first choice for this and is used by a large percentage of the top lifters and strongmen in many sports. See:
For more sled info.
Here is what my experience has been with lifters concerning increasing work capacity has been. EVERYONE can increase work capacity, and everyone can. How much it goes up is very individualistic. Some people are able to double their PRODUCTIVE workload in a short period of time, while others see some, but marginal progress. Now comes the part few want to hear. REAL progress in work capacity is improved on over the YEARS. The guys at the top have usually been lifting 5-25 years and it doesn’t happen overnight, so if all you are in this for are bigger biceps before spring break to impress the babes on the beach, you are barking up the wrong tree. If you are in this for real though, you will formulate at plan to gradually increase your work capacity over time.
good post IA
GPP is the way to doing more volume..
almost everyone does it backwards using a ton of volume then cutting back..
guys like Chuck Vogelpohl have hhuge work capacities but at the same time hes worked hard in order to increase his workload
- Rep Power
Whats funny is many BB'ers would look at Chucks program and think it was relatively low volume
crazy i know
Training Forum Junkie
- Rep Power
Nice post IA.... I need to stop putting off my sled weld-up lol...
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