I am a big believer in quality over quantity. If we focus on quality, it will be safer and give us a chance for long-term progress.
Now, what if you could increase your quality of work for a longer period of time? Wouldn’t you like to be able do more work and keep the quality up? We all have those times where you have a great first half of a workout but that second part you feel like you got hit by a bus. I have seen people who are deadlifting doing a 5×3 at around 80%, their first couple sets look like speed work but then during their third or fourth set the bar is barely moving because the fatigue caught up to them. So how can we stop this from happening? Work capacity!
Work capacity is the big rave right now, and rightfully so. Work capacity is being able to do more QUALITY work/volume in a certain amount of time. Whether you are a strength athlete, play a team sport/ individual sport, or just enjoy training and want to get in better shape, improving your work capacity can really help your performance.
I don’t think there is just one way to improve work capacity so you can attack it many different ways. I like timed rest periods with your first exercise of the day, squat, bench, and deadlift, specifically 60-90 seconds rest and could go up as the percentages goes up. Let me give you some examples: 12×3 @ 55-60% 10×5 @60% 8×2 70-80%. See all those reps don’t seem like much at those percentages but what happens is as the sets start piling up the fatigue starts creep up. Doing these sets with shortened rest periods you have to work under fatigue. If we keep doing this for a couple weeks, each week should get better. As you build your work capacity you start to get less fatigued from all the sets. This is especially good for a powerlifter. You are able to work on your work capacity while practicing your competitive lift.
Now, programming wise the percentages should change every week. It could look something like this Week 1 8×2 70% Week 2 8×2 75% Week 3 8×2 80% If you are able to continue to increase the you will build your work capacity.
I recently wrote a post on finding new strength, hitting PR’s. You can check it out here. In this post I talked about how hitting a new PR didn’t have to be a one-rep max. What does this have to do work capacity? Week 1 on squats you are able to get 225 for 3 sets of 5. On the third set it gets tough but you make it through. Now, week 2 the goal is to hit 4 sets of 5, that 4th set gets tough but you are able to complete it. The next week you would add another set and so on, and so on. You can also do this with reps, have a weight that you do for a certain amount of reps, add a rep and you can continually add until you really have hit your max. If we continue to keep increasing the sets or reps obviously, there will come a time where you can’t continue to increase anymore, at that time you can go up in weight and start the process over. If we are able add reps or sets every week, we are increasing the amount of work we are able to do.
Density training is something I have been using more and more. I like using the assistance exercises in a density style fashion. First, density training is how much work you can do in a certain amount of time. So we are condensing the training time and the goal is to do as much as you can in that given time. Then, we want to be able to increase the amount of total reps that we do in that given time. By doing it this way we are really able to increase the muscle endurance. I will give you a couple examples: I like doing, 5-minute intervals. Do your recommend work for 5 minutes then rest 2 minutes and then do it again for 5 minutes. You could also give someone 10 minutes and have him or her try to complete as many reps as possible in that time frame without the 2-minute rest. You can do it with a number of combinations, I like to go with anywhere from 2-4 exercises, for instance lunges and TRX rows, 6 reps of each. I like to use rep ranges from 5-12. The goal will be as many sets as possible in that 5 minutes then rest and do it again. You want to continually increase the amount of sets.
Cardiovascular health plays a role in work capacity. If you are in bad shape, you won’t be able to maintain quality work for an extended period of time. Something as simple low intensity cardio for 20-30 minutes won’t only be good for your work capacity, but also help you get into better shape. If you are an athlete, nothing will improve your work capacity better then spending more time playing your sport. Outside the field or court, the examples I gave earlier in this post will help increase your work capacity. If you continue to increase your work capacity, your performance will continue to improve. You will be able to put in more quality work, leading to better results.
Not only will better work capacity help your performance but it will also help your overall cardiovascular health. Go give these suggestions a try, and if you have any questions comment below. If you liked this article please share!