– Decreasing training intensity 5% – 15% and increasing training volume 20-50% over 2 – 4 months
– Decreasing volume for heavy main lifts and increasing volume of bodybuilding-style lifts
– Adding additional cardiovascular training
Based on the above, here are some tried and tested strategies proven effective over time.
(1) Add More Sets!
The first is also the most simple: add sets to your routines.
Let’s say you can do 3 sets of 3 repetitions on a 140kg squat. What would then be easier? Trying to complete 3 sets of 3 repetitions with 150kg or just adding another 140kg squat for one repetition at the end? I’d hope you’d say the extra 1 repetition obviously.
Then next session add 2 repetitions with 140kg and 3 after that.
Once you’re able to do 5 to 8 sets of 3 repetitions your work capacity has improved. Now it’s time to drop back down to 3 sets with a bigger weight (maybe try that 150kg now).
The key is that adding 1 repetition per session. It’s not that taxing on your body over your established baseline. Then when you drop back to just 3 sets, it’s less volume than you’ve grown accustomed to, setting you up nicely for the subsequent re-ramping of the volume.
(2) Add More Reps
The second is equally as simple: add reps to your routines.
Made famous by legendary Canadian strongman and weightlifter Doug Hepburn, you simply pick a weight you can do 8 sets of 1 repetition with. Then slowly add an extra rep to each set until you can do 8 x 2 repetitions. Then increase the weight and start over with 1 repetition.
This is simple yet very effective for many.
(3) Add Cardio
The third is to add additional cardio-based workouts around your strength training.
This could exist in the form of 20 minutes cardio in the morning like skipping. It has very little impact on the joints and isn’t very taxing on the body which would allow you to perform your usual strength-based training in the afternoon or evening. Or, depending on your circadian rhythm (i.e. your biological clock, which determines when your body “peaks”) and your work schedule, you could perform your strength training in the morning and your cardio in the evening. Whatever method works best for you, know that adding cardio specific workouts in and around your usual strength and conditioning routines remains one of the easiest ways to increase work capacity.
(4) Add Finishers
The final way is to add movement specific “finishers” to your strength training.
This is a favorite among strength athletes since many experts warn against the dangers of adding cardio to the end of your weight training. It’s theorized this floods the body with a “cocktail of catabolic hormones” that kills your body’s natural anabolic response to training. Worth noting is this is subject to debate and varies from person to person.
But if you’re in this camp, but want to increase your work capacity “finishers” are your answer.
These are quick, intense, movement specific exercises you can add to the end of your workouts:
– 5 x 20m Sled Sprints after a big leg session
– 30 seconds x 10 battle ropes
– 10 x 10m Tyre Flips after a colossal dead lift
But know that, in summary, increasing work capacity is the “secret” to fitness (if ever there was one). Since throughout history the best athletes simply developed the ability to do more work than their competition. This in turn allowed them to adapt, improve and ultimately win.
I LOVE adding finishers to turn the body into a sweaty heap after a big session. But have been using the Free Primal 9 program as work capacity training as a supplement to running training for 16 marathons. But only if it is low to no impact, otherwise you can feel the results really quickly through both work capacity and overall performance.