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Thread: Work capacity

  1. #1
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Work capacity

    I'm looking for a progressive way to increase my work capacity without stalling my BIG lifts.

    Background: I don't tolerate a lot of volume mixed with intensity in my workouts. Whenever I try to add too many sets or more exercises, then my main lifts start to stall FAST. Currently, I'm on 5/3/1, and when I tried to include "complexes" I stalled my squats and bench within two weeks. I think this is because I stuck to an abreviated routine for too long and didn't progress the way I should have in other areas.

    Goals: After I finish reaching my goals for a strength base, I'd like to start working on hypertrophy, while still increasing my strength base. My strength goals for the short term are a bench of 300 lbs for a few reps, and a squat/deadlift with 400 lbs for a few reps. I am quickly approaching these goals.

    Problem: Once I've reached the strength goals I want to start including some "sensible" hypertrophy specific work. However, I'm afraid that my work capacity won't be up to the task. So, I'm looking for ways to start increasing my work capacity in a gradual manner so I won't interupt my progress on the strength gains. I would appreciate hearing your ideas and experiences with this.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    The only knowledge I have is from research, but it seems your limited work capacity is what is going to allow you to make those hypertrophy gains.

    Once you shift from a strength based program, to a more hypertrophy specific, the lack of adaptation (work capacity) is what you should aim to improve each work out. The progress you make should translate in to hypertrophy.

    Perhaps, you can modify your program so you gradually add more hypertrophy specific days. For example if you are on an A/B strength program and you lift 3x week. Do the the A/B program 2 of the days and then on the third day do a full body workout that is higher volume (hypertrophy specific.)

    Like I said, I don't have practical experience with this, but I am very curious to see how it would work. Theoretically it should work, but many times theories do not translate to application.
    Last edited by Raleighwood; 12-06-2009 at 10:55 AM.
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    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Id do them one at a time. If you are having recovery issues when you change things up then Id leave it be unless you want a complete routine overhaul, which is possible but begins to be difficult as you become more advanced in your training.

    Id add in 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio post WO though, that might be a good start.
    Last edited by ZenMonkey; 12-06-2009 at 11:06 AM.
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    Chubbs McGee Auburn's Avatar
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    Boring But Big

  5. #5
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auburn View Post
    Boring But Big
    Very cool template. Worth a look!
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  6. #6
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattJMM2 View Post
    Once you shift from a strength based program, to a more hypertrophy specific, the lack of adaptation (work capacity) is what you should aim to improve each work out. The progress you make should translate in to hypertrophy.
    Interesting. You're saying that my lack of work capacity will make the increased work more effective because it's a new stimulus?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenMonkey View Post
    Id add in 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio post WO though, that might be a good start.
    That would be simple enough to test out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Auburn View Post
    Boring But Big
    I am currently doing boring but big, with the exception of 3x10 @65% instead of 5x10 @50%. Maybe switching that would be a good increase without throwing me completely over the edge.
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  7. #7
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Some great ideas so far. Keep them coming and I'll decide what I'd like to try.
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  8. #8
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    If you want to continue powerlifting style training and improve your work capacity add in some sled work (you can get one from Westside) and very high rep accessory work. I am talking rep ranges of 30-100. Do these sets for a given body part with at least 2 days rest prior to and after your heavy days for a given body part. So, for chest, you might do a couple of sets of 50 reps 3 days after your heavy chest session. You can also add work in the form of frequent high set and rep work for your abs and hamstrings. You can use ankle weights and do 100 rep sets (perhaps 2) of lying leg curls (just the ankle weights for resistance).

    Alternatively, replace one heavy set each workout with a 20-30 rep pumping exercise for that body part. This will provide some hypertrophy stimulus and not overtrain you.


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  9. #9
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    If you want to continue powerlifting style training and improve your work capacity add in some sled work (you can get one from Westside) and very high rep accessory work. I am talking rep ranges of 30-100. Do these sets for a given body part with at least 2 days rest prior to and after your heavy days for a given body part. So, for chest, you might do a couple of sets of 50 reps 3 days after your heavy chest session. You can also add work in the form of frequent high set and rep work for your abs and hamstrings. You can use ankle weights and do 100 rep sets (perhaps 2) of lying leg curls (just the ankle weights for resistance).

    Alternatively, replace one heavy set each workout with a 20-30 rep pumping exercise for that body part. This will provide some hypertrophy stimulus and not overtrain you.

    Nice! I knew the WS/PL guys did some solid GPP, but not enough to weight in on that.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Raleighwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    Interesting. You're saying that my lack of work capacity will make the increased work more effective because it's a new stimulus?
    I am not sure if I understand you, but I think yes.

    There are a lot of different mechanisms that are active when you are exercising. Depending on the muscles, duration and intensity; different energy systems and responses are activated.

    It seems you have mainly trained your body in high intensity, low duration work. This brings about adaptations in strength and myofibril hypertrophy.

    Changing your program to include moderate intensity, moderate volume work it should bring about the associated adaptations. Which, in this case is some strength, some myofiribil hypertrophy and some sarcoplasmic hypertrophy gains.

    I hope that made sense.
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  11. #11
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    If you want to continue powerlifting style training and improve your work capacity add in some sled work (you can get one from Westside) and very high rep accessory work. I am talking rep ranges of 30-100. Do these sets for a given body part with at least 2 days rest prior to and after your heavy days for a given body part. So, for chest, you might do a couple of sets of 50 reps 3 days after your heavy chest session. You can also add work in the form of frequent high set and rep work for your abs and hamstrings. You can use ankle weights and do 100 rep sets (perhaps 2) of lying leg curls (just the ankle weights for resistance).

    Alternatively, replace one heavy set each workout with a 20-30 rep pumping exercise for that body part. This will provide some hypertrophy stimulus and not overtrain you.
    I am currently pulling a sled the day after lower body work. I should have mentioned that.

    Your high rep stuff looks interesting. I have a press day and a bench day, would I just do the high rep bench work after my press workout and do the high rep press work after my bench workout?
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  12. #12
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattJMM2 View Post
    I hope that made sense.
    Perfectly, and I think you are correct. Like I mentioned, I think I stayed with one type of training (high intensity and low volume) for too long and never worked on other stuff.
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  13. #13
    Strongman Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    If you want to continue powerlifting style training and improve your work capacity add in some sled work (you can get one from Westside) and very high rep accessory work. I am talking rep ranges of 30-100. Do these sets for a given body part with at least 2 days rest prior to and after your heavy days for a given body part. So, for chest, you might do a couple of sets of 50 reps 3 days after your heavy chest session. You can also add work in the form of frequent high set and rep work for your abs and hamstrings. You can use ankle weights and do 100 rep sets (perhaps 2) of lying leg curls (just the ankle weights for resistance).

    Alternatively, replace one heavy set each workout with a 20-30 rep pumping exercise for that body part. This will provide some hypertrophy stimulus and not overtrain you.
    This is exactly what I do; along with supersets, complexes, and strongman medleys.

    High volume work and GPP work can greatly increase work capacity without giving you recovery problems. If anything some of the high volume work may actually improve recovery because you are pumping blood into the muscles but not really doing anything to break down a lot of muscle fiber.
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  14. #14
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the help guys...I'm formulating a plan.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    Aside from all the suggestions offered already, just simply doing more work builds up your work capacity. Just like with strength training, start easy and light and work your way up. Before you know it, you'll have the ability to do your strength work along with your high volume, hypertrophy work, and still be able to recover for next session. You'll have to make sure your eating and sleeping enough too though obviously.
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  16. #16
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brihead301 View Post
    start easy and light and work your way up.
    Thanks Bri. I'm definately going to break into this slowly and be progressive.
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  17. #17
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Okay, here's what I've come up with. I tried to take a lot of what has been recomended, tie that into what Wendler recomends for the routine, and stay true to what I know will work for me. This represents a decent increase in volume and can be changed again further down the road. I didn't want to change too many variables so I can track the progress. This will be done on a 3 times a week schedule:

    Shoulder Press 5/3/1
    Bench Press 5x10
    Rack Chins 2x20
    Power Cleans 5x10 (125 lbs/strict 1 min rest)

    Dead lift 5/3/1
    Squat 5x10
    Sit-Ups 2x20
    Sled Pulls (4 x 250 ft)

    Bench Press 5/3/1
    Shoulder Press 5x10
    Db. Rows 2x20
    Heavy Bag (3 x 3 min rounds)

    Squat 5/3/1
    SLDL 5x10
    Leg Curls 2x20
    Sled Pulls (4 x 250 ft)
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  18. #18
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    That looks pretty cool. Id love to hear some others weigh in on this.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member brihead301's Avatar
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    I like the looks of that. It looks very well thought out

    1.) strength lift for the day (5/3/1)
    2.) hypertrophy assistance lift (high volume 5 x 10)
    3.) endurance lift (2 x 20)
    4.) cardio

    Definately looking forward to seeing how that goes.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member DMedley's Avatar
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    Off Road, thank you for this topic. I am another person that also need to increase work capacity so this has been extremely useful. As you know, I will be beginning 5/3/1 so I am going to add in a variation of your plan when I do.

  21. #21
    Strongman Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    Okay, here's what I've come up with. I tried to take a lot of what has been recomended, tie that into what Wendler recomends for the routine, and stay true to what I know will work for me. This represents a decent increase in volume and can be changed again further down the road. I didn't want to change too many variables so I can track the progress. This will be done on a 3 times a week schedule:

    Shoulder Press 5/3/1
    Bench Press 5x10
    Rack Chins 2x20
    Power Cleans 5x10 (125 lbs/strict 1 min rest)

    Dead lift 5/3/1
    Squat 5x10
    Sit-Ups 2x20
    Sled Pulls (4 x 250 ft)

    Bench Press 5/3/1
    Shoulder Press 5x10
    Db. Rows 2x20
    Heavy Bag (3 x 3 min rounds)

    Squat 5/3/1
    SLDL 5x10
    Leg Curls 2x20
    Sled Pulls (4 x 250 ft)
    This looks like a good program!
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  22. #22
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Thanks to all of you for helping me out with this. I can't wait for the deload to be over so I can get to it.
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  23. #23
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    Can't wait to see you gain on this man! This is the best "How's my routine" thread ever!!!!
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  24. #24
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    After a few weeks of this routine, my cr@ppy recovery has raised it's ugly head once again. First my Bench regressed, then my overhead press regressed. In hind sight I probably bit off more than I was ready to chew. I think I started with a little too much volume and the intensity was already pretty high. So, I've scaled it back a bit and we'll see how it goes...If this goes well, I'll add a tiny bit to the next cycle.

    OH Press Day:
    Overhead Press – 5/3/1
    Bench Press – 3x10 (65%)
    Rack Chins – 2x20

    Dead lift Day:
    Dead lift – 5/3/1
    Squats – 3x10 (65%)
    Sit-Ups – 2x20

    Bench Press Day:
    Bench Press – 5/3/1
    Overhead Press – 3x10 (65%)
    1 Arm Db. Row – 3x10

    Squat Day:
    Squat - 5/3/1
    S.l.d.l. – 3x10 (50%)
    Step-Ups – 2x20

    Sled Pulls on “off” days following squats and deads.
    Last edited by Off Road; 12-27-2009 at 09:17 AM.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member ELmx479's Avatar
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    Sled Pulls on “off” days following squats and deads.

    This is the problem with recovery in my opinion. If I do any type of cardio on my off days it wrecks everything. It don't matter how much food/sleep I get if I don't rest (other than walking around all day at work) on my off days. Sled pulls are high intensity so that may be the issue.

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