I am writing this blog post currently suffering from the affects of last night’s session with my trainer Chris Burford (more on this later) and have been reflecting on an article I just read by Dan Cleather in the latest UKSCA S&C journal. It’s a new column called ‘Strong foundations,’ and it features contributions from experienced S&C coaches outlining their philosophies.
The column editor Dan kicked us off with his thoughts on Volume and Intensity programming for athletes. A couple of key points came out:
Importance of High Intensity Training:
Coach Swole offers this definition:
Workout Density: The amount of exercises, reps, and sets that are performed per workout. Think super-sets.
Density builds capacity.
According to Coach Dos Remedios Work capacity involves several physical qualities, these include:
Aerobic and anaerobic capacity
Body composition (% body fat)
Joint mobility (range of motion, durability)
Most comprehensive S&C programmes these days usually have work capacity in the programmes in various forms. For advanced athletes its the filler and/or finisher of a strength session. It can also be a stand alone work capacity session be it repeated sprints, sled pushes, circuits, barbell complexes etc. My contention is that Work Capacity will automatically increase as you get stronger in these athletes (this is another way to increase it) so my question is how much extra ‘work for works sake’ do I need to be doing to increase general fitness? And how does general fitness help me achieve a specific goal?
I know that the more ‘work’ I do the more that cuts into my recovery ability- which is vital to get me ready to do my ‘high intensity’ sessions when I need to be fresh!!!! So I don’t just want to be doing mindless work. Let’s look at some of the applications of work capacity training!
Work capacity: do more work in each session
One of the simplest ways to do this is to use SUPERSETS. Check out the full article here for an in depth blog I found on this concept:
Below is another way of getting more density. Just have a few supplementary exercises after the main ‘strength’ exercise where you can either rep out on the last set (exercise 2 in example) and/or finish with some high rep body weight exercises.
Work capacity: Do more work in the the day, the week.
For me work capacity is not just about getting more work done in each session by targeting the above qualities (basically things you can do tired because it’s just about getting it done). It’s about getting more work done each week, month, year by doing more sessions. This way you are building up the athlete’s ability to handle more and more work without any one session compromising their recovery ability.
Here is a link to a good article on ways to increase work capacity by adding extra sessions with EliteFTS
It basically recommends use of extra recovery work outs, workouts to target weak points, specific work capacity sessions such as dragging a heavy sled for 200 yards then resting 30-45 seconds.
Another way to do it is to put more sessions in the same part of the day such as an example from Coach Dos below:
7:15-8:15: Weights (includes some plyos, core strength, etc.)
8:15-8:30: Warm-up and agilities/speed
9:00-9:20: Water and stretch
If you did the above morning you would have developed a large work capacity no doubt! And one of the things I do with our adolescent athletes is slowly introduce more sessions in their week so they get used to having sessions every day and then on some days double sessions!
This occurs because all three energy systems “turn on” at the same time, and as each one maxes out, it taps into the next higher bracket for assistance until full recovery can be accomplished. Since the aerobic system serves as the base for substrate recovery and repeated bouts of high output, if inadequacies exist, fatigue will occur faster due to an over reliance on the less-equipped energy brackets to handle restoration, and power output will be compromised.
Brendan Chaplin: ‘I do a lot of work capacity circuits to build general fitness in my athletes. I think many of us do.
If you don’t have the fitness to train for strength how the hell can you actually get strong? Or powerful? Or build a high level of endurance’?
7. Generally speaking, sprint before your lower body strength training work, not after.
People often ask me when the best point in one’s training split is to sprint. As a general rule of thumb, I prefer to have people sprint before they do their lower body strength training sessions. We might have athletes that will combine the two into one session (sprinting first, of course), but most fitness oriented sprinters would sprint the day or two prior to a lower body session. A training schedule I like to use for many athletes and non-athletes alike is:
Mo: Lower Body Strength Training (with athletes, we may do some sprint work before this as well)
Tu: Upper Body Strength Training
We: Sprint Work
Th: Lower Body Strength Training
Fr: Upper Body Strength Training
Sa: Sprint Work
In this case, the intensive lower body work is consolidated into three 24-36-hour blocks (Mo, We-Th, Sa).
Conversely, I’ve also met lifters who like to sprint at 70-80% effort the day after a lower body strength training session, as they feel like it helps with promoting recovery.
So there you have it. A complete overview of my take on work capacity and the need to build a volume base!!!