“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
Why am I not a big fan of lock-step, western-style progressive overload training as a base training concept? Because in my experience, this method — more times than not — will lead to over training (or, at the very least, over reaching) and stagnation. It also turns a blind eye to one of the most basic concepts of training: increasing work capacity.
Work capacity is the underlying component of any truly successful training program. Quite simply, it is the ability to perform an ever-increasing amount work which, in turn, determines one’s level of fitness. And that, in turn, defines one’s level of preparedness.
But there is a delicate balance here that must be maintained, because attempts to raise work capacity too fast will simply result in over training. Smart programming is key, along with the willingness to ramp-up the intensity and “blow out the carbon” when the time comes. Allow work capacity to slide, though, and one’s fitness level will quickly digress. Simply put, if your work capacity is still at the same level it was two years ago, then I’d be willing to bet the coconut farm that you’re also still mired at the same strength and hypertrophy level that you were two years ago.
For more on this subject (and a little more depth), check out this post.
As an example of “work capacity in action”, here’s what I pulled off last Friday:
- 3 miles worth of interval fixie sprints from the Efficient Exercise Rosedale location, to the University of Texas’ Clark field
- 8 x 80-ish meter (running) sprints. Stopped at drop-off, i.e., at two consecutive failures to meet or exceed my best time for the day
- fixed-bar muscle-ups; 25 complete reps (+ 3 missed attempts along the way) in 8:47
- another 3 miles worth of fixie interval sprints, back to the EE Rosedale studio
- 25 bear complexes (squat clean to front thrust overhead, to back squat, to back thrust overhead, back to the floor. Wash, rinse, repeat) at 75% + “pocket change” of bodyweight (or 164 lbs at 215 lbs) in 12:29
To say that I was fairly well scorched after this is an understatement. And the only way I was able to pull this off — and to be able to recover sufficiently — was to have first established a solid work capacity base. And on the strength/hypertrophy side of things, having this base then allows me to really amp-up the amount of load I can tolerate in a particular exercise for a given duration. See how this works? So simple, and yet, so often overlooked.
In health, fitness and ancestral wellness –