Work Capacity 101

By Ross Enamait – Published in 2005

Work Capacity 101 is one of many routines contained within the Infinite Intensity training manual. This workout consists of four exercises, performed as a circuit, with the intention of enhancing the athlete’s work capacity.

Mel Siff offers the following definition of work capacity in his informative text Supertraining:

“Work capacity refers to the general ability of the body as a machine to produce work of different intensity and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body” (Siff, 2003).

All athletes can benefit from improved work capacity. This is particularly true for combat athletes. You must be prepared to fight hard, round after round. By improving general work capacity, you will be prepared to endure more intense work, while quickly recovering between workouts (or rounds).

Recovery is extremely important. Many competitive fighters train 2 or 3 times per day, often pushing their body to the limit. A poorly conditioned athlete will be unable to keep pace with such a vigorous training schedule. The fighter must be in shape to train hard, while possessing the ability to recover quickly. You cannot train hard one day, and then be out of action due to 3 days of extreme muscle soreness.

Improving work capacity is one important step to enabling the body to train harder and more often.

The following routine is just one of many options. Variety is extremely important when training for improved condition. We are not looking to adapt to a particular routine or training style. It is important to incorporate variety into the conditioning regimen to prevent staleness and adaptation to a particular drill/style. For example, swinging a sledgehammer is an excellent conditioning drill, but you are not training for the Sledgehammer Olympics. You are training for improved performance in a given athletic event. Incorporate variety to continue a positive training response.

The Routine

The following routine consists of four movements. Each movement will be performed non-stop, with no rest between exercises. You will continue this workout for 20-minutes. Your goal is to perform the circuit 10 times in 20-minutes. You will begin a new circuit on every 2nd minute (ex. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 minutes). The circuit will average approximately 75 seconds (+/- 10 to 15 seconds). This will allow approximately 45 seconds of rest before starting the next cycle.

For example:

  • Start the routine at time 0:00
  • Circuit lasts 75 seconds (ending at 1:15)
  • Rest 45 seconds (until 2:00)
  • Begin second pass through circuit at 2:00

This will continue for 20-minutes, or until you have completed 10 circuits. The circuit may not feel too difficult after the first few cycles, but becomes more and more challenging as you approach the 20-minute mark.

The Exercises

  1. Pull-ups x 5
  2. Medicine Ball Slams x 10
  3. Burpees x 15
  4. Jumping Jacks x 20

Perform each movement as fast as possible. Move from one exercise to the next without stopping.

Below I have provided a video demonstration of one pass through the routine.

Workout Summary

  • If this circuit is too difficult to begin on every second minute, you can alter the routine with one of two options. The first option is to increase the length of rest between circuits. Simply perform as many circuits as possible within 20-minutes. Do the best that you can. The second option is to reduce the number of burpees from 15 to 10. Burpees are the most difficult portion of the routine.
  • When performing burpees, it is important to explode from the ground. Burpees are as intense as you make them. You can either explode upward, or execute a half ass jump. You must decide. In addition, be sure to drop the chest to the ground during each repetition. You will essentially perform a pushup within the burpee. Burpees are not the same as squat thrusts.
  • When performing the medicine ball slam, a non-bouncing medicine ball is recommended. You must slam the ball downward with a max-effort. If you use a bouncing medicine ball, be sure to move your head out of the way to avoid being smashed in the face with the rebounding ball.
  • If you do not need 45 seconds of rest before starting a second pass through the routine, go for it! Challenge yourself to perform more than 10 complete circuits within 20-minutes. As long as you move as fast as possible, you will benefit from the routine.

This workout can be performed 1 to 3 days per week depending on your condition and weekly workload. This workout is just one of many that is featured in the Infinite Intensity text. A complete 50 day program is also included, with details on how to construct a routine specific to your goals.

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