Work Capacity and Strength Work Capacity and Strength

starting strength gym
Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 42

Thread: Work Capacity and Strength

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    1

    Default Work Capacity and Strength

    Rip,

    Much respect for your body of work. I own and have read through Starting Strength, Practical Programming, and Strong Enough? and have benefitted immensely from your accumulated wisdom. I followed the Texas Method for six months this year and added 50 lbs to my squat, 60 lbs to my deadlift and 10 lbs to my strict press, surpassing bodyweight on the last for the first time.

    I was reading your article on T Nation posted yesterday though and this thought has been building in me for awhile. Strength is obviously important, but you often see very, very strong athletes struggle to do low weight for reps. Consider Kendrick Farris doing Isabel in 3:21 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAZgiahlvjs). He's obviously much, much stronger than say Austin Malleolo, as evidenced by Kendrick's max snatch of 357lbs. Austin has a max snatch of 255 but did Isabel at the CrossFit games in 2012 in 1:54. And he came in 11th.

    So I guess the question is, why wouldn't we suspect that "work capacity" defined as average power output is a trait that responds to consistent, measured progressive overload training in the same way that strength does? If so, why discount the promise of this trait that we can train for in a logical, progressive and measurable manner? Of course if your sport operates in very short time domains, you don't need work capacity. Shot putters are never going to be out of breath. But for most team sports, the ones that have some of the widest participation, this is a very realistic scenario. Linemen in a two minute drill need their performance to remain as consistent as possible. No one gives a shit what their 1RM squat is if they can't maintain 90% max effort into the fourth quarter.

    This is the theory that I've been operating under, using Texas method and welding on some pretty standard CrossFit metabolic conditioning workouts and I'd like to think the results have been positive. I'm certainly not as genetically gifted as I could be, but I've seen improvement and I've been doing it for a few years. As a concession I would have to suspect also that the intensity of the METCON sessions is going to rob some of the intensity from your strength-focused sessions. But this is the tradeoff for being multidimensional. Definitely hear your criticisms of "functional training" too.

    So, ought we to consider work capacity a trait that can be trained for that's only roughly correlated for strength? I'm asking you to consider it. It just stands to reason for me when I see a guy snatching 52.9% of his max for blow the doors off another guy snatching 37.8% of his max for the same amount of reps.

    To give this idea a further theoretical basis, I would combine two ideas you go over at good length in Practical Programming. First, we can force adaptation to almost anything. You give the example of getting a sun tan. If you only get 10 minutes of sun every day, your skin will adapt to that level of exposure and happily quit. You have to overload the adaptive system, little by little, in small enough increments that you don't damage the system, but in large enough increments to force adaptation. I propose that metabolic conditioning which underpins work capacity is one of these traits. Second, I would look at the the idea of an intensity day within the Texas method. You point out that the problem with trying to deadlift quickly is that the intensity is governed by the force of will of the athlete. This is a damn difficult thing to measure. Similarly, when it comes to metabolic conditioning meant to improve work capacity, how are we supposed to walk this fine line between not enough stimulus and too much? How are we to have any idea how intense a session of metabolic conditioning is for an athlete?

    I think this problem is one of the reasons you don't trust it. I also suspect, largely based on my experience, that CrossFit methodology roughly approximates the best possible approach here. It seems very difficult to overload the system to such a degree that it cannot recover, although it does happen (i.e. rhabdomyolysis or doing 100 shitty 225lb deadlifts super fast until you herniate a disk). There is significant danger that people are going to underexert and therefore fail to drive progress quickly, but that's pretty standard when you're dealing with a population that is mostly not elite athletes.

    Still, if we were to agree that work capacity was a thing worth training for in addition to strength for most sports, how would we construct a program that does this better? Having benchmark workouts that represent the same amount of work capacity each time and testing to see if you've improved at them periodically ought to give you the answer. It remains in question whether the training that you've been doing in the meantime was the best way to get there, but you can certainly measure whether or not you did. If not work capacity then why? If not CrossFit then what?

    - Luke

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    38,787

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeD View Post
    So, ought we to consider work capacity a trait that can be trained for that's only roughly correlated for strength? I'm asking you to consider it. It just stands to reason for me when I see a guy snatching 52.9% of his max for blow the doors off another guy snatching 37.8% of his max for the same amount of reps.
    The question is not whether work capacity is trainable -- it obviously is. The question is how long it takes to convert a very high strength base to work capacity, and how efficiently a lower strength base could be converted to that same work capacity. If Kendrick stopped training for 1RM and devoted his already-developed strength to "Isabel," how long would it take him to beat Malleolo? IOW, what is the most efficient way to train for Isabel: doing Isabel every week, or getting your snatch up to the point where Isabel (as RXed, of course) is a smaller percentage of your absolute strength? IOOW, if you want a high-volume submax effort, is it better to make the effort even more submaximal, or to train for more work at the same level of submaximality?

    I think you know which has worked better.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Yesler's Palace, Seattle, WA
    Posts
    14,017

    Default

    Let's also consider some additional pertinent facts: Farris did Isabel as a demo, more or less, with no real incentive to go completely all out, or let his form go completely to shit, or otherwise risk injury. He also probably doesn't train much to do stupid amounts of volume in short time windows, because that's not the nature of his competition.

    This is compared to someone competing for a quite large sum of money, who has been training for that task for a considerable amount of time. It's not exactly surprising that the guy working for the paycheck did better.

    I also doubt that X-fit is really the best possible way to train your work capacity, for precisely the reason that it is almost certainly not programmed in a logical, progressive manner. This is supported by the fact that the people winning at the Exercise Olympics apparently don't really do mainpage programming on the regular.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    602

    Default

    I understand, Strength = work capacity = ability to expend energy. Power is the ability to expend energy at a higher rate.
    Power = Work / time = Strength / time
    I understand that the reduction of denominator (time) is not as trainable as an increase in the numerator (strength)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Sydney Australia
    Posts
    1,450

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeD View Post
    why wouldn't we suspect that "work capacity" defined as average power output is a trait that responds to consistent, measured progressive overload training in the same way that strength does?
    Because, biologically, they are very different adaptations.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Posts
    4,584

    Default

    I would just like to say that I hate the term "work capacity." What is the value of this metric?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    165

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    If Kendrick stopped training for 1RM and devoted his already-developed strength to "Isabel," how long would it take him to beat Malleolo?
    Wouldn't Farris have been training for Isabel already, since he was preparing to compete in the Crossfit Games?

    Seems like Crossfit demands a lot of both strength and conditioning, and if you put too many of your training eggs in either basket you'd come up short.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    38,787

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Sullivan View Post
    I would just like to say that I hate the term "work capacity." What is the value of this metric?
    It is fashionable these days. That is its value.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Land of Shadows...
    Posts
    5,015

    Default

    ...or if I hear "modality, work capacity, or domain" one more time, I'm gonna puke.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    38,787

    Default

    "bias" "intuit" "box" "scale" "Elite" "athlete" "wod" "slop" "SLAP tear"

Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •