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How To Enhance Your Fitness And Physical Work Capacity

How To Enhance Your Fitness And Physical Work Capacity

  1. Do you currently look to enhance your fitness and conditioning for faster recovery?
  2. Are you interested in learning how you can supercharge your conditioning for your life and sport activity? 
  3. So are you looking to increase your ability to perform greater work output? 

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have trained a variety of different athletes. When it comes to being able to compete and to get to the next level the only thing that separates the good from the great is one’s ability to do more work. Of course in terms of training, fitness, and physical competition this is a challenge when you think your heart is going to beat out of your chest.  This is without question the proverbial kick to the balls and it is what us strength coaches refer to as Physical Work Capacity.

“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.”–Herschel Walker

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Physical Work Capacity is being able to perform a high level of work output for a certain task within a given amount of time. The desired amount of time is whatever digital display is shining on the big scoreboard, as well as the demand of time associated with a given task. So why am I bringing up the concept of work capacity today?

Well when looking closely at a sport environment as a strength coach all I see are athletes trying to create stability in an unstable environment. Think about this for a second. This is what sport is all about. It’s about an athlete trying to overcome the opposition by outworking the opposition. This is done through being able to control their physical movement better than than everyone else. The point of this is that this all takes effort. At te end of the day effort means work… and work equates to stress and fatigue.

As far as developing and structuring a physical environment to simulate this much needed characteristic of “control” a smart strength and conditioning program is the best way to provide this need for you. By being creative and introducing different ways to stress your cardiovascular and muscular system you’ll better prepare yourself for most any physical task. In essence your goal should be to enhance your ability to produce a greater work output. 

When looking for a solid “go to” it’s pretty obvious that kettlebells and medicine balls offer a very dynamic quality of strength. This will help to foster this much needed characteristic of “control.” At the end of the day it’s all about movement and being able to perform movements efficiently and repeatedly. When looking at implementing a kettlebell for this purpose this is apparent because of the amount of stability that is required to control the kettlebell during dynamic strength movements. 

If you’re a coach or trainer you understand this, but I think most average folks don’t think about the fact that nerves innervate muscles. Nerves fire and direct muscles to contract and function.

Man standing clinching a jump rope in his right hand.

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I tell my students all the time that being able to squat 500 or 600 lbs. is impressive, but if the only movement you’re capable of is a 500 or 600 lb. squat then you’ll be suited just fine for a powerlifting meet. However what about the need to run, jump, and maneuver around obstacles?

After all, life is all about overcoming obstacles both physically and mentally. So the nerves must be conditioned for these tasks as well. 

Stimulating your nervous system is the key to increasing your level of physical preparedness. So this is why the dynamic nature of kettlebells, medicine balls, and the usual battery of body weight calisthenics can be so effective for your training.

Don’t get me wrong I love lifting heavy weight. However I am also comforted in knowing that a sprint is a skill that is a regular part of my training. Both acts of lifting and running should be consistent to your life…and even instinctual. 

Sprinting and sprinting variations are fantastic for tapping into your various energy systems. This will make you a better conditioned athlete and enhance your physical work capacity.

Standard 30 yard Sprint:

High Knees Run In Place (Sprint Variation):

Addressing Your Energy Systems

To tie all of this together you have 3 basic energy systems that function when it comes down to doing work. Each of these energy systems are tapped based on what you are training and what tasks you are performing at a given moment.

The Anaerobic ATP-CP Energy System

This energy system consists of tasks that last from 0-10 seconds. Basically all physical tasks begin with the ATP-CP energy system. Just to give a few examples weightlifters, football, and sprint distance speed skaters heavily utilize the ATP-CP energy system. All of these activities involve short burst high output effort.

The Anaerobic Lactic (Glycolytic) Energy System

The Glycolytic system provides energy for medium to high intensity. This consists of activity that lasts from 10 seconds up to 2 minutes.  Activities such as soccer, baseball, middle distance runners, and sprinters would fall under the umbrella of the Glycolytic energy system.

The Aerobic Energy System

The Aerobic energy system is the largest and most common energy system. It involves physical activity that last from 2 minutes and beyond. Unlike the previous two energy systems the aerobic energy system requires oxygen.  This involves tasks such as rowing, distance running, and long distance swimming.

The point of all of this is that most activities draw from all 3 of these energy systems minus a few exceptions. As a result the programming needs of an individual trainee should be built to emphasize which systems need the most work. So this would be based on the needs of your relative sport and life demands. Therefore understanding these elements allows for me to program the needs of a trainee in order to enhance their physical work capacity.

In Closing 

Training the nervous system to react and to adapt to a stressful environment should be the ingredient of any strength and conditioning program. For instance, I know a great deal of trainers and coaches like doing “finishers.”

So finishers are great, but the element of Physical Work Capacity can readily be built into the fabric of any strength program with the right planning and programming approach. Manipulating time intervals, movements, and the particular training tools of choice all play a part in building physical work capacity. 

The key here is that no matter the sport, or life situation effective programming can be a game changer in terms of striving for physical readiness.

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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