Testing Work Capacity

Resting, testing, and assessing, are the natural conclusion of a given training block that inform the next cycles training focus.

Testing Work Capacity
Photo by Sam Moghadam Khamseh / Unsplash

After completing a 12 week accumulation program it's not a bad a idea to wind down the volume for a week or two.  Whilst waiting for Nonprophet to release their capacity training manual (a natural progression between endurance and strength) I've done some testing and assessing – the other logical conclusion after completing a designated block of training.

Capacity Test No. 2

30-minute AMRAP
3, 6, 9, 12, 15… reps
Assault Bike cals
Power Clean reps
Minutes 1-15 @ 95 lbs
Minutes 16-25 @ 125 lbs
Minutes 26-30 @ 155 lbs
*the rep scheme DOES NOT reset when the weight changes.

The "score" is the total power clean reps / 30.  For me on this test that was 2.33.

What is Work Capacity
This is from my book the Athletic Development – The Art and Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. I thought this would clarify what I mean when I refer to work capacity. “Work capacity is the ability to tolerate a workload...

Capacity Test No. 1

30-minute AMRAP
3, 6, 9, 12, 15... reps
Assault Bike cals
Power Clean reps
Minutes 1-5 @ 155 lbs
Minutes 6-15 @ 125 lbs
Minutes 16 - 30 @ 95 lbs
*the rep scheme DOES NOT reset when the weight changes.

The scoring method is the same here, and for me the result was 2.43.  What does this mean?  

My impression is that if your score is higher with the light / long set at the end you're more aerobic (endurance) or lactic (capacity) efficient.  Contrarily, if you score higher with the heavy / short set at the end you're more anaerobic-alactic (strength) efficient.

If the load get's lighter, it's easier to keep grinding (i.e. keep going / endure).  However, getting hit with a heavy load at the end has no way to "willpower" your way through it.  You either have the strength to pull hard enough or you don't.

It was awful watching the seconds tick by knowing I needed to rest longer to give a solid effort on the next pull.

How To Train Your Anaerobic Capacity As A Cyclist — High North Performance
This article explains what the anaerobic glycolytic energy system is and how it can be measured. We then explain the important relationship between the anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, and how this impacts the way you should train the anaerobic system. Finally, we’ll present some anaerobic capa


"You either get your body weight in calories in 10 minutes on an Assault / Echo Bike, or f* you." ~ Mark Twight (paraphrase)

This was the metric supposedly implemented to end the bulshittery of substitutions and knock-offs of "the 300 Spartan workout."

I first attempted this in May this year:

170 calories @ 18:35 (9.15 cals / min)

5 months later, in November, a slightly different approach:

10 min @ 130 calories (13 cals / min)

You can see a similar comparison to the weight training intervals above.  (Work) capacity can be defined as:

  • more work done in a static time frame (e.g. max calories in 10 min), or
  • a static amount of work done more efficiently / faster (e.g. body weight in calories for time).

The intervening months between the above 300FY trials consisted of 2 months of capacity training followed by 3 months of endurance training (backwards, I know).  It's a reasonable conclusion from the above tests that:

  • My work capacity has significantly improved, and
  • My current limiting factor appears to be strength.

... something I never thought I'd say!

Of course, that conclusion is relative.  The scores on the first two tests were close, and that was after 5 months of never lifting "heavy."  At any rate, cheers to holding (i.e. strength).

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TL;DR: Basically – you can’t work off that Big Mac, large fries and 72oz soda – diet first, then movement! Aerobic exercise is not a quick fix solution to all health problems. Instead of focusing on aerobic fitness, preventing metabolic syndrome should start with improving diet quality, which will h…

My response to the above:

"I agree with everything you said here, I’d add though that the two things that jumped out to me are:
1) The conclusion makes a lot of sense; if you’re less fat, you’re less dependent on aerobic fitness (alone) to reduce your risk of CMD; seemingly regardless of how you got there (in the kitchen, or being “fit” with other energy systems). It would be neat to see this repeated with say lactate threshold (capacity) or max force production (strength).
2) “V̇O2peak was consistently and positively associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in children and adults irrespective of the scaling approach” — needs echoed again!"

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