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Simple Workout to Build Work Capacity

In physics, work equals force multiplied by distance. Work capacity in the gym is your ability to get a lot of junk done and not die. Sorry for fancying it up so much but that’s essentially it.

Now imagine two different athletes. One is a 400 pound powerlifter who is really good at lifting one-rep maxes. The other is a scraggly ultramarathon runner who can jog for days. These two athletes are obviously representative of two extremes of human performance. The powerlifter’s capacity to lift crazy heavy things in a short window of time is high, while their capacity to maintain long bouts of cardio is very low. The opposite is true of our runner. These athletes are so specialized in what they do, they have willingly sacrificed abilities from the other end of the spectrum. And while you may want to specialize over time, building well-rounded capacity is important for what is called General Physical Preparedness (GPP). Think of GPP as less specialized training to broaden your base for future specialization if warranted. This program will get you using your full body, and serves as the middle ground of these extremes so you can build a bigger base, to then specialize and have more success.

The Program

Row, bike or air bike

Start with a 5 minute warm-up, slowly ramping up your intensity.

Next, perform intervals of 20 seconds sprint, 40 seconds at an easy pace for 5 rounds. Utilize a timer app with audio cues such as Interval Timer or YouTube videos with the right interval.

Circuit of compound movements

You will doing a 10 down to 1 circuit of these moves. 10 down to 1 means you will perform 10 reps of each movement, 9 of each, et cetera until you complete 1 of each on the last round. I like these descending rep circuits to accommodate for fatigue setting in, but still getting lots of good reps in. Warm up each movement as needed and set up a small area for your weights and room to perform the exercises.

Movement 1: Squat with no additional weight

Movement 2: Push-ups, use knees only if you must

Movement 3: Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings

Movement 4: Bent Over DB Rows

Don’t worry about having a super fast pace or doing all sets unbroken. If, for example, push-ups on your toes become hard as you get alter into the circuit, that is more than okay. Take your time and try to complete the circuit with the tougher variant. If you can make it through the entire circuit without falling off pace or having to break up sets into smaller chunks, you may not be challenging yourself enough.

Repeat the interval cardio from the beginning of the workout. Instead of a 5 minute warm-up, take 5 minutes at the end of nice easy movement for a cool-down.


There are a bajillion ways to program work capacity development, this is merely one option for you. Soon enough you would need a greater challenge than this and you may be able to extrapolate these ideas for some tougher workouts or use other styles. Either way, I hope this helps you build a stronger base of physical preparedness so you can better conquer what’s next!



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