What the Hell Does Work Capacity Mean & How We Train It


The term Work Capacity in the strength and conditioning world is broad, vague, and generally poorly defined. You'll find plenty of similar terms - the Crossfit world calls it Metabolic Conditioning (METCON), some may call it Circuit Training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Anaerobic Training, and others may use it in the general context of conditioning. 

The most common definition stems from Mel Siff, author of "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"

If you've read previous articles here, the energy systems are broken into Phosphagen (Powers you for 0-30 seconds), Glycolytic (0-3 Minutes), and Oxidative (0-3+ minutes). Phosphagen and Glycolytic are grouped into Anaerobic energy pathway, while oxidative falls into the Aerobic pathway. 

These time zones are rough - each individual varies slightly due to genetics and training history. To make it more complicated, you are never truly using just one energy system... it's more of a mix of all three until you enter a steady state aerobic zone. Unless we're doing a sport specific program where the coach programs to focus on a particular energy system, our body will determine the appropriate system to fuel us. 

Rob Shaul, owner of Mountain Tactical Institute (and my former employer) has two of my favourite definition. 

"Work Capacity is where it all comes together – aerobic base, sprint cardio, raw strength, strength endurance and mental fitness."

"Combine more horsepower, increased strength endurance, and greater mental fitness and the athlete can do more in less time. Work Capacity is increased"

In other words, building the all-around engine known as our body to perform a challenging task(s), recover quickly, and stand ready to perform again.

Work capacity is the sum game - we don't care how much you can lift if you can't also move quickly or for long distances, and we don't care if you can run a marathon but crumple beneath a light external load. The combination and application of the various fitness attributes is what I would call general fitness. 

How We Train Work Capacity

  • Use of Planes of Motion

We utilize exercises which work through all planes of motion (Saggital, Frontal, & Transverse) during an individual training session. This develops a degree of athleticism employed during high threshold efforts by moving in all directions. Constant use of a single plane of motion can risk overuse injury, and may establish poor movement patterns out in the real world when you have to apply your fitness (sport, profession, chasing your toddler around the house). 

  • Focused Time Domains

While in a Work Capacity or Strength focused cycle, we will focus on one of three different time domain efforts. This includes:

5 Min + 5 Min + 5 Min: Short but high intensity efforts with 2-3 minutes of rest between.

10 Min + 10 Min: Slightly longer in total time volume, but able to still maintain a high intensity of work. 3-5 Minutes of rest between efforts.

20 - 25 Min: The longest duration efforts. I personally find these to be the most mentally challenging and requires strong intrinsic motivation to keep pushing hard through out the training. 

  • Assessment & Movement Driven Focus

Our Work Capacity cycles will have a total of four assessments. A assessment in week one and a re-assessment at the beginning of Week 4, followed by a second assessment at the end of Week 4 and re-assessment at the end of the cycle (Week 7). The exercises assessed are embedded into follow on training sessions. This allows us to see verifiable results. We could use specific progressions based on the exercise, but I've found those to get very boring, very fast. This is a nice middle ground. 

  • Varied Round/Reps/Rest Constructs

Work/Rest interval based training, EMOM density style, ascending and descending ladders, and AMRAP's - we use them all. This keeps the training fresh and challenging. 

  • Focus on Perfect Movement Patterns

This one is unnegotiable. All movements must be perfect to ensure athlete safety. If I see an athlete losing form, I'll have them stop and rest. The gym is the dumbest place you could possibly get hurt. Form is primary, intensity is secondary. 

  • Safe, Simple Movements

We don't use anything overly technical in work capacity training. No gymnastics, no snatch's, no kipping pull ups, no rapid-rebounding box jumps. 


Work Capacity is the sum game, but training it everyday can lead to serious burnout. I've experienced this first hand. During a work capacity cycle, we'll train it no more than 3x/week. This allows us to properly recover - both physically and mentally. Smart training extends our ability to do this over a long lifetime, not burn out like a shooting star through atmosphere. 



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Booze, Training, & Fitness: Impact and Mitigation


Summer is here, and with it comes the BBQ's, pool parties, sporting events, and whatever other social gatherings that nearly always revolve around America's favorite past time - drinking alcohol. 

Let me state this clearly - if you like to drink, party on. The mentality that booze is the great evil and antithesis of physical development is too black and white.

It's true - drinking hurts performance in the short term and continued overconsumption (particular as we exit our 20's) can lead to #gainz of the fat variety in the long term. 

If you don't want to read the rest of this, here's a few realistic guidelines for mitigating the effects of drinking:

  1. Don't mix your hard alcohol with sugary shit (soda, fake fruit juice, pre-made mixes).
  2. Drink water in-between alcoholic drinks to reduce the hangover.
  3. Increase protein intake during the day - preferably a real protein, but a shake will do.
  4. Resist the drunken hunger pains - they aren't real. 
  5. Don't drink Michelob Ultra unless you like looking ridiculous. 

How Booze Impacts Training & Performance

Given the need to promote protein synthesis that underpins adaptation, repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle the results of the current study provide clear evidence of impaired recovery when alcohol is consumed after concurrent (resistance, continuous and intermittent high-intensity) exercise even in the presence of optimal nutritional conditions. (Parr, Camera, Areta, 2014)

The biggest impact of drinking (specifically binge drinking) beyond the brutal hangover is its impact on the body's ability to recover and adapt following training.

A study by RMIT University in Australia explored how binge drinking affected training metrics for a group of collegiate student-athletes. The athletes followed their assigned strength and conditioning program, and then were fed these guys vodka and orange juice until they were at, or slightly above the legal driving limit in Australia.

Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training - Parr, Camera, Areta

Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training - Parr, Camera, Areta

Their findings reported a 37% decrease in muscle protein synthesis, which is critical to the recovery and adaption phase following any form of progressive training. 

The second group followed the same train + drink protocol but were provided a protein supplement immediately following training. This group reported a 24% decrease in muscle protein synthesis. 

What's this mean?

If you're going to go hard in the paint, ensure you consume additional protein before or following training to mitigate the loss of your body's ability to properly recover. You won't get as much out of your training, but it will help mitigate


What About One or Two Drinks?


Few things are as delicious as a beer following a hard workout. I've always felt a little guilty about it, thinking I was erasing the work I had just done.

Guess what? It doesn't matter. 

A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology measured the effects of drinking a vodka and orange juice (I don't know why this is the standard drink for physiologists) after a training session for ten males and repeated the test with no alcohol. The test subjects reported no change in muscular contraction force. No harm, no foul.  

If you're thinking that a beer after exercise will further dehydrate you, that also appears to be inaccurate. A seperate study compared the hydration of effects of a beer versus water after strenuous activity. 

Beer intake did not adversely affect any measured parameter. Fluid balance and urine excretion values did not differ between the rehydration strategies. (Jimenez-Pavon, Cervantes, Diaz, 2015)

Drink your beer and enjoy the beautiful feeling of hydration. Keep in mind, I highly doubt this rule applies after one or two adult beverages.


I'm Hungover Right Now - What Kind of Training Should I Do

First off, if you're hungover and still have the drive to train, you're a better man than I am. With the exception of one cumulative hangover from a bachelor party (screw you, Dan), I haven't had a serious hangover in a while. The one aforementioned bachelor party ruined me until Wednesday... and I got home Sunday.

If you are hungover, don't lift heavy weights. I repeat, do not lift heavy weights. Your body is in a state of a slow recovery as your liver processes out eight IPA's. Everything performance related will take a hit, but your strength/power will be the most severely effected.

Light loads, moderate intensity, aerobic base training is the way to go. This can be a run, or it can be something similar to the gym-based aerobic work we do here at LOD. 

Get moving, make sure you're drinking fluids consistently, and avoid the desire to go to Waffle House


Don't Get White Girl Wasted


This might be my favorite term in the lexicon. We've all seen or been the drunk stumbling out onto the street with the sole mission of finding the nearest late night pizza/pancake/burger joint.

Avoid this at all costs. Don't scarf down a day's worth of caloric intake in one greasy sitting. Despite what your mind is telling you, it's not needed. Go home and go to sleep - no one wants to talk to your drunk ass anyways. 

Enjoy the summer with your friends, family, and a cold one. Just do so intelligently and in moderation. 

Questions? Email






Parr EB, Camera DM, Areta JL, Burke LM, Phillips SM, Hawley JA, et al. (2014) Alcohol Ingestion Impairs Maximal Post-Exercise Rates of Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following a Single Bout of Concurrent Training. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88384.

Barnes, M.J., Mündel, T. & Stannard, S.R. Eur J Appl Physiol (2011) 111: 725.

Jiménez-Pavón D, Cervantes-Borunda MS, Díaz LE, Marcos A, Castillo MJ.
Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jun 6;12:26. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0088-5. eCollection 2015.




Getting Closer... Inch by Inch


Alright folks - we're making progress. I'm currently in the lease negotiation phase with a landlord for a  warehouse space in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. It's a more of a process than I originally expected, but then again I have no experience whatsoever with commercial real estate. 

Regardless, unless something goes terribly wrong, I should be signing a lease here in the next week or so. Exciting stuff.

I really like the space - it's small but shaped nicely for orchestrating and coaching an efficient class. It's also going to be a sweatbox, so you can sweat out those six IPA's with hints of mahogany or whatever they are supposed to taste like. Don't worry, we'll have fans for the primadonnas. 

We're keeping it simple on the equipment side... stand-alone squat racks rated to 1000lbs, dumbbells up to 100lbs, kettlebells, iron and bumpers, pull-ups bars, tires, and obviously a couple shake-weights for the military fellas who are preparing for deployment.

I have no intention to buy rowers but might look into a cheap assault bike as a substitute exercise for athletes who are banged up. Got a line on a used one? Let me know. 

Opening date is tentatively planned for April 16. If we're able to hit that timeline, then we'll have a BBQ for anyone interested the Saturday or Sunday before. 

Got someone in the Charleston area who might be into assessment based, periodized programming that'll develop athletic performance, deadlift more, and make you look better naked? Send them my way.

For those of you down here in the low country, Look for pre-registration sign-ups to hit in mid-March.

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Sign up early and you'll get a $free.99 t-shirt with this stud on the back, as well as your name as an official LOD OG (that means original gangster if you've never listened to early 90's rap before).

Online Programming

If you're following LOD and live elsewhere, this is for you. I'm currently building out the store to offer Line of Departure online programming via an affordable subscription. If I can figure it out, we'll have a tiered system where you have the option of... 

  • Daily Programming - the same programming we're doing at the gym. I already have built out to a year's worth of programming, cycling through strength development, power development, work capacity, and aerobic endurance.
  • Individual Plan Sales - Focused programming on physical endeavors or traits, if you know what you want to work on.
  • A combo where you get access to everything

Want a sweet t-shirt too? The first 20 folks to sign up for a multi-month subscription will get one. 

The takeaways

  1. The gym will be in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina. 10 minutes to the beach and 15 minutes from downtown Charleston.
  2. The target date for opening is April 16th.
  3. Online programming will be available soon
  4. You'll be able to pre-register 
  5. It's going to be awesome

Standby for more updates! 

Badass Lady of the Week - Freeskier Liza Sarychev

Badass Lady of the Week - Freeskier Liza Sarychev

This week I was lucky enough to talk with Liza Sarychev, a pro freeskier out of Jackson, WY as well as a professional mechanical engineer. Most importantly, she's just straight good people. I wanted to talk with Liza as she has found a great balance in pursuing her athletic passion as well as professional life. She's got an impressive resume and can do some crazy shit on ski's, so check her out. 

Top 5 Exercises You Won't See on LOD Athlete

Below is a list of some exercises you won't see in Line of Departure Athlete programming. For the most part, I exclude exercises for two primary reasons:

  1. Too time intensive to coach/learn AND a simpler alternative exists
  2. Puts the athlete at risk of injury without a worthwhile return in developing a fitness characteristic

It's nothing personal about these movements or those who like to do them. If you are really into into learning or progressing a exercise listed below, that's awesome. Take the time to get better at it and enjoy the moment when you get it. You just won't see it here.

It All Starts With The Deadlift

It All Starts With The Deadlift

These days, many athletes are familiar with the movements we most often associate with strength such as the Back Squat, Deadlift, Overhead Press, variations of the clean, etc. Let’s assume that we’re working with a new athlete is a relative novice to lifting.

To first assess a new athletes strength, I prefer the deadlift. Why? It’s such a simple movement - simply stand up with a barbell. Purists may cry out on the intricacies of the deadlift, but at the end of the day it’s just standing up with weight and a great measure of basic strength.

Core Values, Mission, and the Space Monkey

Core Values, Mission, and the Space Monkey

Line of Departure needed a mascot. An image or persona that captured the essence of the company. I wasn't sure where to start, but it had to properly represent what we're all about.

First, let me explain what this experiment at LOD Athlete is.

Working Around Injuries and When to Push It

Working Around Injuries and When to Push It

For anyone who pushes the body for performance or professions, injuries are inevitable. This is especially true for athletes in their late 20’s and 30’s - you can keep up with the young bucks, but you’re probably going to feel it more than they do the next day.

What can be difficult to determine is how to prevent it, how to work around it, when to scale back, and when to push through.

Boxing in Iraq

Boxing in Iraq

Two summers ago, a company of Marines, a platoon of Danish infantry, and a platoon of Army infantry stared into the desert of Iraq hoping for the hordes of ISIS to come running through the gates. 

This would become the home of Friday Night Fights.

Rank did not apply in this holy 'ring' of competition. A 19-year-old PFC could throw on a pair of gloves and challenge his team leader. The shit talker could be silenced by the unassuming Corporal. It was all fair game. Rifleman versus Mortarmen, Sniper versus Machine Gunner. It didn't matter. All were equal once they entered the ring.

Post Race Thoughts: 50k Ultra Marathon for the Meathead

Post Race Thoughts: 50k Ultra Marathon for the Meathead

32.7 miles, 7,875 feet of elevation gain, at 5,000-8,000ft above sea level. Mix that up with the incredibly beautiful landscape of Montana wilderness and just a tiny bit of wildland fire smoke, and you’ve got the HURL Elkhorn race.

After many hours of hiking up some serious mountains and running the flats and downhills, I’m still not sure if I’m a good endurance athlete, but I definitely got the gut check I was looking for.

Deconstructing the Sport: Stand Up Paddleboard Racing

Deconstructing the Sport: Stand Up Paddleboard Racing

Stand Up Paddleboard racing has exploded onto the scene all over the country in the past several years.With this first installation of ‘Deconstructing the Sport,’ we’re going to analyze the physical attributes of a successful SUP Racer and develop an outline of a training protocol to maximize performance on the board. 

Setting Strength Standards

Setting Strength Standards

Strength requirements differ depending on the athlete's pursuit. The Police SWAT Officer needs to be stronger than the competitive Stand Up Paddleboarder. The collegiate football player needs to be stronger than the track and field high jumper. We can break this down so that athletes of all varieties have the appropriate standards to ensure sport specific success, not gym-based success. 

50k Ultra Marathon Training for a Meathead

50k Ultra Marathon Training for a Meathead

I am far from an endurance athlete. I weight around 205 lbs. at 5’11 on a good day. When I’m training strength hard, I’ll get up to 215 lbs. My knees are in less than ideal shape after several ACL replacement surgeries. 

What in the hell would make me think that running a 50k ultra marathon race is a good idea?

What is 'Line of Departure Athlete'

What is 'Line of Departure Athlete'

The mission behind LOD Athlete is to serve as the sounding board for anyone and everyone who:

  • Rely on their body for their chosen profession.
  • Rely on their body for their sport, competition, or passion.
  • Believe that the domains of gym based training and real world physical demands are inextricably linked.
  • Believe that fitness in general leads to a self-confidence,positive relationships, and a higher sense of self-worth.