Bench Press 5-5-3-3-1-1
30 Bench Presses (bodyweight – scale to 70% / 50% / 30%)
20 Bench presses
10 Bench Presses
Why a couplet (back-to-back with two exercises) ?
When we talk about 'cardio' (we don't) or 'work capacity,' we're really talking about the metabolism of energy. A greater work capacity means the efficient metabolism of energy to meet the required demand. You go until you stop, and what stops you is the metabolism of energy. In other words, you can't refine the gas anymore.
Metabolism is a two-way street, requiring efficient movement of not only the gas tankers but also the garbage trucks. The energy has to arrive, and the garbage has to be removed for the next truck to pass through.
Systemic endurance – the ability to move the gas trucks – is present in longer chippers, less-than-maximal runs, and any workout where your pounding heart trips your emergency valve. The "whoa, cowboy!" feeling is systemic endurance.
Local muscular endurance – the inability to clear lactic acid fast enough to keep the gas trucks moving through – occurs in Fran. High-heart-rate, quads screaming…that burning napalm feeling is local muscular endurance, frequently brought on by anaerobic activity. Yes, you're out of energy, but not because you're out of gas; you just can't get the garbage cleared.
You need both.
Fred Hatfield used to use the example of carrying beer kegs up and down stairs. The aerobic athlete (jogger) could go up and down the stairs all day, but likely couldn't lift the keg. The powerlifter could lift the keg, and move it at a slow pace up and down the stairs. The powerlifter, reasoned the first man to squat 1000lbs in competition, was therefore more 'fit,' because the runner likely couldn't complete the task in the first place. This was before CrossFit became popular, of course.
Many powerlifters believe that they'll get really strong first, and then 'get fit' at some distant point in the future; that 'fit' will be easy, because they'll just carry the keg more often. I sure thought that way, and though I didn't have the powerlifting success of AJ Roberts, recent conversations with the man suggest that he believed the same. "Let's just get really strong," we thought, "and then we'll run around a little and take the title." After all, very few CrossFitters have a 520 deadlift (as I did,) let alone a 815 deadlift (as did AJ.)
This buffering of lactic acid takes years to develop. Many runners never do – they maintain a moderate pace, or add in a few hills, believing that the added "strength" work will push them faster. It may help get a few more gas trucks onto the scene, true. Adding a sports drink may also help. But what if no one's clearing the garbage away?
Local muscular fatigue is an important limitation to address – for the CrossFitter, for the runner, and for the powerlifter. Training both ends of the energy spectrum – heavy weights and long, slow distance – won't address the middle sufficiently to improve fitness.