SESSION NOTES: Relative Stamina (469)

Complete two rounds of the required work, resting one minute after each set. Strict reps to failure, then kipping reps to failure.


Programming Science:

This session contains two upper body push based movements (each training different planes of movement) and two upper body pull based movements (each training different planes of movement).

The push movements and the pull movements alternate, which has two effects. Firstly, there is some degree of recovery between movements of a similar type to maximise volume. Secondly, there is a ‘blood shunting’ effect, where your body is required to deliver oxygen and fuel, and remove waste, from large and alternating muscle beds.

The ‘strict’ then ‘kipping’ movements are a form of ‘stripping’ or ‘drop sets’. To understand the value of this, it’s important to understand that a motor unit (a muscle fibre and its nerve) can either be ‘switched on’ or ‘switched off’ – it cannot be ‘half on’. To complete a strict repetition, a certain percentage of your muscle fibres must be ‘on’. By working to failure, you’re ensuring that these fibres are completely fatigued. However, there will be a percentage of fibres that still haven’t been recruited. Shifting immediately to the kipping movement (which requires less strength), will then fatigue some of the additional fibres.

The high intensity of these sessions means they will help to improve oxygen delivery to muscle beds using the anaerobic energy systems.

Health and Body Composition Benefits:

This session is a form of resistance training that provides a stimulus with lighter loads and higher volume than an absolute strength or power based session. While the high levels of fatigue in this session makes it less effective to increase strength and power, it will improve your stamina – the ability of your muscles to resist fatigue.

Often, higher repetition movements are neglected for the upper body (while walking/cycling etc are included for the lower body), but by including these higher repetition upper body movements, we’re helping to develop blood vessels in the upper body which will help reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

High repetition resistance training like this will also improve your flexibility (by going through a full range of motion), posture and coordination. It will also build stability around your joints and spine to give you a healthy musculo-skeletal system and reduce joint and back pain. These movements will also help develop tendon strength.

As a result of this style of session, you will experience changes in blood chemistry, including favourable effects on cholesterol, blood glucose, triglyceride and lipid levels.

In terms of body composition, higher repetition, lower load movements are an important part of an exercise program for increasing lean muscle. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, so increasing it will maximise how much energy your body burns at rest. This makes it an effective session to reach healthy levels of body fat, both visceral fat (around the organs) and subcutaneous fat (under your skin). After this session, your body will go through a prolonged state of ‘EPOC’ (excess post- exercise oxygen consumption), meaning you’ll continue burning energy long after you finish training – further aiding healthy body composition.

Performance Benefits:

The high repetition movements in this session train the ability of your muscles to resist fatigue – increasing their stamina. This comes from improvements in the efficiency of slow twitch (fatigue resistant) muscle fibres.

As a result of the volume of repetitions, this session will increase the mitochondrial density in your muscle cells, allowing them to more efficiently convert energy into fuel. This means you can sustain higher rates of muscle contraction before fatigue or failure.

The higher volumes will also increase capillary density in your muscles, allowing for efficient delivery of oxygen and fuel, and removal of waste products (further adding to the fatigue resistance).

The high intensities in this session will result in increased intramuscular substrate storage (increasing energy availability for muscle contractions) and increased enzyme activities (increasing the rate of energy delivery to the muscles).


To get maximal results from this session, there should be no strategy. Don’t try to preserve your stamina for the second round – we expect a big deterioration of numbers.

How it Should Feel:

This session will result in a relatively intense ‘burning pain’ in the muscles being used – particularly for a few seconds after each minute.

Scaling Guidelines:

The intent of this session is to achieve very high repetitions, so scale as required to achieve this. Scale the load (with some form of assistance) rather than the range of motion.

Modify around injuries with exercises as close as possible to the stimulus of the movement you’re modifying.

Common Mistakes:

This is a mentally challenging session – asking you to go to failure multiple times. Because of this, a common fault is to break the exercises before true failure (i.e., when it gets hard, not when you hit actual failure). The same applies with a premature transition from strict to kipping. Don’t switch to kipping when it gets difficult or when you think you’re about to hit failure, switch to kipping following actual failure.

Another common mistake is to not use enough scaling. We’re looking for high reps here, so use band scaling (or similar) to ensure that we’re achieving high enough reps to train stamina, not strength.