Soul Society hasn’t been serioulsly Bleach 540 threatened since the last Quincy war 1000 years ago. The only hollows that go outside of Hueco Mundo (not counting Aizen interference) are fodders and the Quincy were considered as good as destroyed. Ironically, the greatest threat to the Soul Society has been themselves.
When you don’t face immediate threat for a long time, you tend to soften. And that was more or less confirmed for Soul Society when Jura Bach told that the original Gotei 13 were bloodthirsty monsters. I can draw a parallel with the Night’s Watch from ASOIAF (Games of Thrones) which became a shadow of its former self over centuries (the Others/White Walkers’s threat becoming more and more distant).
So it doesn’t surprise me that the captains/VC didn’t train ‘seriously’ before the recent events. Things only started to change when Ichigo arrived in Soul Society and Aizen openly declared himself as the enemy.
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