Are you utilizing Metabolic Conditioning?

by Mar 14, 2020Workouts

A few weeks ago we talked extensively about Kettlebell Swings. (I disappeared into a mental abyss for a little bit.) I provided a quick but challenging workout that you can do. I mentioned it’s great for metabolic conditioning but I want to dive in a little bit more.

I love strength training! Picking up heavy shit makes me feel like Wonder Woman. What is picking up heavy objects, if you can’t move them any giving distance? I’m actually talking about Obstacle Course Races, but it can pertain to other activities as well.

Running in winter

In addition to my strength training days and cardio, I love working with my trainer on my conditioning. I want to be able to move fast, efficiently, and explosively. I want to be able to handle a strenuous, unstable activity at any given moment just like an American Ninja Warrior.

Metabolic conditioning is a series of exercises that improve the body’s ability to store and deliver energy efficiently. It is ideally working at maximum intensity for a prolonged period of time.

The discovery of metabolic conditioning is fairly new first recognized by Arthur Jones back in the 1970’s. He realized that an athlete can have immense strength and great cardiovascular endurance. But when married together, an athlete could only work at maximal intensity for a very brief period of time. He created a study using 100 military cadets of the United States Military at West Point, New York.

“In a period of less than six weeks a group of 19 football players increased their strength an average of approximately 60 percent… that’s right, 60 percent, an average increase of 10 percent per week, a rate of strength increase previously considered to be literally impossible by most experts. And it must be clearly understood that these test subjects were not average subjects; instead, they were highly conditioned football players who were already quite strong at the beginning of the special training program; subjects with an average height of just below 6 feet, 2 inches, and an average weight well in excess of 200 pounds.

Flexibility and Metabolic Conditioning- Arthur Jones

Metabolic Conditioning or more recently coined MetCon, is designed to work by keeping the pulse rate and breathing at a very high rate for an average of 20 minutes as opposed to 1 minute. It is designed to work the person through a set of exercises within the seven to twelve rep range with momentary muscle failure and just enough rest to recover and continue to the next set or exercise.

It will create an oxygen deficit known as EPOC that will keep your body burning calories long after your workout is over.

So How Do I Create a METCon Workout?

There are so many ways to create a MetCon workout.

  • Resistance Based
  • Cardiovascular Based
  • Hybrid
  • Peripheral Heart Action
  • Upper/ Lower split
  • Bodyweight/Equipment
  • Timed
  • Completion

Previous research has shown that the metabolic conditioning sessions of functional-fitness training resulted in increased acute oxidative stress; high metabolic, inflammatory, and cardiovascular responses; elevated perceived exertion; and increased sympathetic nervous system markers
(i.e., plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine).

It would be amazing to train using METCon as designed for an athlete. However, let’s take it down a notch and talk about how this applies to the novice or beginning gym goer. Circuits and HIIT fall into the realm of METCON. If your not sure what HIIT is you can also check out this post, “High Intensity Interval Training.”

The goal should be about 15 to 20 mins. Usually three to four exercises will suffice as long as your putting in 75-85 percent intensity. Keep the rest to just what you need to recover and continue. So rest periods should be about half of the work period to start. I can usually squeeze in anywhere from 3 to 5 rounds depending on the type of exercises. However, It’s been suggested METCon shouldn’t be done more than twice a week if done as a full workout. You can also add it to the end of a strength training workout.

  • 15 to 20 Mins
  • 3 to 4 Exercises
  • 75-85 Percent Intensity
  • Rest Ratio of 2:1
  • 3 to 5 Rounds
Toddler doing pullups

METCon is an amazing tool to add to your workouts. It can will increase both your strength and endurance by improving how your body stores and uses energy more efficiently.

You can check out my Instagram for more ideas on workouts. Also don’t forget to follow Cherry Fitness below.

Do you use METCon often? How do you like? Leave a Comment below.

Cherry G.



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