I recently posted the following article on my facebook page.
and it got me thinking that as trainers we already know that HIIT and the like is definitely more effective at fat burning than moderate intensity activities and I am really encouraged that mainstream media is getting the message out there to the masses.
These types of training methods are much more achievable at home or training on your own to achieve your goals instead of having to do the long cardio sessions keeping your heart rate within a range for fat burning and anaerobic training etc. I’m definitely all for more bang for your buck! Don’t get me wrong, the long cardio sessions have benefits and have been tried and tested training methods for decades and work extremely well especially if your goal is distance I worshiped the 70 – 80% heart rate range when I was triathlon training but if you’re stuck for time and want results then definitely HIIT training and Metabolic Conditioning is the sure fired way of losing fat, building muscle and increasing fitness.
There is an ever growing popularity of this type of training with Crossfit boxes opening up everywhere, big gyms chains opening up extra facilities (at a premium) that are specifically tailored to this type of training (see pic), Bootcamps in virtually every park. There is abundance for choice out there which is great.
Metabolic conditioning, also known as MetCon, is a method of training that involves a very high work rate, using exercises designed to burn more calories during your workout and maximize calories burned after your workout, or your afterburn. In other words, these are vigorous, high intensity circuit-type workouts that often involve challenging total body, compound exercises and very short recovery intervals.
MetCon is most recognizable in programs such as P90X, Insanity and CrossFit. Programs known for pushing the human body to its limits with fast-paced cardio and strength exercises to build muscle, strength and endurance. Plenty of people do these programs to get lean and lose weight, and most of them would tell you these are very advanced, very challenging workouts that aren’t guaranteed to make you cry, but there’s a pretty good chance you will.
There are different reasons we may try Metabolic Conditioning, including:
- Tactical Metabolic Conditioning for firefighters, military or law enforcement personnel, etc.
- Metabolic Conditioning for Performance – For example, a professional athlete might use MetCon to train for certain sports or events
- For Health & Fitness – This is where most of us will fall when trying MetCon, and our purpose? Is most often to lose weight.
The term metabolic conditioning doesn’t really describe a specific workout, but more a type of workout designed to challenge the two major energy systems that contribute to exercise.
Strength training often relies most on one type of energy system, ATP, which fulfills our immediate need for fuel. Moderate cardio uses glycolysis to fuel our bodies over longer, slower exercise sessions. Metabolic conditioning is able to target both of these energy systems in the same workout by using high intensity whole body movements along with a very short work-to-rest ratio. That means you go from one (killer) exercise to the other with little or no rest in between for certain intervals to tax your body, your mind and your energy systems. Some examples of exercises you might do in a typical MetCon workout include burpees, lunge jumps, pushups or bear crawls, just to name a few.
Whether you try MetCon is based on your goals, your fitness level and what you want out of your workouts. Programs like P90x, Insanity and CrossFit can help people lose weight – The sheer volume and intensity of the training will make sure of that. However, that kind of high volume and intensity is best left to people with a long history of exercise who can handle taking their bodies and training to the next level. Workouts that are too intense for beginners can lead to injury, burnout, severe muscle soreness and the strong desire to quit altogether. If you want to give Metabolic Conditioning a try scale it down in the beginning and work up. Find a program that is best for your fitness level and abilities and go for it.