Utilize Metcon (Metabolic Conditioning) Training To Your Advantage

Metcon Training

To put it most simply, metcon training essentially involves doing moderate to high-intensity activities in an effort to improve physical fitness.

Athletes often utilize this form of training as a tool to outperform the competition. And it has become increasingly popular as it’s a type of training commonly used in CrossFit.

This type of training definitely not for everyone but it’s a common form of training for those who desire to become endurance machines. Not to mention, it has been shown that high-intensity training burns tons of calories which results in more fat loss. 

So, let’s talk about metcon training and how you can use it to take your progress to the next level… 

Read: Equipment-free full-body HIIT home workout

How Does Metcon Training Work?

‘Met’ stands for metabolic while ‘con’ stands for conditioning. Metabolic refers to your metabolism which is the chemical process by which your body uses food as fuel to sustain life functions. Conditioning typically refers to the level of physical fitness.  

Muscle Building

But the mechanism/s by which metcon training is believed to work is a little more complex to explain as there are a few different pathways in which the process can occur. However, we’ll do our best to break it down for you most simply. (1)

So the body relies on a chemical called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to fuel muscle contractions during physical activity. ATP is produced from carbs, fats, and sometimes protein. 

And depending on the level/intensity of physical activity, your body can produce ATP with or without oxygen. There are a few different pathways in which this process occurs as mentioned previously. These pathways include immediate, intermediate, and long-term.

Here’s are a few points to understand how each pathway produces ATP in the body… 

  • Immediate – high-intensity activities 
  • Intermediate – Moderate-intensity activities
  • Long-term – low-intensity activities 

The body uses the immediate pathway to utilize your existing ATP stores. It can do this without oxygen. But with moderate to low-intensity activities over longer periods, your body will use oxygen in addition to the glycogen and fat sources for fuel. 

Therefore any type of activity creates a metabolic demand. But to what extent depends on the intensity and duration of the chosen activity. 

However, because not everyone is at the same level of training experience, it’s typical to work up to a higher intensity/duration. As a result, you’ll see improvements in metabolic conditioning.

How To Benefit From Metcon Training

There’s no one-size-fits-all metcon training routine. It’s either typically done using high-intensity activities with equal low-intensity periods in between, or moderate-intensity activities performed for a longer duration. You can also do circuit training routines and improve metabolic conditioning. 

Fat loss

If your goal is largely fat loss, opt for high-intensity interval type training. Research shows that doing a form of high/elevated-intensity training increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC (“the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to its normal, resting level of metabolic function“). (2)

This process allows your body to continue burning calories following physical activity which can result in weight/fat loss if your other habits are up to par. High-intensity is more effective than moderate-intensity training for maximizing this process.

Plus, it’s the best way to burn the most amount of calories when short on time. 

In addition, resistance training activates the anaerobic pathway which also has a significant fat loss effect. Not to mention, you’ll build muscle which has so many physical and mental benefits.

Related: Advanced 13-minute bodyweight workout (no equipment needed)

Strength and muscle-building

For building strength and muscle, we highly recommended doing compound exercises that utilize several muscles during a single movement. For example, the deadlift works the entire posterior chain in addition to the core and other muscles as well.

This is a better option than the leg curl machine or the lat pulldown for fat-burning and strength training. It also works the muscles more functionally which has a lot of carryover into real-life activities. 

Exercises such as kettlebell swings, burpees, rowing intervals, jump squats, etc, are also great options to include in your training. 

But experiencing the benefits of metcon training does not have to be this complex process. In fact, it’s as simple as choosing one, two, or three exercises and gradually increasing your effort until you become better and better at your performance. 

Example Metcon Workouts

Not sure where to start? Here’s an example routine for beginners and intermediate to advanced exercisers… Note: Warm-up before each workout by doing some light cardio activity. 

Beginner workout

Perform 4 rounds of the following workout and take a 45-second rest in between rounds.

  • Burpees x 8-10 reps
  • Air squats x 20 reps
  • Mountain climbers (fast-paced) x 20 seconds

Intermediate-advanced workout

Perform 4 rounds of the following workout and take a 30-second rest in between rounds. Use a challenging weight.

Kettlebell Swings
  • Kettlebell swing x 12 reps
  • Air squats x 25 reps 
  • Two-arm dumbbell snatch x 10-12 reps
  • Jumping pull-ups x 20 
  • Mountain climbers x 20 seconds

How Often To Do Metcon Training? 

This depends on the individual. Some people may feel run down doing a metcon routine three times per week while others can do 4-6 day per week training. However, the advantage is that high-intensity for a short duration is often a preferred training method for experiencing great results without overtraining. 

Start slow and listen to your body but also make sure you’re eating and hydrating properly while getting enough sleep to recover for the next session. 

How To Progress With Metcon Training

There are several different ways that you can progress with this style of training which include…

  • Increasing the weight
  • Adding more reps
  • Improving the training intensity
  • Decreasing the rest times
  • Doing circuit type training
  • Choosing harder exercises

As with any form of training, there’s always a way to make it more challenging. Use a combination of the above methods to continue making progress. Although, do it slowly and work your way up. This will ensure your body can adapt properly while preventing injury. 

Wrapping Up

Metcon training is and will continue to be used by people looking to improve many aspects of their physical fitness. This form of physical activity is effective for burning fat, improving endurance, and even building muscle.

Plus, it keeps things interesting so that you’re not doing the same routine all the time. But how you do it depends on your experience level and goals. However, it can benefit anyone.


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