What You Need in Every MetCon Session

Metabolic Conditioning is an important tool in fitness. It increases athleticism, improves physique, and increases work capacity.  Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon) improves general physical preparedness, increases athleticism, and conditions the body into improving the efficiency of its energy use and production.

With MetCons, you alternate short bursts of very intense exercise (such as 10-20 sec of sprinting) with periods of lower intensity (such as 1 min of walking).

  • The higher intensity periods create a metabolic demand that is very effective for long-term fat loss and overall conditioning.
  • The lower intensity periods let you recover and use the aerobic energy system.

Today I want to share with you the four things that MUST take place during your metcon workouts:

  1. YOU MUST LOSE YOUR BREATH. You have to be constantly attempting to catch your breath while conditioning (but can’t quite catch it). Period. You are aiming for 10-30 minutes of all out effort. If you can talk, you are not pushing yourself.  This aspect correlates with the degree of EPOC.  EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) or “after-burn”. Which refers to the elevated oxygen consumption after a workout is complete and can result in significant fat calorie usage for hours, and sometimes days.
  2. YOU MUST FEEL BURNING. You have to reach the point of metabolic failure. This is a term used to describe the need to stop because of an intense burn in the muscles (not because the weight is too heavy). This is directly related to the lactate generation and build up during the workout, which will trigger HGH (a hormone that aids in muscle growth). The amount of growth hormone generated from the workout depends on the intensity of the effort.
  3. YOU MUST LIFT RELATIVELY HEAVY. If you are not incorporating fairly heavily weighted movements into the workout, you are missing out on the full potential of your conditioning.  While bodyweight movements (air squats, pistols, pull-ups, push-ups, jumps, plyometrics, gymnastic movements) are beneficial, decently heavy weighted loads and movements executed in a dynamic and explosive manner recruits type II muscle fibers which will help trigger the responses needed to release doses of testosterone (another hormone responsible for muscle growth & fat loss). Lifting heavy weights with high intensity will lead to “mechanical failure” as opposed to “metabolic failure”.
  4. YOU MUST GET HOT. The final requirement is heat. If you are not sweating, your body is not getting hot enough which means you are not working nearly intensely enough. As a matter of fact, a surefire way to know if you are training hard enough is to use sweat as a “biofeedback tool” to see how sensitive your body is to this type of workout.  If you are not sweating in a workout, you are missing out on the heat component and you need to work harder.

Keep those four things in mind when doing these types of workouts: HEAVY BREATHING, BURNING SENSATION, HEAVY LOADS, and SWEAT (easy to remember right?).