Nutrition
Everything You Need to Know About Metabolic Conditioning

Everything You Need to Know About Metabolic Conditioning

Metabolic conditioning refers to structured work patterns and rest periods designed to elicit a desired response from the body.

The desired response, in this case, is maximized efficiency of energy pathways.

When you are working out, your body gets fueled through three pathways; the immediate pathway, intermediate pathway and long-term pathway.

When energy is provided through the immediate and intermediate pathways, carbohydrates and creatinine phosphate are used for fuel.

In the long-term pathway, fats and carbohydrates are used to provide your body with energy.

Metabolic conditioning, or MetCon, is primarily based on exercise patterns that use the immediate and intermediate pathways.

From this article, you’ll learn every important thing there is to know about metabolic conditioning.

IS METABOLIC CONDITIONING THE SAME AS HIIT?

Everything You Need to Know About Metabolic Conditioning

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

MetCon describes exercises that range from moderate to high intensity.

Routines of MetCon exercises are designed to be completed within 20 minutes, and they specifically use immediate and intermediate energy pathways.

Their goal is to improve the aerobic and anaerobic systems of the body.

On the other hand, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises are intended to be done at a heart rate higher than 80% of your maximum heart rate, which is then swiftly followed by an active recovery period.

They are often very vigorous, with interval periods of about 20-30 seconds.

They are a form of metabolic conditioning, but not all MetCon exercises are HIIT.

METABOLIC CONDITIONING EXERCISES

For starters, these exercises must be done for a specific time with a specified degree of intensity to use the immediate and intermediate energy pathways.

Secondly, it is recommended that these exercises be done under moderate-intensity and high-intensity interval sessions for the body to burn fuel more efficiently.

There is a wide variety of exercises that can be included in a MetCon program, including upper-body, lower-body, full-body and cardio exercises.

There are many popular fitness programs designed to make use of metabolic conditioning. Examples are Insanity, P90X and CrossFit.

The good thing about MetCon programs is that they can be tailored to suit individual needs.

IS IT OK TO DO METABOLIC CONDITIONING EVERY DAY?

Due to their intense nature, MetCon exercises are pretty hard on the body.

It is not advisable to do them every day because overdoing them can overstretch muscles, causing muscle damage.

If you are a beginner, it is advisable to do it once a week or twice at most.

Once your fitness level has improved, and your muscles can handle high-intensity exercises comfortably, you can make it three or four if you’re confident you can handle the intensity.

All in all, there’s no accurate recommendation that will suit everyone. The number of times you should do MetCon exercises is a matter of choice.

However, in making a choice, you should consider your fitness level as recommended by research and perhaps ask your healthcare provider if it’s okay.

PROS

There are many benefits you can enjoy from a MetCon-oriented program, such as;

EFFECTIVE CALORIE BURN

MetCon exercises are designed to be performed at moderate to high-intensity levels.

Exercises are done at moderate to high-intensity levels increase your heart rate, which allows your body to burn calories more effectively.

IMPROVED METABOLISM

Muscles generally burn more calories than fat.

Since most weight training routines include MetCon exercises, they can help you improve your body’s metabolism.

INCREASED LEAN MUSCLE MASS

Research suggests that moderate and high-intensity training can reduce body fat percentage.

Because most weight training exercises enable MetCon, they can help you build more muscle as you burn body fat.

VARIETY

People enjoy MetCon workouts because there is a wide range of exercises that can be included in a single routine.

This makes it fun and engaging both to your body and mind.

LESS TIME SPENT AT THE GYM

MetCon exercises typically take a short time since they are designed to be completed within 20 minutes or less.

This means you can get to practice an effective workout without having to spend hours at the gym.

CONS

While there are a lot of benefits of MetCon exercises, there are also disadvantages that you should be aware of, such as;

INCREASED RISK OF INJURY

Since they are carried out with moderate to high intensity, MetCon exercises can put you at risk of sustaining external injuries.

A 2015 study found that most injuries sustained during fitness training occur due to overexertion of muscles during high-intensity exercises.

MAY REQUIRE GYM EQUIPMENT

Although basic MetCon exercises don’t necessarily require you to have gym equipment or a fitness trainer’s guidance, they can help enable you to create a more varied routine that will be more effective in achieving the desired results.

CERTAIN CONDITIONS CONTRAINDICATE IT

Exercise is generally regarded as safe for most people.

However, certain medical conditions can limit you to low-intensity exercises.

It is always advisable to check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new fitness program.

IMMUNE SYTEM SUPPRESSION

High-intensity MetCon exercises without enough recovery time between workouts can put you at risk of getting cold and other viral infections.

The reasoning behind this is that when you are under stress, such as when performing high-intensity exercises, your body produces cortisol hormone, which is a stress hormone with an immunosuppressive effect on your body.

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING OUT MY METCON WORKOUTS?

WORK-TO-REST RATIO

It is a general rule that lower work-to-rest ratios, e.g. 1:12 to 1:20, are ideal for building strength. Higher ratios, on the other hand, are better for improving endurance. Higher ratios in this case range from 1:1 to 1:3.

Intermediate ratios such as 1:3 to 1:5 are better for improving your performance of high-intensity activities.

This work-to-rest ratio approach helps in developing types of fitness training that involve resting periods such as powerlifting.

If you are looking to achieve maximum muscle mass with a high calorie-burning potential, an intermediate work-to-rest ratio of 1:3 to 1:5 would be ideal for you.

EXERCISE SELECTION

You’ve already chosen your desired intensity level and rest duration. Now it’s time to pick the specific exercises you are going to include in your workout routine.

There are two (recommended) ways to go about this: tag-teaming two exercises, e.g. squats and shoulder presses, or performing four or five different exercises as a circuit then resting when you finish each round.

You can also include kettlebell swings and medicine balls in your routine. They are highly recommended as effective standalone MetCon exercises.

FITNESS LEVEL AND INTENSITY

Your fitness level is a very important factor to consider before including high-intensity MetCon exercises in your workout routine, especially when they involve a short resting period.

Your fitness level will influence a lot of things, from your form to the results.

If you are a beginner who has yet to perfect your form, you may be prone to injury due to most of these MetCon exercises’ intense nature.

SCHEDULING

You may also want to consider at what point you should include these MetCon exercises in your routine.

As much as you can generally perform them at any point of your workout, it is best to do MetCon exercises five to ten minutes before finishing your routine for optimal results.

Just make sure you always warm up your body with some bodyweight moves or light cardio to prepare your body for those intense MetCon workouts.

TAKEAWAY

As much as metabolic conditioning is good for your body, you should avoid overdoing it, especially if you are a beginner with a low fitness level.

You may end up damaging your muscles permanently.

Instead, introduce it gradually in your workout routine, making sure you do it at an intensity proportional to your fitness level.

Finally, be sure to seek advice from your doctor before embarking on a MetCon fitness journey.

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