– Metcon = Metabolic Conditioning
– Metabolic Conditioning = elevated cardiovascular stress + moderate to heavy strength efforts all the while switching between metabolic pathways/energy systems.
What are these energy systems that I speak of?
I’ll tell you.
First you must understand that all of these energy systems supply ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which you can think of as our “energy currency”, the energy systems differ in the manner in which they produce ATP, and the speed at which they supply it.
1. Phosphagen (ATP/PC) – The most short term and high intensity exercises rely on the Phosphagen energy system. Activities that only take a few seconds, but require large amounts of ATP very quickly, such as swinging a baseball bat, or a performing a high jump, rely on the lending of a PC (phosphocreatine) molecule to ADP (adenosine diphosphate) to produce ATP. Since our bodies (muscle cells) store only very limited amounts of PC, the total amount of ATP we can produce at one time is inherently very limited as well.
2.Glycolysis – Once your CP stores are depleted your body turns to the breakdown of glycogen or glucose (carbohydrates) to produce ATP. This is still anaerobic like the phosphagen energy system, meaning it can still be done without oxygen. Glycolysis produces ATP rapidly, just not as rapidly as the phosphagen system, and is also responsible for lactic acid build up.
3.Oxidative (aerobic) – This is the most complex energy system, and opts for fat as the primary fuel source (fatty acid oxidation). Any sort of endurance event takes advantage of the oxidative energy system.
So metabolic conditioning is really any type of training aimed at improving the efficiency of all of these metabolic pathways.
Now, who is metcon appropriate for?
Remember, how you train should always be a direct result of what YOU are training for!
People too often make the illogical assumption that everybody is training for the same thing. That’s silly.
What is most appropriate for you, may not be most appropriate for me, may not be most appropriate for a professional power-lifter, and may not be most appropriate for a marathon runner.
Now if you are training to be a competing strong man, should you put a hyper focus on metabolic conditioning?
I’m not even going to answer that…
But what if your goal is to shed body fat?
Then metcon will be your best buddy. The hormonal and metabolic benefits of training at such a high intensity that our pal metcon brings are unrivaled for rapid and long term fat loss.
Who else could greatly benefit by incorporating some hot sweaty metcon into their routines?
1. Martial Artists – if you are a fighter and are not incorporating some serious metcon into your training regimen, then your performance is ultimately not what it could be. You know the feeling… the amount of mental toughness it takes to survive a fight and maintain “poise under pressure”. Metabolic conditioning is the closest thing to “actually fighting” that you can incorporate into your routine.
2. Any Other Sort of Competitive Athlete – Look, it’s strength AND conditioning. Not strength OR conditioning. So if you are going to condition, then condition right. Every athlete needs conditioning, and metabolic conditioning delivers unlike anything else. Look, sprints are great, and love (and loathe) them as much as the next guy. But the beauty of metcon is it allows you to push past your normal work capacity by switching between muscle groups and energy systems, allowing you to keep the system working and under stress for longer periods of time – which is a good thing. Trust me.
3. Police Officers, Firefighters, and Military Personnel – anybody who is unsure in what way their physical abilities may be called upon need to utilize metabolic conditioning, at least some of the time, in order to prep them for just about anything.
So, what does metcon look like?
Glad you asked. It ain’t fun, and often times it ain’t pretty. But that doesn’t mean to push on with terrible form. Remember, half of the benefit of metcon is mental conditioning, and learning how to maintain poise under pressure.
For me, I love to utilize kettlebells for my metcon work. You can’t beat the ability to flow with them effortlessly from movement to movement.
Below I have compiled some of the sickest, nastiest, and downright dirtiest metcon routines known to man. I hope you enjoy them. Because I didn’t...
P.S. – For more on metcon – go order a copy of my Power of Complexes eBook