Implement metcon training for exponential returns
The most effective way to blast calories, improve fitness, build muscle and enhance conditioning.
Forget those hour-long cardio sessions on the treadmill or stationary bike! Metabolic conditioning, or metcon training has emerged as one of the most highly effective forms of training ever devised by exercise scientists.
Defining metcon training
By definition, metcon refers to a type of conditioning of the muscles, through a high-intensity and high-volume based stimulus, that improves energy storage capacity and energy production by improving the efficiency of the different metabolic pathways, or energy systems.
To benefit from the full effect, it is best to use exercises that create the greatest ‘disturbance’ to your metabolic rate, which means performing compound, full-body or complex compound movements with little minimal rest taken between sets or stations.
These types of exercises work best as they engage your largest muscle groups, in addition to a number of accessory and stabiliser muscles with every exercise, with each performed against some form of resistance.
Why metcon works
The physiological response to this ‘metabolic disturbance’ is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), or, more commonly, the ‘after burn effect’.
This state is characterised by elevated heart and respiratory rates, as well as the heightened sweat response you experience directly after high intensity exercise as your body tries to dissipate the heat generated during these intense, all-out training sessions.
This rise in metabolic activity is needed to return your body to a state of equilibrium, or homeostasis. That requires the replenishment of depleted energy reserves, the repair of damaged muscle and connective tissue, and the removal of metabolic by-products that build up during intense training of this nature.
However, the number one role of EPOC is to lower your body temperature, which is why you’ll often hear seasoned and experienced gym-goers or fitness experts talk of the fat burning ‘furnace’ created after performing high-intensity exercise like metcons.
And the bigger the metabolic disturbance, the more energy your body will consume trying to return to baseline… This increased metabolic rate can last anywhere from 48-72 hours, depending on a number of factors, and can increase your metabolism by between 10-25% over that period. This equates to hundreds of extra calories that are burnt as you simply go about your day after your session.
Build more muscle
This type of training also elicits a favourable anabolic hormonal response, with increases in epinephrine, norepinephrine, growth hormone, insulin and testosterone released in excess during and after metcon training. These hormones aid the muscle-building process and help the body burn more calories.
Metabolic training also helps to improve your cardiovascular capacity and lactate thresholds. This
means that metcon training can also increase your VO2max – the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise – which the primary determinant of superior fitness.
If you’re after any or all of these benefits, then it’s time to implement some form of metcon training in your weekly routine. In part 2 of our metcon training feature we’ll look at popular forms of metcon programming in training that you can add to your weekly workout for serious results in half the time!