What is Metabolic Training (MT)?

Metabolic Training (MT) is the new buzzword in fitness. However, it is not a buzzword to be taken lightly. In essence, it is a fat loss and fat burning tool you should be using two or three times a week. Metabolic training is used in our advanced bootcamp classes here in Oklahoma City and Edmond. Once a basis of fitness is reached, students can participate in metabolic training classes.

Metabolic training is a combination of training styles and methods done in a back-to-back fashion with minimal to no rest between movements. These can be performed in circuits for an entire routine, or at the end of your usual workout to fan the fat burning fire.

Metabolic training uses ideas from every aspect of exercise to to burn fat at an incredible rate. Resistance training, body-weight training, calisthenics, plyometrics, kettlebells, and just about anything else can be thrown in to a metabolic circuit. Perhaps the best thing about MT is you don’t need any equipment at all to get a very demanding workout. I prefer to throw in items like light dumbbells or kettlebells in to the circuits for some strength training. Weights also add to your fat burn which is what MT training is designed for.

MT sessions move along quickly and are short bouts of intense work followed by short recovery periods usually measured in seconds, not minutes. I guess you could call this a hybrid of Interval Training which usually has longer rest periods between your peak moments.

Our recent review of Rushfit from Georges St-Pierre and his trainer Eric Owings has a LOT of metabolic training in it. You can check out that review by visiting Georges St-Pierres Rushfit MMA DVD Workout Review.

For most, MT training is out of their comfort zone. People have been preaching the ‘burn zone’ and other steady state cardio myths for years. People like putting in the 45 minutes on the elliptical or treadmill. For me, that’s just plain boring and hard to maintain over time due to the boredom. I find myself trying to get out of going to the gym instead of doing steady state cardio. It does have its place on recovery days, but for fat loss, steady state has taken a backseat to MT.

Metabolic Training is vastly superior to steady state cardio for three reasons.

1. You reduce your risk of overuse injuries from repetitive movements (i.e. Plantar Fasciitis).
2. Burn MORE calories during and after exercise.
3. Cuts your workout time in half.

EPOC expenditure after a metabolic session can burn fat for up to 48 hours AFTER you stop exercising. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, informally called afterburn) is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity intended to erase the body’s “oxygen debt.”

Science journals such as the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport, The European Journal of Physiology, The Journal of Sports Nutrition, and The European Journal of Applied Physiology have shown research that prove MT provides a nice afterburner effect.

Top trainers, such as strongman Chad Coy who uses the BodyBugg and other calorie counting tools to measure his clients calorie expenditure claims he has not seen 48 hours of EPOC, but up to 4 hours at an elevated rate. This seems to prove the afterburner effect as well. However, I have to believe the burn lasts much longer because your body is forced to adapt to this new type of strain you are placing it under. From my personal experience I know my body asks for more food for two days after an MT session.

How do I use Metabolic Training?
Starting out I recommend you do a nice long dynamic warm-up that consists of similar movements to what your MT program will contain. This will get all the muscles synergistically ready to perform through an entire range of motion. Examples would be air squats, lunges, pushup rotations, jumping jacks, and jump rope. Get nice and warm through a full range of motion.

Time your sets.
Instead of reps in our sets, we go for time in metabolic training. I recommend you buy a programmable GymBoss timer. The GymBoss will allow you to setup your timing so you know when to exercise and when to rest. Better yet, come to one of our Oklahoma City or Edmond bootcamps and let us time you.

Recommendations for time are the same for everyone if you are new to this type of training. Keep in mind, this will be extremely intense and you are asked to give 100% for the full time.

Level 1: 30 second cycles of exercise, 30 seconds rest between exercises. Complete a full circuit and then rest for two minutes. 4 movements per circuit, 2 circuits maximum.
Level 2: 40 second cycle of exercise, 20 seconds rest between exercises. Complete a full circuit and then rest for one minute. 4 movements per circuit, 4 circuits maximum.
Level 3: 60 second cycle of exercise, 10 seconds rest between exercises. Complete a full circuit and then rest for one minute. 5 movements per circuit, 5 circuits maximum.

What types of exercises should be used in MT?
Compound, multi-joint, full body movements are the best. Burpees, tuck jumps, hip thrusts, dumbbell clean and press, dumbbell push press, one and two-hand kettlebell swings. The selection is endless, just make sure you use compound movements and stay away from linear movements such as a bicep curl. We are trying to get the body parts all working in unison.

What kind of load should I be using?
Keep your weight relatively light and controllable. If you have issues handling the weight and/or performing the exercise with proper form you need to drop weight or remove it entirely. If you can’t do even light weights with proper form, you need to regress to a movement that you can do. Build up your strength and coordination and only then progress up to weights.

How often should I use Metabolic Training?
Maximum of two full MT workouts a week. If you are tossing in a finishing MT circuit then you can do two to three times at the end of your regularly scheduled workout.

MT training can be quite beneficial when added to the end of a regular strength training workout. Shoot for a maximum of one 10 minute circuit if you are adding a MT circuit to the end of an existing strength workout. Be sure you are thoroughly warmed up for full body exercises. If 10 minutes is too much, start with 4 minutes and add two minutes every week until you hit ten.

Metabolic training is difficult but extremely rewarding. When you are done you know you gave all you had and that is very satisfying. Your belly will also thank you for it. Come see our trainers at our Edmond or Oklahoma City bootcamp locations to get a healthy dose of MT training.

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