Have you ever been in the middle of one of your routine workouts and wondered if it was possible to spend less time exercising and get the same result? Many of us want to stay physically active or even get more fit, but finding the time to invest in a 1- or 2-hour workout just isn’t feasible. Are long workouts and vast amounts of cardio the only way to burn calories? Is there a way to continue to burn extra calories throughout the day, even after your workout?
A metabolic workout, or MetCon for short, is a workout strategy that maximizes calorie burn both during and after your workout. Metabolic conditioning uses specific exercises to improve the efficiency of the body’s immediate, intermediate, and long-term energy pathways.
There are 3 energy systems (pathways) in the body that serve 3 separate purposes:
All three of these systems work together at times, but parts of the system take predominance depending on the body’s needs at any given moment. For example, if your hat is blown off your head by a strong gust of wind and you take off in a zig-zag sprint to chase it down, your body will utilize its anaerobic alactic energy system to fuel that high intensity, but a shorter burst of energy needed for a highly motivated sprint. In contrast, when you go on a long, brisk walk, your body will obtain its energy from the aerobic energy system needed for this low-intensity, longer-duration form of exercise.
Metabolic workouts, or metabolic training, provide various health benefits. It can improve the efficiency of the 3 different energy pathways (as listed above) in the body. One benefit is you can experience positive results from training exercises in a lot less time. It also helps burn more calories, resulting in faster weight loss. The calories keep burning, even after your workout ends, improving your cardio abilities. Metabolic workouts also build your muscles simultaneously – and having more muscles means burning more calories.
A key benefit to metabolic workouts is that your body continues to burn calories even after your workout. But how does it do that? Metabolic workouts bring on something called EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. What that means is that when the body’s oxygen consumption remains elevated after a workout, you burn more calories and fat even when you’re done exercising.
The best metabolic training exercises are strength training movements that target multiple muscle groups. Here are the important characteristics of a metabolic workout:
For your workout to result in tapping into your 3 energy pathways, thereby producing a metabolic workout, your workout must be comprised of all three of these things.
The most challenging part of a new exercise routine is sometimes knowing where to begin. I have always loved sharing some of my favorite workouts that get results – many of which are metabolic. These workouts use large muscle groups, make you breathless when you move through the circuits rapidly, and give you that muscle burn. The best part is that you can always continue to challenge yourself by increasing the amount of weight or resistance you are using in each exercise.
Even at my earliest fitness stages, I used kettlebells for resistance training, and I quickly understood the benefits of this type of exercise. I was not only able to maintain my weight, but I also began seeing muscle tone all over my body. Many kettlebell movements use large muscle groups and are done at speed tempo for cardio. The ability to easily increase the amount of your kettlebell weight will also give you that burn.
Click here for 3 Kettlebell Workouts for Weight Loss.
Try this 5×5 metabolic muscle-building workout. While this workout does use weight for resistance training, you can adapt to a metabolic workout by increasing the speed of your reps and moving rapidly from one circuit to the next. If 5 circuits are too much to set up or difficult to get through, remove 2 of the exercises and focus on 3 to start.
Click here for the 5×5 Muscle-Building Workout.
You may be closer to a metabolic workout than you realize. Now that you understand the benefits of the increased calorie burn and post-workout calorie burn, you can consider adapting your usual workout so that it meets the 3 components of a metabolic workout. If you’re already doing body resistance exercises like squats or lunges, add weight with dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. If you’re already doing resistance training with weights, lift weights faster and enjoy your calorie burn!
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