Get lean with met­con

Add meta­bolic con­di­tion­ing to your train­ing plan to ig­nite your fat loss ef­forts

Men's Fitness - - Updates -

What is met­con train­ing?

Meta­bolic con­di­tion­ing or “met­con” for short is a style of train­ing made pop­u­lar in re­cent years by the CrossFit com­mu­nity – although the style of train­ing it­self is noth­ing new. The term de­scribes short bouts of higher-in­ten­sity train­ing de­signed to in­crease meta­bolic de­mand and in­crease en­ergy us­age.

Need to know

“Ev­ery CrossFit­ter swears by met­con for the per­for­mance ben­e­fits for com­pet­ing and for the fat-loss physique ben­e­fits,” says PT Tom Wright.

How do met­con ses­sions work?

Typ­i­cally met­con fol­lows ei­ther a HIIT [high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing] for­mat with short pe­ri­ods of in­tense ex­er­cise fol­lowed by sim­i­lar length at a lower in­ten­sity, or cir­cuit train­ing with var­i­ous ex­er­cises per­formed back to back.

Need to know

“The goal of a met­con ses­sion should be to achieve and sus­tain a high ef­fort out­put over a short pe­riod of time, with as lit­tle rest as pos­si­ble be­tween work to make your body more en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient, or fit­ter,” says Wright.

How does met­con burn body fat?

Many stud­ies have shown HIIT to be su­pe­rior to steady-state car­dio for faster fat loss. Although more calo­ries are burned in a longer, lower-in­ten­sity ses­sion, to­tal fat loss tends to be greater when do­ing HIIT.

Need to know

“Met­con is great for fat loss be­cause of in­creased fat ox­i­da­tion, re­duc­tions in ap­petite, and the in­crease in mus­cu­lar adap­ta­tions and the sub­se­quent in­crease in lean body mass,” says Wright. “In short, do met­con work­outs and you’ll get lean.”

Are there any down­sides?

One down­side to the re­cent pop­u­lar­ity of met­con train­ing is that it’s of­ten mis­used – or mis­la­belled. Met­con should be used to take you to your train­ing thresh­old, with short rest times in or­der to im­prove meta­bolic path­ways.

Need to know

“Longer CrossFit work­outs like ‘Murph’ (one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 press-ups, 300 squats, one­mile run) aren’t met­con and tend to be overused, with trainees smash­ing them­selves ev­ery ses­sion,” says Wright.

When should I do met­con?

Be­cause of their short na­ture met­con rou­tines can be used as work­out “fin­ish­ers”. If you’re try­ing to drop body fat while main­tain­ing mus­cle, fo­cus on re­sis­tance train­ing with­out de­creas­ing the vol­ume of your work­outs, and add five to ten min­utes of met­con at the end.

Need to know

“Do­ing this three times a week will in­crease your meta­bolic out­put,” says Wright. “That’ll help you to get leaner over a pe­riod of a few weeks as well as in­creas­ing your fit­ness.”

What moves should I do?

If you have spent a lot of your ses­sion work­ing on pulling move­ments like dead­lifts and bar­bell rows, for in­stance, then do­ing met­con with ket­tle­bell swings and rower in­ter­vals would be a good choice be­cause they re­cruit the same mus­cle groups but with a dif­fer­ent stim­u­lus.

Need to know

“Al­ter­na­tively you could use met­con to work on ar­eas you didn’t hit in your main work­out – adding some push­ing, pulling or hinge­ing af­ter squats, for in­stance,” says Wright.

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