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Metabolic Training: The Good, The Bad and The Truth

Metabolic training, what is that and is it going to hurt me?  I hear all kinds of crazy questions when people start talking about metabolic training or metabolic conditioning.  The most frequent question is, “what is it”?  In simplest terms it refers to exercises that will improve or enhance the body’s energy systems. For us at Acheive, we call it the “new” cardio.

Now you are probably scratching your head wondering what are the body’s energy systems.  The body has 3 of them, 1 aerobic system and 2 anaerobic systems.

Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen and anaerobic means without oxygen.  Aerobic activities involve low intensity exercises that are performed for 15 minutes or more…things such as biking, swimming and jogging.  Anaerobic activities involve moderate to high intensity activities that are performed anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes.

In the past if someone wanted to shed some excess fat on the body they would begin jogging.  Even today jogging seems to be the exercise of choice for fat loss.  Problem is you do not burn enough calories during the workout to amount to any substantial fat loss.  Met a runner who never really changed their shape? Or maybe someone training for a running sport who actually gained weight? More importantly jogging does not produce an EPOC effect, but moderate to high intensity training does.   EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) refers to the elevated state of oxygen consumption after exercise in an effort to bring the body back to its pre-exercise state.

In other words, not only are you burning far more calories during the high intensity workout (which could be only 10-15 minutes in duration compared to 30-45) you are going to continue burning calories for some time after the workout, your metabolism stays revved up.

Higher metabolism for a longer period of time = increased fat burning power!

I think anyone would be happy with that formula.  Workout less and reap bigger gains.  As with anything there is a catch, you have to work harder than you have probably ever worked out before.

A workout example:

Probably the easiest form of metabolic training is in the form of timed sets, such as 1 min of exercise followed by 15 – 30 seconds of rest.  This format would usually be repeated for about 10 – 15 minutes.  All the variables will be dependent on your fitness levels.  You might ask can this be used with traditional resistance training exercises.  The answer is of course, a lot of people call it metabolic resistance training.

You may have to go a little lighter for some exercises.  The idea is to work as hard and as fast (still with very good form) as you can for the entire minute.  If it was too easy up the weight, if it was to hard and you couldn’t finish the set drop down the weight a little.   The amount of exercises used per session can vary anywhere from 2 – 5.

But with anything in life…if you want to really take your results to the next level – it starts with a solid needs analysis and evaluation. Program design needs to be based on an assessment and a system. If you’re not assessing – you’re just guessing.

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