Metabolic conditioning workouts, which are also referred to as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) teaches the body to access energy stores effectively during and after a workout. These workouts consist of lifting moderate to heavy weights or performing calisthenics in sets with targeted timed recovery breaks.
This style of exercise elevates the heart rate quickly, adding a cardio component to the strength training regimen and causes the body to burn fat rapidly.
How Do They Work?
The body accesses energy based on the activity being performed. There are rapid, moderate, and slow energy-burning modes within the metabolism. Metabolic Conditioning activates them synchronistically to maximize caloric burn.
Power exercises, which are performed quickly (10 seconds or less), utilize the creatine phosphate pathway to supply the body’s energy needs. Directing a lot of energy quickly to perform this type of exercise. For example, a power lift, like the clean and jerk, is very demanding. The intensity of the activity requires a longer recovery time of about three to five minutes.
Intense activities of short duration, one to four minutes, access the glycolytic pathway. Examples of activities, which activate this energy pathway, are lifting weights and running 400m to 800m. Recovery time for this energy pathway is one to three minutes.
The aerobic energy pathway is the one most discussed and best understood by the average person. It supports activities of easy to moderate intensity. This energy pathway draws on stored fat cells to fuel the body’s activities. It can engage for hours. The rich fuel source of this energy pathway, fat cells, means its recovery time measures in seconds.
The variety of exercises involved in a Metabolic Conditioning workout, the level of intensity applied to them and the duration of recovery periods determine which energy pathway becomes activated. The objective of the exercises in a given session also determines the recovery period allowed for each exercise.
For example, doing bicep curls with low weight but high repetitions will access the aerobic or slow burn pathway. Since the objective of this type of workout is to keep the body in an adaptive mode, all of the energy pathways become engaged at some point during the workout.
Metabolic Conditioning workouts can be crafted to maximize desired outcomes: weight loss and fat burning, muscle growth, improved speed, power or endurance. They also provide faster results, because they apply knowledge of the body’s energy systems strategically.
Work and rest ratios should be applied to ensure the desired results:
Objective: Improve power
Focus: creatine phosphate pathway
Work to rest ratio: 1:10
Objective: Improve sports performance
Focus: creatine phosphate pathway
Work to rest ratio: 1:2
Objective: Improve endurance performance
Focus: aerobic pathway
Work to rest ratio: 4:1
Objective: Burn body fat
Focus: targets the creatine phosphate and aerobic pathways
Work to rest ratio: 1:2 and 3:1 workouts each performed once a week
Creating A Workout
Creating a workout is pretty straightforward. For example, weighted squats for power-performance would be performed for 10 seconds followed by 1.5 to 2 minutes of rest. Three more power-building exercises, plyometric jumps, broad jumps and plyometric push-ups, would follow to form a circuit; each of the exercises would be completed with the same work to rest ratio. One set of all exercises included in a session forms a circuit. The circuit is usually completed 3 to 4 times.
Implementing Metabolic Conditioning Workouts
Metabolic Conditioning must be done at least two to three times per week to see results. This approach to exercise activates all three of the body’s energetic pathways during one workout. It is this component of the workout, which makes it so effective.
In addition, the post-workout calorie burn associated with these types of workouts last up to 36 hours following exercise and that is what makes this type of workout routine one of the best choices for burning fat. The workout needs to include 3 to 4 exercises performed in sets based on time intervals with energy pathway-based recovery times.
These are intensive workouts and not ideal for beginners who should take care and work up to the fitness level required to perform them. It is also important to check with your doctor before starting this type of fitness routine. While they are intensive, their effectiveness and results they provide from very short sessions of exercise make the effort totally worthwhile.
Sample workouts are widely available in fitness forums, online, on workout DVDs, and in magazines.