Can shorter, less frequent workouts actually be more effective than daily cardio? According to many fitness experts, the answer to this question is yes. The reason is the emergence of metabolic training, an exercise style that has fitness magazines, forums and blogs buzzing.
What Is Metabolic Training?
Simply defined, metabolic training (or metabolic conditioning, metabolic strength training) is a fitness program that aims to improve the metabolic processing of energy.
This means that metabolic conditioning trains muscles to work more efficiently, increasing functional fitness and calorie burn. The workouts involve performing resistance training exercises in quick succession to keep the heart rate high.
Doing this not only burns calories and increases cardiovascular fitness(sometimes referred to as cardiorespiratory fitness), it also helps to build lean muscle mass. In addition, those performing metabolic workouts continue to burn calories at an increased rate for days after each workout.
The result is a conditioning program that delivers better, faster results than most traditional fitness regimens. And, as everybody knows, with positive results comes enjoyment and enthusiasm.
Metabolic Conditioning versus Traditional Cardiovascular Workouts
When done properly, metabolic training is more effective than pure cardiovascular training. This is because metabolic workouts challenge the body to perform at maximum capacity by taxing all major muscle groups. By contrast, traditional, steady state cardio workouts are solely focused on maintaining the heart rate in the aerobic zone.
By performing high intensity, complex movements without giving their bodies time to adapt, metabolic workout participants create a greater oxygen debt in their muscles than exercisers performing steady state cardio. This heavy oxygen debt means that exercisers engaging in metabolic conditioning not only burn calories during the actual workout, but they also burn calories at an increased rate for 48 to 72 hours after each workout.
What Are The Benefits of Metabolic Training?
Because they combine resistance training and cardio into shorter, more effective sessions, metabolic strength training workouts can help even the busiest people to get into fantastic shape. The fast pace and variety of movements in metabolic workouts cut down on boredom and encourage people to stay with the workout program.
These same dynamic movements help participants to burn calories and build cardiovascular fitness at a rapid rate. In addition, metabolic workouts help exercisers to build lean muscle. Increased muscle mass helps to speed up metabolism so that the body burns more calories during workouts and at rest.
In addition to helping participants lose weight and build muscle, metabolic workouts also produce demonstrable fitness. Because metabolic conditioning emphasizes compound movements, each workout is a full body workout. This not only saves workout time, it also produces functionally fit individuals.
As a result, exercisers begin to experience increased energy and notice that everyday activities, such as maintenance, carrying groceries and other physical tasks, are easier to manage.
Types of Metabolic Training Programs
Fitness enthusiasts who want to start metabolic strength training have a variety of workout types from which to choose. In fact, it is possible to incorporate almost any type of exercise into a metabolic training plan.
A metabolic training session typically consists of timed sets of compound movements with short recovery periods between sets.
For example, a metabolic workout might have exercisers performing 30 to 60 second sets of exercises, such as jumping jacks, lunges, squats, push ups, burpees, crunches or other movements, with 15 seconds of rest between each set.
Popular workouts that use metabolic training principles include boot camp workouts, circuit training, suspension trainers, body weight workouts and other functional fitness workouts.
Starting a Metabolic Strength Training Program
Metabolic training programs are intense, so no one should jump into this style of training unprepared. Anyone who wishes to start a metabolic conditioning program should consult a doctor before beginning this intense physical training regimen.
This is especially important for those taking medications, battling chronic illnesses or who have more than a few pounds to lose.
Once cleared to begin, new exercisers need to proceed at a measured pace to avoid injury. Those new to metabolic workouts should consider enrolling in a class or hiring a personal trainer.
This will allow them to master proper form for all exercises. Poor form often leads to injury, especially when a person performs exercises at the rapid pace required by metabolic training.
The fast pace and high intensity of these workouts means that even seasoned fitness veterans can over-train when using them, so beginners need to be especially cautious. One or two short metabolic training sessions per week are more than sufficient for new exercisers. The most important thing is for novices to be safe while enjoying the benefits that metabolic training brings. Greater endurance and an increased tolerance for intensity will come with time and experience.