No Gym? No Time? Why Metabolic Conditioning May Be Right for You

Photo of woman doing sit-ups

Unless you worked with a personal trainer in the past, you probably never heard of metabolic conditioning. But after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down all of the gyms and fitness centers across the U.S., metabolic conditioning went viral, with at-home MetCon workout videos across YouTube suddenly getting thousands of new views. So what is it and why is it so popular?

Metabolic Conditioning: How It’s Different

Unlike traditional “steady-state” aerobic exercises — like jogging or cycling — where you work out at a fairly consistent speed for the duration, metabolic conditioning is an anaerobic circuit-type workout featuring short, intense bursts of effort with a recovery period between sets.

A real time-saver for busy people, typical MetCon workouts last anywhere from 4 to 30 minutes, and only need to be done 3 times a week.

Benefits of MetCon Workouts

Metabolic conditioning can be done anywhere, any time, with no special equipment needed. But this flexible, portable workout also boasts some major physical benefits as well:

  • Burns fat faster. Metabolic conditioning has been shown to burn fat faster and require a significantly smaller time commitment — as little as 30 minutes per week — than traditional cardio exercises like running, cycling or walking.
  • Fires up your metabolism. The molecular changes triggered by a MetCon workout actually stoke the fire of your metabolism and force your body to burn extra calories and fat for hours after your workout. By triggering a process called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) — also known as the “afterburn effect” — MetCon workouts have been shown to burn just as many calories over the next 24 hours as traditional steady-state workouts, but with less than half the exercise time.|
  • Releases HGH. MetCon workouts also trigger the release of HGH (human growth hormone), which is key to increasing muscle mass. This means that you’ll burn fat without losing lean muscle.
  • Increases free radicals. Scientists have actually studied the effects of a metabolic workout, and as it turns out, MetCon workouts prompt a major release of free radicals (which is great for fighting off rogue or roaming cancer cells) as well as molecular changes in muscle cells that cause them to adjust/increase their energy production.

Types of Metabolic Workouts

Fitness enthusiasts and personal trainers love MetCon — not only because it gets results FAST, but because there are just so many different types of MetCon workouts to choose form that you will likely never get bored.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
With HIIT, you can choose to focus on one specific exercise for the entire workout, or you can mix things up with multiple exercises. The point is to get your heart rate up to 85% of MHR during the exercise burst, then down to 65% of MHR during your active recovery period.

Some examples include:

  • Squat Jumps: Do as many as possible for 30 to 90 seconds. Then walk for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Stationary Bike: Pedal as hard and as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Then pedal at a slow, easy pace for two to four minutes. Repeat this pattern for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Running: After jogging to warm up, sprint as fast as you can for 15 seconds. Then walk or jog at a slow pace for one to two minutes. Repeat this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes.

Note: To get the most out of your High Intensity Interval Training workout, you’ll need a standalone heart rate monitor or a fitness tracker app with a built-in heart rate monitor.

Tabata is a sub-type of HIIT, but it’s a bit more intense. In a Tabata workout, you’ll perform each exercise as many times as you can for 20 seconds, followed by a short 10-second stationary “rest,” during which you have a chance to catch your breath before moving on to the next set.

This Tabata workout can be done in just 8 minutes, making it easy to fit into your busy schedule.


Metabolic Resistance Training
Metabolic Resistance Training requires some equipment, but if you have a set of dumbbells or kettlebells and a little floor space, you can easily do MRT at home. The biggest difference between MRT, HIIT and Tabata is that with MRT, you don’t get to “rest” until after you’ve completed an entire circuit — generally consisting of 4 to 5 exercises at 10 reps each. After each circuit is done, you can rest for 1 or 2 minutes.

This MRT workout is completely customizable. You can use lighter or heavier weights and perform more or fewer reps depending on your fitness level.


Be Creative and Make It Your Own

You can literally make up your own personalized MetCon workout using any combination of exercises that suit you, including squat jumps, push-ups, jumping lunges, sit-ups, burpees, mountain climbers … you name it. Just get moving and have fun!

Not sure where to start? Consider signing up for a fitness assessment and personal training with Robert Wilder, LMT, CPT, here at Apollo Chiropractic.