You might have heard of ‘metabolic conditioning’ as this seems to be the latest hype in the fitness industry. But what does it mean? Some gyms refer to it as simple interval workouts whereas others translate it into complex circuits comprising of rope slams, medicine ball and kettlebell exercises. Who’s right? And what type of workouts are more effective in improving your overall strength and performance?
To put it simply, metabolic conditioning translates into patterns of exercises and rest periods to obtain the desired outcomes. The desired outcome usually refers to maximized efficiency of a certain energy system. Basically, the human body has got several ways of getting energy and different ratios of workout to recovery periods stimulate different energy systems and help obtaining different type of results. For example, if you are looking to gain muscle mass you should be having a different workout to rest ratio than someone who is looking to lose weight and get leaner.
You often hear that in order to achieve the desired results, you must get your metabolism working at a better pace. But what is metabolism? Metabolism refers to how our bodies manage to break down food for energy. Our food intake gets broken into small particles that are then used by our bodies and there are three main ways of how our metabolisms work.
The Immediate System
Also known as the creatine phosphate pathway, the immediate system is the quickest, most powerful way of getting energy. It mainly occurs when performing intense exercises that last less than 10 seconds, such as sprinting or lifting. The recovery time in this case is quite lengthy as the body needs time to recover after such an intense workout and it lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.
The Intermediate System
Also known as the glycolytic pathway, the intermediate system provides your body with energy for activities that last between 1 to 4 minutes. It is used for intense yet short workouts such as weightlifting or 400 to 800 m running intervals. The recovery period in this case ranges from 1 to 3 minutes.
The Long-Duration System
Referred to as the aerobic system, the long-duration system is used for easy and moderate intensity workouts that can last up to several hours, such as jogging or power-walking. The recovery period in this case takes as little as few seconds.
However, the best results are achieved with a mixture of the three pathways as all three of them have got different benefits and contribute in different ways.
How to Develop Your Metabolic Conditioning Circuit
As previously established, metabolic conditioning maximizes the efficiency of certain energy systems so you can perform better in your workouts and achieve the goals you have set for yourself. An amazing benefit of metabolic conditioning is the fact that you end up burning calories and fat even after the workout is completed.
Set up your goals and develop your metabolic conditioning circuit accordingly as its efficiency depends on the work to rest ratios. For example, if your goal is to be fitter for your weekend activities such as playing football or rugby, work in the intermediate pathway (20 seconds of workout, followed by 40-50 seconds of recovery time). If your goal is to improve your overall strength and core, you will achieve it by mixing long, intense circuits with short rest periods. Push yourself as much as you can throughout your workout as the intensity must be kept at maximum levels at all times.