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MetCon has become such a popular method of training, particularly among CrossFitters, that Nike now even have their own range of “Metcon” branded shoe range.

It stands for Metabolic Conditioning and has actually been around for over 40 years.

Here, Built for Athleten takes a look at the key features of a MetCon workout and what adaptations it provokes to get you fitter.

What Is A MetCon Workout?

The term metabolic conditioning was first used by Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus exercise brand who took a pioneering approach to physical fitness, in a 1975 article for Athletic Journal magazine.

At the time of the article, the common approach for improving the cardiovascular system was to do long-duration low-intensity training. But Jones’ method of metabolic conditioning required an athlete to work at an intensity close to 100 per cent effort - whether it be on a weighted circuit, a row or gymnastics - for up to 20 minutes with very little rest.

A typical MetCon workout performed in a CrossFit gym would involve a self-determined rest with the athlete choosing to take on the next set when they feel recovered enough to maintain proper technique, but a timed recovery period can also be set.

How MetCon Gets You Fit

High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a type of MetCon training, has been shown to increase VO2 max - the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise - by a huge number of studies.

Working at a high capacity also improves mitochondrial activity which is how the body produces energy on a cellular level.

There are also theories that pushing the body to its limits in training has a psychological effect of proving to the subconscious mind that it is able to work at high outputs and survive, resetting a central governor. Although such theories are hard to measure and prove in practice.

Using MetCon To Burn Fat

It’s popular to use metabolic conditioning workouts to aid fat loss. As the name suggests, the sessions do tend to increase metabolism because of the high work rate involved.

If cutting fat is your motive for doing MetCon workouts, it could be used in a period where you are returning to training after a period of rest or injury rehab.

A good way of putting it into your routine is to add a quick 10 or 15-minute MetCon circuit on the end of a workout.

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