The aim of a metabolic conditioning circuit is to increase the performance of your muscles when using a specific energy system.
The energy systems are best known as metabolic energy pathways, and all contribute to supplying our muscles with energy. With metabolic conditioning (MetCon), you focus on improving one of these energy systems, enhancing the supply of fuel to the muscles, meaning more energy.
To increase performance, each MetCon workout should have different work/rest times to improve each metabolic pathway. For example, a circuit filled with explosive exercises would be centered around short work intervals and long rest intervals, your body working anaerobically; highly beneficial in improving fast twitch muscle fibres and their acceleration. E.g, for olympic lifts or 60m sprints.
The 3 Energy Systems.
Once you understand what each energy system does, you can construct a workout based on your goals and acheive specific results.
There are three energy systems, each used at some point during a training session, however one system is primarilly used, depending on the intensity of the workout, the length of each repetition or interval and the rest time between each. To contract our muscles, the molecule Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) must be present, it being produced by different energy sources when using each metabolic energy pathway.
Using a select work/rest time for each exercise we can use MetCon to directly target one of these energy systems so that ATP is produced quicker and more energy is available for our muscles.
Creatine Phosphate – Used when exercising in short intense bursts of no more than 12s such as 100m sprints or powerlifting. Here the body uses the molecule creatine phosphate to create ATP and no oxygen is used. Aim to exercise for less than 12s and rest for 4 mins.
Glycolytic – This is sometimes called the lactic energy system, glucose is used as fuel and lactic acid is left as waste product. Glycolysis is the process where blood glucose and glycogen (stored glucose) is broken down to produce ATP. Sports such as rugby and football use this energy system, being full of repetitive intense sprints. Aim to exercise for 20-40s and rest for 1-3 minutes depending on the intensity of the work interval.
Aerobic – Here oxygen is used to break down firstly carbohydrates and secondly fats to be used as fuel for low-intensity, long bouts of exercise, ranging from minutes to hours as long as we don’t run out of fuel. Once all our reserves are depleted your body can go into a catabolic state, where our muscles start to break down and be used as an energy source. Branch chain amino acids can be used to prevent this, BULK POWDERS™ Informed BCAA™ powder is a great choice. For aerobic training, think of the type of activity you want to improve on, for example for improving endurance running over 10km, use your personal best (PB) time as a guide. If your PB is 1hr, then try 2 x 30 mins intervals at a low intensity with a short recovery time.
Improve your Pitch Performance.
Here’s a metabolic conditioning circuit to target the lactic system, perfect for sports such as rugby, football and middle distance running. Using these explosive exercises, you’ll build speed, power and the ability to recover quickly.
MetCon circuit for the lactic system.
Perform each exercise for 45 seconds and rest for 30-45 seconds before moving onto the next.
Repeat circuit 3 – 4x
To target a different energy system, simply change the work and rest times accordingly, for example to improve the aerobic system, try a working time of 5 minutes and a rest time of 30 seconds – you’ll need to lower the intensity of course so reduce the weight!
Remember! MetCon is all about manipulating the work and rest times to achieve specific results, the exercises can be changed but try to stick to the work and rest times highlighted in this article!
Try these supplements to support your MetCon.
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About the Author
Dejan and Jonny are both fitness professionals stemming from a vast sporting background. Based in London they are the founders of ‘LetsTrain’ – an online, forward-thinking, fitness and nutrition resource.