HOW TO USE METCONS FOR PACING DEVELOPMENT

HOW TO USE METCONS FOR PACING DEVELOPMENT

It’s one thing to tell a client to pace their exercises or workouts properly. It’s another thing entirely for that same client to navigate through training pieces effectively on their own.

Teaching clients to manage their workout pacing to create sustainable and repeatable efforts can be challenging for any coach who lacks the right tools. Despite the challenge, developing this self-awareness and autonomy in clients is incredibly valuable.

The biggest challenges for clients are: 

  1. Knowing how to extend their energy reserves to fight off fatigue within different time frames 
  2. Muscle endurance fatigue – the point at which muscle contraction abilities begin to diminish

We recognize this challenge, which is why we teach coaches multiple ways they can program to develop their client’s pacing abilities. For this article, we will focus on one effective method, time-dependent training:

Time-dependent training

What is time-dependent training? Time-dependent training is when a task(s) is performed for a certain period of time. For example:

15 Minute Clock @ 75% Sustained Effort

10 Push Press @35% of 1RM 

10 Alternating Lunge

250m Row @ moderate effort

Coach’s Notes:

  • Ensure you move at a pace without taking any extended breaks
  • Focus on breathing and rhythm for each movement
  • Keep your row pace within 1-3 seconds per round

Now that we have defined time-dependant work, let’s discuss how to progress a client through pacing efficiency. 

First, start with easier contractions and longer time domains at a slower tempo. Over time, work towards tougher contractions and shorter time domains at a faster cycle rate. 

SAMPLE PROGRESSION

Easy Contractions + Slower Tempo

15 Minute Clock @75% sustained effort 

5 Push-Ups 

30 Meter Farmer Carry @33% of body weight in each hand 

40 Single Unders 

  • Move at an unbroken pace 
  • Focus on breathing and rhythm for each movement
  • What was your RPE for this session? 

Moderate Contractions + Moderate Tempo

12 Minute Clock @80% sustained effort 

6 Burpees  

9 Russian Kettlebell Swings – loads you can complete in unbroken sets

12  Wall Balls – loads you can complete in unbroken sets

Coach’s Notes:

  • Ensure you move at a pace without taking any extended breaks
  • Focus on breathing and rhythm for each movement
  • Keep each round within 5 seconds of your first round
  • What was your RPE for this session? 

Tough Contractions + Faster Tempo

9 Minute Clock @85% sustained effort 

6 Clapping Push-Up 

8 Cleans @55% of 1RM 

10 Cal Assault Bike 

Coach’s Notes:

  • Ensure you move at a pace without taking any extended breaks
  • Focus on breathing and rhythm for each movement
  • Partition cleans in manageable sets 
  • What was your RPE for this session? 

SAMPLE PERIODIZED PROGRESSION:

Week 1-3: 15 minute clock x 2 sets – easy contractions + slower tempo

Week 4-6: 12 minute clock x 2 sets – easy contractions + moderate tempo

Week 7-9: 9 minute  x 2 sets – easy contractions + faster tempo

Week 10-12: 12 minute clock x 2 sets – moderate contractions + slower tempo

Week 17-20: 9 minute clock x 2 sets – moderate contractions + moderate tempo

Week 21-24: 6 minute clock x 3 sets – moderate contractions + faster tempo 

Week 25-27: 9 minute clock x 2 sets – tough contractions + slower tempo 

Week 28-30: 6 minute clock x 3 sets – tough contractions + moderate tempo

Week 31-33: 3 minute clock x 3 sets – tough contractions + faster tempo 

You need to know what exercises a client can perform efficiently in order for time-dependent training to be effective. A client should be in constant motion for the entire time frame prescribed while staying under their muscle endurance threshold. 

Establishing contractions and exercise selection will be dictated based upon your initial assessment. An assessment will give you a starting point for working with a client, showing you what areas to prioritize and what is within their current capabilities. 

Take the first training example above as a starting point. If a client can complete this at a sustained pace, it means they are making that specific workout aerobic. A coach can use two steps to check for sustainability.

First, measure their intraset repeatability. It is important to see consistency per set to ensure the work stays aerobic. 

Clients Results From the 15 Minutes of Work:

Round 1: 2:55

Round 2: 3:05

Round 3: 2:58

Round 4: 3:02

Round 5: 3:00

The results show the work completed challenged the aerobic system while staying under the muscle endurance threshold because of the consistent times for each round. 

Secondly, a coach must communicate with the client to gain insight to their experience during the training session. An effective tool is using a scale of measurement of rated perceived exertion (RPE). 

Ask this question: 

How did you feel on the final round of work on a scale from 1 to 10?

 (1 being very easy and 10 being max effort )

This method of measuring intensity is important to consider as the client’s program is progressed. Staying in a moderate range of 5-8 is optimal for aerobic work. 

Using these two tools–intraset data and client (RPE)–is simple and measurable, and will guide what to prescribe and how the client will perform in future sessions. Patience is key. Clients need structure and a robust amount of exposure to time-dependent work to be able to effectively pace. In time this method will result it vastly improved pacing abilities for clients.  

Learning to pace is a valuable lesson for every client, but the best style of workouts, exercises, and training tools to teach this need to be individualized. Start your education in personalized metabolic conditioning workouts in our free Coach’s Toolkit course.

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