Metcons aren't the only way to illicit metabolic response
‘MetCons’ Aren’t The Only Way to Elicit Metabolic Response

There’s no denying that Metabolic Conditioning pieces are very effective at producing an effective metabolic response. After all, that is exactly why they are named as such. Much of this has to do with the sheer intensity demanded by these particular workouts. Despite the perception that only intensity can lead to an effective metabolic response, lower intensity aerobic weight training sessions may create more favorable responses for a client’s goals. Download our guide to designing Metcons for health and longevity here.

So, what is a metabolic response?

A metabolic response is any reaction by the body to a specific influence or impact. Metabolism is a general term describing the organic process in any cellular structure. A metabolic response can occur with respect to individual cells, a gland, an organ, or a process such as the cardiovascular system. Metabolism is often understood in terms of the metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy expended by the body in a given period. Metabolic response, when stated without reference to a specific action, is a neutral term; metabolic responses occur and may be correspondingly assessed or measured in respect of a wide variety of circumstances.

Wow, sounds incredibly complicated right? Let’s try to think of it in significantly more simple terms. Metabolism is essentially the process through which the body creates energy by the conversion of food to energy to run cellular processes, the conversion of food to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates, and the elimination of waste. All of these processes occur when the body is in exercise both during and after.

So why does this scientific gibberish matter to coaches?

Metabolism is a variable in the assessment of human performance. Metabolic function is subject to such individual factors as age, heredity, gender, level of physical fitness, and others. It is also well understood that while metabolisms are unique in every individual, there are certain generalizations regarding body types and structures that can be used in any consideration of metabolic function. Meaning that you craft different metabolic responses based on myriad of individual factors and traits, as well as the selection of the workout or training style.

When thinking about a metabolic response, we have to identify what the purpose is for that response. If we are aiming to improve an individual’s muscle endurance capabilities in a specific pattern, there’s multiple ways we can go about this in a less stressful state to ensure minimal wear and tear on the nervous system. One of the beautiful attributes behind aerobic weight training is the ability to improve muscle endurance in a controlled setting versus a chaotic or uncontrollable setting.

An example of aerobic weight training:

4 sets @ sustained effort:
5/leg Dumbbell Walking Lunges (tough)
5 Dumbbell Front Squats
5/leg Dumbbell Reverse Lunges
5 Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
-rest 90 sec-

-versus-

Generic CrossFit Workout

4 rounds for time:
10 Deadlifts
10 Wall Balls
10 Hang Power Cleans

Both pieces have the same amount of total reps and both are looking to challenge lower body muscle endurance in squatting and bending patterns, however, the dose-response will be different. The first example creates control through non-dynamic movements, includes rest and is performed at a sustained pace. In comparison, the second example has dynamic movements and does not include rest or pace. Click the link below to download Designing Metcons for Health and learn why example one is more conducive to living long and prospering.

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