Metabolic Conditioning: A System Of Interval Training For The Everyday Athlete

 In Athleticism, For Fitness Pros, For Men, For Women, Strength & Conditioning

METCON is a phrase often used in the fitness industry. It was popularized in the Crossfit community, and today plays a vital part in the training for most amateur athletes.

Unfortunately, most people don’t understand the essence of this type of training, which could turn you into a super strong, explosive and durable machine, if followed correctly. But one thing is for certain, METCON will strip the fat from the bones and help you add a few pounds of muscle if you follow a good nutritional plan and lifestyle with this type of training.

It’s a shame that people adopt this type of training without knowing the basics because METCON has earned a bad reputation. Injuries occur often, which can be ascribed to the exercise systems or training tools used.

As with any training protocol, I advise you to work alongside a professional. A professional will make this highly intensive and frequent type of training beneficial to your needs. Remember you must have a plan for everything, training is no exception.


Photo Credit : Runar Eilertsen

Energy Systems

A functioning body needs to use the energy from food. The type, amount, and speed of gained energy is quite different in the various types of activities. Muscle cells are capable of using different forms of energy that are quite different in their chemical compounds.

Free energy in muscle cells can be absorbed with or without the oxygen, thus we divide the process on anaerobic (phosphagen and glycolytic) and aerobic. The primary source of energy for muscle work is adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Three Important Metabolic Systems Provide Energy For Muscular Work: 

Anaerobic (without presence of oxygen)

  • Phosphagen
  • Glycolytic

Aerobic (with presence of oxygen)

  • Citric acid cycle

1. The phosphagen energy system includes ATP and phosphocreatine. Their absorption of free energy is the quickest possible, and they provide energy for 10-15 seconds of muscle activity.

2. Glycogen represents the supply of carbohydrates in the body (muscle glycogen, liver glycogen, blood stream glycogen). With the decomposition of glycogen to glucose and further to ATP without the presence of oxygen (anaerobic), lactic acid is formed. The speed energy creation is slower that phosphagen system, and faster from anaerobic glucose absorption. With this process, energy for 30-40 seconds of muscle activity is formed.

3. The aerobic energy system requires the presence of oxygen in the chemical reactions during decomposition of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.

The Advantage Of METCON

The advantage of METCON is that results start to show in a very short period of time, and people love it. It is a different programming routine and you can push your limits both physically and mentally. The most important component is that one becomes more capable for challenges of life, and it’s fun. The effects of this type of training go way beyond the workout itself because the body continues to burn calories even after the activity itself by speeding up the metabolism.

However, the problem is that with this type of training, there can be (and there are) injuries because of overtraining and inadequate program design. METCON uses complex movements with a large number of muscles involved, and exercises are performed explosive and fast. Maximum weights are not recommended, but one should use weights optimally.

How To Use METCON In Your Training

  • Interval: Tabata or any arbitrary interval training.
  • Tabata: 20 sec ON / 10 sec OFF x 8 rounds.
  • Time: For example: 30 sec ON / 30 sec OFF; 30 sec ON /15 sec OFF.
  • On The Minute: For each full minute, (the number of repetitions or the time interval) which lasts for a certain period of time (approx. 15 minutes)
  • AMRAP (as many rounds as possible).

I advise doing this with one kettlebell or two kettlebells and combine them with a basic calisthenic/bodyweight exercise. With the kettlebell, we can do the exercises in either complexes or chains.

A complex means a series of exercises one after another without dropping the kettlebell until you complete all the repetitions of a certain exercise. A chain is when you repeat one exercise then another, all the way through. In the end, you return to the beginning and do it all over again (same or higher number of repetitions).

Programming depends on your physical and mental condition. You don’t need to start with the hardest program and exercises, but you can build up from simple to more complex. Stick to the periodization of the smart man from easy to hard, because if you are looking for a way to break yourself, you’ll probably find it.

Sample Workout

Sample Workout

GSS /Mountain Rescue Service

  • Men 24 kg/28 kg /Women 16 kg/20 kg
  • 10 Goblet squat + 20 swing + 15 push-up
  • Easiest way: 4 sets, rest 60 seconds in between each.
  • Advanced : As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes.

Butt Burner 4000

Men 24 kg/28 kg / Women 16 kg /20 kg

  • 10 Two-Arm swings then 1 goblet squat
  • 9 Two-Arm swings then 2 goblets
  • 8 Two-Arm swings then 3 goblets
  • 1 Single-Arm swing then 10 goblets
  • Repeat in reverse.

The Magnificent 5

  • Work only with one kettlebell
  • Men 20 kg/24 kg/ Women 12 kg/16 kg
  • 5 high pull + 5 long push press + 5 press + 5 goblet squat + 5 swings / left hand, then the right hand
  • Rest 45 seconds between each round, and complete as many rounds as you can in 10 minutes.

Interval With Breaks

Armor Building

  •  Lunge the right foot and halo, then lunge the left foot and halo
  •  2H swing
  • Push up / on your knees
  • Pull-ups / TRX (suspension simulator)

For the beginning start : 30 ON/30 OFF

 Swing & Snatch

20 sec of swing
10 sec rest
20 sec of snatch right
10 sec rest
20 sec of snatch left
10 sec rest

If you know the basics you can create a program for yourself.  All these exercises can and don’t need to be done with the weights mentioned above. You can use a lighter kettlebell.

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Why The Everyday Athlete Needs To Understand Metabolic Conditioning
Article Name
Why The Everyday Athlete Needs To Understand Metabolic Conditioning
Aleksandar Miketa discusses what is metabolic conditioning and why you, the everyday athlete needs to know what it is and how to apply it.
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Strength Matters
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