Metabolic Conditioning is a form of training that aims to improve performance in a particular energy system or pathway by improving the amount of fuel source available for and the efficiency of that energy system resulting in improved energy delivery.
To explain the three energy systems utilized within the body, always remember that all three are working together to provide chemical energy that the body can use to create physical work. Yet the body will always use one of the three predominately based on two important training variables. Being how long or how hard you work, otherwise known as the duration or intensity of the training. While the three energy systems have different names depending on what source you read about them from, they are commonly known as the immediate, short term and long term energy systems with the first two being anaerobic (no oxygen required to fuel their usage) with the long term energy system being aerobic (oxygen required to fuel their usage). For your information, ATP-CP energy system, Lactic Acid energy system and Aerobic energy system are common names used for the three energy systems respectively. A tabled summary of the energy systems is provided below.
*ATP = Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, CP = Creatine Phosphate
Why All The Rage?
The benefits of metabolic conditioning are well known throughout the fitness industry, fast becoming an extremely popular method of training for personal trainers looking to achieve positive results for their clients. Such methods of training are quite prevalent in functional training studios like Revolution Personal Training.
The reason behind the popular usage of metabolic conditioning is that a high level of aerobic fitness can be achieved by primarily stressing the anaerobic energy system. This results in the development or maintenance of lean muscle mass while still improving aerobic fitness and losing fat mass, an often-desired body composition requirement of most clients. This is because scientific studies has shown that various hormones that can negatively effect muscle hypertrophy or size development are not as prevalent following metabolic conditioning in comparison to steady state or long distance continuous training. These catabolic (to break down) hormones are definitely not wanted when looking to maintain or improve lean muscle mass. Post such sessions, the high intensity nature of the training will leave your metabolism burning for an extended period of time, another fat loss or body composition transformation advantage!
The anaerobic stress created through metabolic conditioning is also beneficial to many team sport athletes, hence this form of training is used quite extensively within many elite team based sports as it can be programmed to be quite specific to the requirements of the sport.
How Do You Train For It?
Classes that focus on this form of training at Revolution Personal Training include our MetCon and HIIT classes.
These classes see clients perform a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training exercises, either with body weight only or with the use of training implements such as kettle bells, dumb bells, ropes and sleds. The movements or exercises are often very ‘functional’ incorporating several major muscle groups and joints and movement patterns that are required for your everyday activities (pushing a pram, picking up the shopping bags, placing the tin of biscuits on the top shelf, and then pulling them down again straight away). This sees a large amount of muscle mass trained within the session, high heart responses and a high rating of perceived exertion felt.
The intensity is obviously quite high so that the first two energy systems are stressed (remember these being anaerobic, hence no oxygen is required yet high energy outputs are needed). However the repetitive rounds, reps or intervals of exercise ensure that the aerobic energy system is also stressed and the subsequent ‘fitness’ gains or aerobic capacity is developed.
Don’t let this put you off however as all classes, specifically the work to rest ratios and the individual exercises can be adapted to suit your personal fitness and mobility levels. The classes are challenging but client goals and targets can be set within each class as you look to improve throughout Revolution carefully planned12 week training block.
- Kenney, Wilmore and Costill, Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 6th Ed