What is MetCon training?
Metabolic conditioning or “metcon” for short is a style of training made popular in recent years by the CrossFit community – although the style of training itself is nothing new. The term describes short bouts of higher-intensity training designed to increase metabolic demand and increase energy usage.
All About Metabolism: The Three Energy Systems
Contrary to popular belief, metabolism is more than the number of calories you burn each day. Rather, it refers to every single energy-producing and energy-using reaction that occurs in your body.
A little science lesson:
A chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fuels every cell in your body with the energy that cell needs. To get ATP, your body relies on three energy systems: the phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative systems.
The phosphagen system is fast-acting and responsible for supplying the body with ATP for quick, high-intensity exercises, such as sprints and Olympic lifts. But it tuckers out fast. After that, it needs substantial rest time to spring back into action.
Once you push past the 10-second mark, your glycolytic system starts to take on the brunt of the work, supplying APT for activities such as heavy weightlifting and longer sprints that last up to a few minutes in duration. This system also then needs some time to recover.
So your oxidative (aka aerobic) system next picks up the slack, fueling you through longer duration activities, from 5Ks to triathlons. You can thank all three processes for keeping your body moving.
It’s important to remember that while the three energy systems work on a sort of continuum, no one system is ever doing all of the work. Rather, they’re all working at any given moment — some are just doing more of the work than are others.
So What Does This Have to Do with Metabolic Conditioning?
When it comes down to it, metabolic conditioning is any form of exercise that increases the efficiency of any energy system. But it’s important for every fitness goal, whether you are trying to improve your mile time, get more out of your cycling classes, or build muscle and burn fat. After all, as your body’s energy pathways become better at producing ATP, buffering out nasty metabolic byproducts (which your muscles don’t want) and recovering, the more your body can do.
Enjoy the workouts!