Raise your hand if the prospect of dragging yourself to the gym, running for at least half an hour on a treadmill then lifting weights doesn’t appeal to you. It may not be enjoyable but it’s necessary if you want to become leaner and more toned. But what if we told you that there’s a more efficient way for you to lose weight and get those #gains in as little as half an hour per workout?
It may sound too good to be true but it’s not. It’s called metabolic conditioning (or metcon) and, simply put, it’s an intense workout in a shorter amount of time, improving the way your body stores and uses energy and essentially turning you into a more efficient fat-burning, muscle-building machine.
How Metcon Works
“Metabolic conditioning is a form of activity wherein you play with different variables (time, intensity, volume, resistance) to induce a certain response in metabolism, usually the efficiency of a certain energy system” says Rafael T. Pagdanganan, Performance Coach at Focus Athletics – Makati.
Pagdanganan explains that the body has three energy systems: phosphagen (immediate powerful bursts for maximum intensities lasting up to 10 seconds, e.g., a sprint or jump), glycolytic (longer, intense repetitive actions lasting from one to four minutes, e.g., weightlifting), and aerobic (longest, easy- to moderate-intensity work that can last for hours, e.g., Zumba). “All energy systems are active during exercise, but there will be one dominating system depending on the mode of exercise,” he says.
If your goal is weight loss, you should go for a workout that activates the glycolytic and aerobic energy systems. “Both systems target fat as a source of fuel during the workout, and the glycolytic system also targets muscle growth,” explains Pagdanganan. “Gain muscle while burning fat? Win-win.”
Your Workout Plan
There are different types of metcon and two of the most popular are:
HIIT. In high-intensity interval training, “You do alternating intervals of submaximal to maximal intensity and low-intensity work,” says Pagdanganan. A simple example of a sprint HIIT workout is a 20-meter sprint followed by a 20-meter walk, done in three to four cycles. Other sample HIIT workouts:
Using equipment (three to four cycles):
30 seconds kettlebell swings
20 seconds plank
30 seconds dumbbell presses
20 seconds jog in place
Using bodyweight (three to four cycles):
30s squat jumps
30s mountain climbers
Circuit training. Some gyms specialize in this type of workout, wherein you’re in and out in 30 minutes flat. Pagdanganan says, “The activity is done by performing a group of exercises one after the other, with little or no rest between sets. The idea is to keep your heart rate elevated so that you continue burning a maximal number of calories as you go.” Some examples of a circuit are:
Using bodyweight (two to three cycles):
20 meters high knees
20 meters butt kicks
20 meters skips
20 meters power skips
20 meters bounds
20 meters runs
Using equipment (three to four cycles):
10 dumbbell squats
10 push press
10 renegade rows
10 alternating lunges
Ideally, says Pagdanganan, a workout should take only 30 to 45 minutes of your time, including warmup. “As long as you’re doing the right type of metcon in relation to your goals, you burn fat more efficiently, you build strength and develop lean muscles, and if you’re doing it correctly, you’ll still burn calories up to 36 hours post-workout because of the ‘afterburn’ effect called EPOC, or Excess Post Oxygen Consumption,” he adds.
If you’re interested in taking on metcon, then Pagdanganan suggests getting a pro to help you out, one that really considers the specific energy system you should target. “It’s important to have a coach that can assess your capabilities and that assists you if you’re a first-timer. The best coach always knows when to adjust a workout according to the needs and capabilities of the client.” Also make sure you get clearance from your doc if you have a preexisting condition.
Keep in mind that all the workouts in the world won’t get you to your goal body if you don’t eat right. Avoid anything refined or processed and go for whole foods—Canadian research found that consuming pesticide-laced food makes it harder to lose weight, so going organic can help with your weight-loss efforts.
Visit Healthy Options, the largest organic food retailer in the Philippines, to stock up your pantry.