MetCon: The good, the bad and the ugly |

MetCon: The good, the bad and the ugly

Crossfit coach Nick Keene (front) demonstrates proper rowing technique to an acclimation class at Crossfit Low Oxygen in Frisco. Rowing is a perfect gym routine for kayakers, rafters and stand-up paddleboard athletes who want to get conditioned before summer arrives in full.
Phil Lindeman / |

Most people believe that metabolic conditioning, also known as MetCon, is the magic pill for weight loss. Numerous studios support the theory that these workouts burn a lot more fat and calories than other workouts that burn fat over a longer period of time.

To understand what metabolic conditioning is, first we have to know its definition. Metabolic conditioning refers to the rate of a workout, using exercises designed to burn as many calories as possible during the workout. It also maximizes the calories burned after the workout, which is known as “after burn.”

Many fitness programs say their MetCon programs burn more calories than the competitors. Most of the time, these programs will burn the industry average for fitness programs in a studio. However, there are some things that you should know about metabolic conditioning — the good, the bad and the ugly.

MetCon and heart rate

Several fitness programs in the industry are known to achieve the best results with regular classes spread over eight weeks. These programs have data and proof showing that the programs are effective and safe. They are designed around a participant’s heart rate and proper form.

During these workouts, the heart rates are primarily selected for fat burning and target heart rate zones, where you are working hard but not to the point of maximum effort. These programs have defined results based on data from clients, as well as striking “before and after” photos. Unfortunately, these programs are few and far between and are often overshadowed by the more dominant, high-risk workouts.

Crossfit connection

These high-risk workout programs are the cornerstones of Crossfit. It is a great workout program that builds strength and mass while promoting fat loss.

However, there are a lot of risks with these workouts. Crossfit athletes usually achieve a high repetition count with little to no rest, which is detrimental to your joints if you don’t warm up your muscles and joints properly. Crossfit programs work by keeping your heart rate high through all repetitions and rounds, or by completing as many reps as possible in a given time.

If you do a Crossfit program more than 4 days a week and are not prepared for it, it can be detrimental to your progress. To fully see the results you want from a CrossFit workout, then I would highly recommend going to a facility that has a good reputation and well-trained, highly certified coaches.

The ugly

The worst/ugliest MetCon workouts are found on DVD or in digital formats. These workouts are designed to achieve fat loss and muscle gains, but only if you have the exact form and do the movements exactly as shown on the discs.

The problem with doing these at-home workouts is that you cannot tell if you have perfect form or need improvement — unless you have a knowledgeable coach around to correct your form. The workouts can be dangerous because some of them are plyometric or explosive in nature, which is difficult to perform in the confines of your home.

If you want to use at-home workouts, I would highly recommend that you have someone there for the first few workouts to watch your form. This is important for building muscle memory, which will help you perform these workouts free from any injury or strain.

MetCon is a valuable workout tool when used correctly. Stick with workout programs that focus on target heart rate zones in order to lose fat and gain muscle, and stay clear of solo workouts if you don’t have someone around to correct your form and provide motivation.

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