Metabolic training - what you will see everyone doing that you should avoid.

What is metabolic training?

A simplified definition of metabolic training is completing a sequence of compound (multi-joint) exercises with little rest in an effort to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout.

Endless jumping

Yes jumping up and down onto boxes is hard work and it burns lots of calories but is it necessary to do it every day? Is it a smart approach?

You will see many fitness sites and programs giving you their WOD’s (workout of the day). They usually require you to jump on something or squat or jump lunge or sprint or front squat until your knee joints turn to dust.

Remember, a muscle can take up to 72 hours to fully recover.


People looking like death at the end of the routine

Are well respected strength and conditioning coach Martin Rooney says “We’ve begun to value how 'extreme' a program is more than the results it can produce."

Unless you specifically value the feeling of being on your last legs more than the feeling of successfully completing a well-planned training routine with some more gas in the tank then knock yourself out. Don’t complain to me when you can’t recover and have to take 3 weeks off because you are a physical wreck.

People hitting metabolic training everyday

Pounding your body every day with brutal workouts will guarantee the following…

·         You will burn calories

·         You will burn fat

·         You will over-train

·         You will catabolise muscle tissue

·         You will get injured

·         You will take time off

·         You will probably gain weight

Even elite level athletes don’t train every day. They will factor in sports specific training with a work to rest ratio. A sprinter won’t sprint every day. They will include strength work, flexibility and recovery periods to ensure they can keep training harder for longer without compromising performance. You should be the same.

People using technical movements like clean and jerks in their workouts and doing countless reps

Olympic lifting is all the rage. Just like the ab roller every gym has some guy doing cleans with awful technique clattering weights all over the place and nearly killing someone with an out of control barbell.

The trouble with these techniques is that in order to perform them as they should be, very explosively (the clean and jerk and snatch are two of the fastest lifts you can perform and they require countless hours of technique training to master) your technique may go before you even get the required metabolic response. 

Programs like crossfit call for high repetitions of these technical exercises where form will fail long before the metabolic response leaving the remaining technique looking like something resembling a seizure with a barbell. This naturally increases the chance of an injury occurring. I’m not saying it’s wrong I’m just saying it might not make sense what looking at your training routine long-term. Sure, very experienced lifters will be able to maintain technique for longer but the same point still applies. I don’t doubt the value of Olympic lifts I just question their usefulness as a high rep exercise in a metabolic circuit rather than as a standalone exercise or as part of a low rep, heavy weight metabolic circuit with enough rest to maintain technique.

Generally speaking your metabolic routine is best when comprised of self-limiting exercises like regular presses, pull ups etc. when you can’t do any more you can’t do any more.