MetCons are a fantastic way to get in great shape, improve your cardio while improving strength. These kids of workouts build long, sinewy muscles and give that fantastic lung burn as any good workout should. I love a good metcons and most people that do them love it too - but as with most training tools, there is a way to do them right and a way to do them wrong.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term metcons, it is short for “metabolic conditioning.” This is a phrase coined by the founder of CrossFit. It is the word we use to describe a task or tie oriented workout that usually contain both a strength and cardiovascular component. Think, burpee combined with deadlifts, squats with sprinting, or kettle bell swings with lunges and sit ups. Metcons are usually performed as fast as possible and are the back bone of the sport of CrossFit.
The are an excellent training tool and you would be hard pressed to find a faster way to get someone stong, mobile and improve fitness. The fun part is, you can see measurable improvement by doing the same workout again and comparing score. Also it is a great way to work out together.
I use them in my ow training and in some of my clients training. They are a fantastic tool and easy to out together and have some fun. But I see a lot of things go sideway when training with this tool. Let’s talk about some things to consider.
Get stuck in one time matrix
MetCon is a small word the incorporates a vast amount of training. You can have sprint met cons that last two insanely hard and painful minutes or you can have a long and slow metcon that lasts up to an hour.
Most people program the same workout over and over and over again. It’s 15 to 20 minutes. Long enough to get you sweaty and feel like you are doing something, short enough to not infringe to harshly on your day. I get it it. When people leave the gym totally sweaty and possibly sore, the REALLY feel like they are working out.
But the beauty of a metcon is that you can do a 5x5 back squat, then a 4 miniature hard af metcon and call it a day. These two thing barely have you sweating, but if you did them right you absolutely dd enough work. Besides, you are coming in for a 50 minute metcon the next day so why tax yourself?
Make sure you add a lot of VARIETY to your workout. Sometimes you should be racing yourselves and other, while other times you should be pacing yourself to yourself ad ability. Switch it up and find other workout to do online. Get hip to cycle syncing and let that dictate the kind of metcons you should be doing.
Over or Underestimates the challenge of workout
It is important that a professional or experienced athlete programs your workout. I have seen many workouts written and I’m like “This!? It will take us 45 minutes AND we still have to deadlift,” only to be shot down with “No, its a 15 minute workout.”
Folks, I know my times. I know how name burpees a beginner can fit in 40 seconds and how long it take to complete 3 squats at 80% 1RM. You can’t fool me. Most people are in worse shape than they think (listen, it’s true for me too) so always err on the side of caution. Don’t make a workout too easy but but when putting together a metcon and you cannot decide between 6 round or 10, make it 7 and see how you do. These workouts go from challenging to B R U T A L very fast and one of the worst things you can do is show up everyday to lose.
Collect some wins under your belt and get a better idea of how long these movements take fro you complete. Time yourself doing sets of 10 exercises so you see how long you will need to complete this task. Understand your performance will probably slow after 5 minutes of work. Or simple put a time cap on it by choosing to do an AMRAP (as many reps as possible in 12, 6 or 28 minutes).
Sticks to this framework during all phases of the cycle
If you have been reading my work for a while, you know working at the same intensity for your whole cycle is a BUST! Switch it up. Favor the sprint metcons and heavy lifting for the pre ovulation nd ovulation phase of your cycle. Do the longer, slower lighter metcons for the premenstrual and menstrual phase.
Don’t get caught in the workout spiral. And keep in mind that these work outs are VERY easy to modify in favor of the phase you are in. If you are in the third or fifth day of your period, you can replace all movements with body weight exercises. If you are in the ovulation phase, you can increase the weight and shorten the rep number. If you are in the premenstrual phase, you can make any superset and met con my doing 30-60 seconds of sprinting or biking in between each set.
The beauty of metcons is that they are so versatile. Use this to your advantage by increasing exposure and therefore knowledge about how they work.