Blog | What is MetCon?


We get asked time and time again what is MetCon? 

Is it circuit training? 

How can it help me with my goals?

So here are some answers for you about the Metabolic Conditioning sessions we run at Macclesfield Performance. 

Firstly, “MetCon” at Macclesfield Performance isn’t random, it’s programmed and progressive.  

MetCon has often been categorised as short duration high intensity workouts combining a number of skills drilled at maximal intensity to create aggressive, sickening workouts that leave you mashed within a very short frame of time. 

Sounds delightful right!?

Read on, we’re going to dispel some of your concerns in the next few minutes in the hope to help you see, MetCon at MP isn’t as described above.

Since around year 2000, “CrossFit” has been donning the MetCon label and doing it at full velocity. Workouts like “WODs” have seen many a sweat fest with participants giving it literally everything they have to the last second - beasting themselves to beat time or max out-sets.

Traditionally, however the first use of “Metabolic Conditioning” as a training concept was not that of maximal intensity for every session, but rather maximal “sustained” effort for the duration of the session and this concept is still hugely favoured especially by Strength & Conditioning coaches.

To help you understand better, firstly we need you think about exercise as not just a way to lose fat or burn calories per session, but instead think of it as a way to become more efficient at doing those things alongside many a positive side-effect.  Couple the positive side-effects of long term fat reduction and muscular and cardiovascular conditioning as the basis for your workouts and you have our MetCon at MP. 

MetCon was described once as "the ability to work at a high level of intensity for a prolonged period of time. The ability to work at a level very close to 100% of intensity for a period of at least 20 minutes”. 

Now the key point to consider here is duration…

To sustain near maximal intensity individuals must train “near maximal” and not “Maximal”… Sounds obvious right? 

Well perhaps for some not so much. You see HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has been highly popular for years and with that the belief that the only way for you to lose fat and get fitter is do HIIT all the time has meant that a lot of people are missing the bigger picture when it comes to training intensity. Many people are only becoming good at working at very high intensity, your body after all, adapts to meet its demands. Unfortunately ask those same people to work for longer than 20-40 second rounds and their performance can often be less impressive.

To be able to even consider being able to sustain near maximal for a time frame such as 20 minutes, individuals need to be conditioning all their energy systems to be able to last at that level of intensity and for that period of time.

Simply put, going hell for leather for the first 3 minutes will only result in one thing… a energy depletion that in turn will force your body into a new training zone… even though you may feel you are going at 100% the likelihood is you’re only going at 70% of what you could be capable of as you are only conditioned to do high intensity circuit style station to station workouts.

In any sport or successful long term training method, the way in which sessions are programmed is key. What we love about MetCon is the workouts are designed to make individuals work hard in any workout but in a way in which they are always able to complete the entire workout to the best of their ability. In the training zones depicted for that specific training phase in the programming. Our MetCons are not random.

The overall goal of MetCon is to train the participant to be able to target which ever energy system/systems required on the day, or even mix off all and you can leave the programming and planning of all of this to us - how great is that!

There are many variants and sessions are full of variety and kept interesting to keep you motivated.

Check out the table attached… using different training techniques, intensities and durations, changes what energy system a person is using for the workout.

MetCon targets all of these energy systems at different stages throughout the programme, individually and combined.

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How do you know if its working?

Well apart from the obvious results, the loss in body fat, the increase in load you can lift or carry, the distance you can row, run or ride comfortably, the dropping of a dress size. We also include benchmark weeks in MetCon. This is a week designed specifically to test if you have got fitter, faster and/or stronger and is a great incentive to train towards. 

We currently lead 3 MetCons at Macclesfield Performance. Two AM sessions (Monday & Wednesday) and one PM session (Monday).

Check out our timetable for times, to book and give it a go!