Get in Shape Fast with Metabolic Training

Fifteen years ago, a strength and fitness coach could make a huge difference to a person’s life just by adding some resistance training to their weekly regime. Unfortunately we live in a completely different world today. With the rapid advances in technology making everything easier as it were, we have become less active and in many cases simply lazy! It’s a sad fact, but it is something we can change with the right mindset and knowledge of some effective training methods.

About 10 years ago many people got into aerobic training which makes you feel good but as we know now, pure cardio is simply not an effective way to lose body fat. More recently, the fitness industry has embraced interval training and people have started to get better results in less time with increased fat loss in comparison to pure cardio training.

The problem with the traditional interval training approach, however, was that the number of injuries increased. People were packing on the pounds and then coming in to see their personal trainers to lose the excess body fat. With limited time and desire to lose the unwanted fat, fast trainers would put their clients through gruelling interval training sessions without any consideration of their client’s asymmetries and imbalances. Many overweight people were required to run which results in a lot of pounding on the joints. This created severe stress on the body and would eventually result in injury. Some people turned to using the bike which appeared to worked well at first, but this just increased the total number of reps for the hip, knee and ankle, again leading to injury.

The other issue is that interval training can be quite boring and therefore, not that enjoyable or stimulating. Try asking a client of yours to come in an extra a day or two to do something they dreaded doing. Would they come? Or would they more likely cancel the session?

Something needed to change. There needed to be a safer, more effective and more enjoyable way to work out. It was at this point that a few experts in the fat loss niche, namely Alwyn Cosgrove and Robert Dos Remedios started to implement non-traditional metabolic training into their programs. They designed a metabolic workout that elevated heart rate and oxygen consumption and at the same time reduced the the total number of reps that were performed. They incorporated different movements in a circuit which spread the joint impact around the body.

In metabolic training, each station in the circuit is performed for a certain amount of time. The rest periods vary depending on the client’s particular level of fitness. As they progress through the program their rest periods become shorter and shorter to place their energy systems under more stress.

The Science behind Metabolic Conditioning

A study from Truman State University showed the metabolic effect of kettlebell training. The subjects were asked to swing a kettlebell as many times as they could for 12 minutes. The subjects rested whenever they wanted. Prior to swinging, their oxygen consumption or Vo2max was measured.

The researchers found that the subjects completed on average 265 sings in the 12 minutes. The lowest score was 198 and the highest 333. The average heart rate was 86% of the maximum heart rate and subjects worked at 65% of their previously measured Vo2max. The researchers concluded that “Continuous kettlebell swings can impart a metabolic challenge of sufficient intensity to increase Vo2max. Heart rate was substantially higher than Vo2 during kettlebell swings. Kettlebells provide a useful tool with which coaches may improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of their athletes.”

This supports the idea that you don’t need to run, cycle, swim or perform any other traditional cardiovascular type exercises to lose body fat. In fact doing circuits of body weight exercises, kettlebell swings, ropes, sleds, sandbags and medicine balls etc. will create the same metabolic effect (e.g., heart rate, oxygen consumption) and thus burn more calories while reducing the total reps and stress to your joints.


Farrar, R.E., Mayhew, J.L., & Koch, A.J. (2010). Oxygen cost of kettlebell swings. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(4), 1034-1036.

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