Metabolic Conditioning: What Is It And How It Works

Metabolic conditioning seems to be the new buzzword in the world of fitness and weight loss.

It’s not a new thing though, but it’s been made popular by workouts like P90X.

There’s a lot that goes into what metabolic conditioning is. So it helps to understand it before you enlist it as part of your steady workout routine.

What Is Metabolic Conditioning?

If you’re doing exercises that increase your energy for physical activity, and that help you store that energy, you’re already practicing metabolic conditioning. You’re using your muscles to create energy. There are certain components that go into how this works.

Oxygen utilization is an important factor, as it helps measure how much energy your body is using (using energy burns calories). Metabolic conditioning workouts like P90X use interval training to cause your body to use more oxygen. You do this in other ways as well, without a specific workout plan that you pay for.

Since you’re changing the rate at which your body is burning calories, but doing different workouts and increasing the oxygen you’re using, you are changing your metabolism. As most people know, metabolism has a lot to do with your ability to lose weight and keep it off.

Meet Your Metabolism

Metabolism is the chemical process your body goes through in order to turn the food you eat into energy you use to get through the day.

Some of the most basic things you do are part of this process, including the “simple” act of breathing. This structure is at play when you’re eating, when your body is digesting the food you eat, when that food is going through all the stuff it does in your body, and all the way to when you eliminate it.

When you think of metabolism you probably instantly think about weight loss and calorie burning. But the process is much more than that. Every action your body takes to produce or use energy is a metabolic process. There are three systems to the process as well – it starts with phosphagen, moves into glycolic, and finishes off in oxidative.

The systems

When you start exercising, your body moves into the phosphagen system. This starts the production of a chemical known as ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. It’s the chemical that gives your body the energy you need for a good workout. The problem with phosphagen is that it’s short-lived. And after a few minutes, you might feel like you’re already out of energy.

Once you push past the ten-minute workout mark, you go into the glycolytic system. This gives you a little more energy so you can get through your weight lifting session or a short run, but it also runs out of energy. That is where the oxidative system comes in.

The oxidative system is also known as aerobic, and it’s the point when your body is able to get through physical activity that takes more time. You’re in the aerobic state when you’re running marathons or doing extended aerobic workouts. The thing is, you may go through these systems multiple times in one workout – and that’s kind of the point of interval training.


How to Use Metabolic Conditioning in Your Workout

Now that you have a little more of an understanding of metabolic conditioning and how your metabolism works, you can already kind of get an idea of how to integrate metabolic conditioning into your own fitness and weight loss routine. Your workouts will do a more efficient job when you are using more oxygen, burning more calories, and getting more out of your workout.

As you do interval workouts, your body will begin to recover sooner. And you’ll be able to focus more on certain areas you want to work on, rather than ending up with muscles in areas you’re not trying to get them in.

After all, you’re “conditioning” your body and making it what you want it to be on the spectrum of wellness.

You don’t have to work out to the point of puking – that’s not what this type of conditioning is about, even if this is how many people seem to be doing it.

Working Out Different Muscle Groups

The intervals are the key – do some low-intensity workouts to give your body a rest in between the high-intensity ones. You also want to change up the exercises to give your body a chance to work out all of the different muscle groups (especially any you want to focus on).

You’re putting extra-large demands on your body with these workouts, putting your energy systems to work and burning far more calories than you do when you’re doing just a normal workout. You’re changing your body and your metabolism. This is why people are eating these workout systems up – because they work. You can see the results.

Raising Your Metabolic Rate

Another thing that is happening as you’re conditioning your body with these interval workouts is raising your basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic is the rate at which you burn calories before activity. You’ll begin burning more calories during rest, post workout.

What Interval Training Is

Before you learn a few tips on how to make interval training work for you, it’s helpful to take a look at what an interval training actually looks like.

There may be different ratios when it comes to workout time and rest time. It depends on your preferences and whether you’re just getting started or not. So keep that in mind as well.

You’ll sprint, then rest, then repeat. Or do squats, then rest, then repeat.

What matters is how long you’re doing each thing, to determine the ratio. If you’re only working out for 10 minutes total, you’re only reaching that phosphagen system, and not burning as much as you would with a longer workout that would boost you to a system that uses more oxygen. However, you want to reach them all for maximum effect.

Another thing to consider is the fact that your intervals may be brief. While your total workout may last 10 minutes, your high-intensity workouts may be 10 seconds each with 10-second low-intensity rest in between each one.


Things to Consider When It Comes to Metabolic Conditioning

Aside from ratios between intensities, here are some other things to consider when it comes to metabolic conditioning.

1. Are You Just Getting Started?

Are you going right from couch potato to interval workout star? You probably don’t want to do anything too intense if your body isn’t used to working out at all. There’s nothing wrong with start “light” and working your way up to something a bit more intense.

Always consider where your current fitness level is before starting an intense workout. If you hurt yourself, it will take even longer to recover and begin again and be able to work up to the level you want to be at.

2. Intensity Factors

You also want to consider intensity when there are other factors involved – like recovering from injuries or illnesses. It’s true that you may be feeling better, but consider the downtime you’ve had. You may need to ease back into things and take some time to test your body out before jumping right back into high-intensity training.

3. Which Exercises You Do Matter

Which exercises you choose to do will depend a lot on what areas of your body you want to see the most changes in. If you’re working on chest and abs, you want to make sure you integrate things like push-ups and shoulder presses. You can do more than just a couple of exercises and do an entire circuit.

How much you do, and how long you do it, and how much time you spend on high-intensity workouts, like medicine ball slams, depends on your experience and how much you want this to work for you.

4. When to Hit High-intensity

Each workout needs to start with a warm-up. You don’t want to swing right into something high-intensity. If you do, you increase your risk of injury. Instead, give your body some time to warm-up, so you can move more fluidly.

It can sometimes be most beneficial to do your high-intensity intervals at the end of your normal workout.

At this point, your body is fully warmed up, and you’ve already done a lot to get your oxygen usage on point. It also helps to time your high-intensity and low-intensity workouts, so you get the exact ratios you worked out.


Making Metabolic Conditioning Work for You

Metabolic conditioning can change your body and change your life.

Remember, you don’t have to invest in a system like P90X in order to make this system work for you.

You can always take some time to research online and find the best high-intensity workouts, which will help you be on your way to a brand new metabolism.


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