Metabolic Training: Is It Worth The Hype? 

June 23, 2021

By Troy Adashun

If you are into fitness, you will know that metabolic training is all the rage at the moment. What exactly is metabolic training, and how does it work? Let's unpack everything you need to know about metabolic training and why it might just be worth every bit of hype.

Metabolic Training In a Nutshell

Simply put, metabolic training is a form of high-intensity training with insane calorie burn while you build muscle. Your metabolic system is the part of your body that burns calories while your body is at rest. 

guy working out at home

The idea of metabolic training is to speed that up, so you burn fat AFTER your workout, not just during. The workouts consist of a circuit made up of compound exercises with tiny breaks between each exercise combination. Think of it as the love child between cardio and strength training. 

Training For the Apocalypse?

Why is this the latest fitness rage? It might seem like you are training for the apocalypse, and if that ever were to happen, metabolic training could help you out a little. All jokes aside, metabolic training is functional and logical. 

man doing metabolic training at home

You learn to use every part of your body in unison, improved fitness, and the ability to better use your body's natural resources. Metabolic resistance training can help you in almost every other sporting aspect and prepare you for your career if you are a firefighter or want to join the military. 

Train Smart Not Hard

The concept was also created to get an insane workout in a short period of time. In today's day and age, we find ourselves constantly on the go, whether with work, home life, school, or just a generally busy life.  If you are struggling to get your weight under control with limited time to work out, metabolic training might be the answer to your prayers. 

shirtless man training abs on mat

Metabolic programs are highly effective at burning fat and stripping visceral fat off your body with one or two quick 30 minute sessions a week. Traditional weight training can take weeks of strict dieting and a few hours a week to get you the same results. 

The Three C's of Metabolic Conditioning

There is a quick and easy way to think of metabolic training, the three C's:

Circuit training

Think of this as the road map. You need to get to the end goal. One of the essential parts of metabolic resistance training is planning. You need to move through your sets quickly, so mapping them out in a circuit is critical. It keeps the tempo and flow of the entire workout together.

Compound exercises

Metabolic training requires compound exercises - training large muscle groups instead of focusing on isolating muscles. This means you can train more than one muscle at a time.


Plan your workout around combinations. Think of a deadlift, an upright row, and a press. You can essentially get three exercises in, sequential order making it much easier to move through the exercises one rep after another.

The Alternative C

An alternative to the third C is Complexes, which follows the same concept as a superset. It can be a little more challenging; you stick to the same piece of equipment and move through each exercise set using the same equipment, e.g., 6 deadlifts, 6 dumbbell curls, 10 sumo squats. 

It minimizes the rest period between exercises and maintains the intensity.

The Break Down

How does this form of training work? To get the best results and reach the goals you have set, you need to know that metabolic resistance training is high-intensity; there should be very little rest between exercises. 

exhausted man sitting on floor breathing and resting

It works for many people as an efficient weight loss and fat-burning session that works the entire body. Your whole body will be fatigued as it focuses on each quadrant of the body. You need to move quickly between the upper and lower body with a good amount of core work in-between. 

The Nitty Gritty

Your body needs to get into an anaerobic state - the glycogen-burning phase. That is how your body takes carbohydrates and burns them for fuel. This is the crucial factor in any weight loss; cardio or aerobic exercise will happily burn from your muscle and tissue supplies of glycogen instead. 

close up of people feet standing on scales

Metabolic training is created to help kick start your metabolism by feeding it rocket fuel. You will continue to burn fat off for up to 72 hours after your workout as your metabolism speeds up. Traditional cardio-like running is a run-and-done method of getting through your workouts. You won't continue burning many calories after a run in comparison. 

Example Workout Template

Any great cake has a recipe, so do metabolic workouts. Due to the exercise's high intensity, you will become tired very quickly; try starting easy and assessing your fitness levels first before committing to a 12-week program. From there, adjust to suit your fitness levels.

Metabolic Interval Split

  • Beginners - 30 seconds of intense exercise, rest for 15 seconds. Complete three rounds before a 90-second rest. Your workout will last 30 minutes.
  • Intermediate - 45 seconds of intense exercise, rest for 15 seconds. Complete three rounds before a 90-second rest. Your workout will last 35 minutes.
  • Advanced - 45 seconds of intense exercise, rest for 15 seconds. Complete three rounds before a 90-second rest. Your workout will last 40 - 45 minutes.

Paired Metabolic Superset

Another way to break the workout up is the following paired set method:

  • One set of exercises followed by 30 seconds of moderately intense aerobic exercise, repeating that for three rounds.
  • For example, alternating between a set of leg presses and 30-seconds of jumping jacks until you have completed the desired number of sets in each exercise. The jumping jacks form active aerobic rest.

The Benefits

There have to be benefits to this training; otherwise, no one would be doing it, right? There are a LOT of benefits.

  • Weight loss is one of the biggest reasons this training is so popular - The weight loss benefits; you stand to lose a lot of weight when using this training properly. One of the effects of MRT is a large number of calories burnt off in one session. You can expect as much as 600 calories burnt off in one session with the added benefit of the Afterburn effect.
  • Afterburn - You continue to burn off calories for up to 72 hours post-workout; your metabolism speeds up, burning the rest off after your muscles have burned through energy and return to a resting state. Your metabolism will speed up and stay elevated for a while after. The harder you train, the more you stand to burn. This is also known as Excessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption - EPOC for short- will help your body consume additional oxygen for muscle repair and recovery.
  • Hormone health - The feeling of muscular exhaustion is actually an excellent thing for muscle growth. Training at high intensity sends a signal for your body to release growth hormone, a vital ingredient for muscle gains! The fat-burning effects of MRT with the added muscle growth will have you lean and on your way to being ripped pretty quickly.
  • Cardiovascular health - You are going to feel your blood pumping all over your body; you will breathe deeper and harder. Your muscles will be working hard to give your heart a workout too! This training is extremely effective in improving cardiovascular health. So, if you are not a fan of traditional cardio, this might just be what you need!
  • Functional fitness - Build strength, endurance, and fitness for almost anything, whether competing in races, joining the military, or law enforcement. This form of exercise is excellent for creating the strength needed for sports, marathon yard work sessions, and just about any activity that will test your power and endurance.
  • Short and sweet - 40 minutes is all you need. You don't need to spend hours slaving away at running on a treadmill; 30 - 40 minutes twice a week is enough to get you slim in no time.
    Variety is the spice of life - It is never the same wash and repeat; the speed at which you run through each exercise is one of the most significant advantages. Say goodbye to boring workouts!
  • Full-body workout - Your entire body will be worked, from the upper body to the core and the lower body too. If you are a leg-dude or a bicep-bro, this will target every part of the body for an even workout. No part gets left out.
  • Fitness - Your physical fitness levels will increase at a rapid rate. You will get seriously fit, fast without a doubt.
  • Visceral fat burning - If you are leaning out or shredding, this is the type of exercise you need; it obliterates stubborn visceral fat - creating a leaner, fitter you! That makes it the ideal partner for body-building workouts instead of traditional cardio.
  • Fun - It is fun; if you love a challenge and feeling like you have worked out like a mad man, this is the type of workout for you! Especially when done in a group, it might feel like a group torture session for some, but for others, it is pretty fun!

The Risks

All great things have their risks - here are a few before you jump headfirst into training metabolic circuits every day of the week. Here are a few of the risks and how to avoid them.

  • Too much of a good thing - Too much too long, and you risk injuring yourself. The muscle stiffness after a metabolic training session can be debilitating the first time. You should plan to be stiff in the day's post-workout. You can help prevent some of the stiffness by foam rolling and stretching post-workout.
  • Increased quit rate - A lot of people go into MRT excited and full of hope that this is how they will train every week for the rest of their lives. The benefits are great, so why not? Going into this kind of training with realistic expectations is the key to sticking to it long-term. You need to know you will be tired, and your body will ache. It is a challenging exercise.
  • Injury - Injury is one of the most common issues with metabolic training. The fatigue caused by moving through exercises fast with no prior technique can lead to injury. The best way to prevent this is to map your workouts out around exercises you know how to perform. If you map out a new routine, practice some of the movements beforehand in gym sessions; once you have perfected your form in each exercise, add it to your metabolic training list.
  • Beginners - This is a particularly risky form of exercise for beginners as the risk of injury increases. If you are just getting into fitness and are still unsure, consult a personal trainer and get their expert opinion on how to map it out and work with them for a few sessions to get you started.
  • Immune system suppression - High-intensity interval training has been proven to reduce your immune system temporarily as it copes with the stress on your system. Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and eating a nutrient-dense diet. Don't train if you are feeling under the weather or sickly.

Traditional vs. New Age Training

Traditional cardio can strip your muscle down a notch when combined with weight training. That is where metabolic training comes in; you are training using weights, bodyweight, resistance with an added intensity. You will feel the burn. As your metabolism is sped up, you will continue to burn calories off for 48 to 72 hours after leaving the gym.

The Facts

If this sounds like your idea of fun, you should remember it is high-intensity strength training. This is not your regular training. You should only ever do metabolic training a few times a week. It is hard on your body, and you will feel it. 

handsome guy in sport gym injury pain

Jumping into metabolic training without proper planning can injure you, even if you're an experienced fitness fanatic. You will feel the ache and burn the next day and possibly the day after. Training sore muscles can injure them and put you out of the gym for longer than you should be. 

Metabolic training in 20

Try this insane workout. Use this layout to map out your training. You will notice that metabolic training uses minimal rest periods between exercises. 

The less time you have to think about the burn, the harder you work and the better the results.

  • Warmup - Any cardio activity for 5 or more minutes
  • Functional Jump squat - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Jump-assisted pull-ups - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Plyometric box jumps - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Squat jumps - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Burpee with Renegade Rows - 30 seconds
    Rest for 10 seconds
  • Plyometric lunges - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Bear crawls - 1 set of 30 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Mountain climbers with lateral foot taps - 1 set of 45 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Push up to side plank - 1 set of 45 seconds
  • Repeat the circuit 1 to 3 times for the ultimate burn.
  • Cool down for 5 minutes with a light cycle with little to no resistance or walking on the treadmill. Stretch out, and foam roll your muscles.

Not For The Faint-Hearted

This training is not for the faint-hearted; it is intense, hard-working, and can leave you stiff and sore for days. However, it is fun, exhilarating and the results outweigh most of the risks. When you are aware of the risks, you can plan around them and prevent injury in most cases.

So grab a gym partner and go get your sweat on!


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