If you're familiar with the fitness scene, you may have heard of high-intensity metcon, which promises a faster metabolism, weight loss, and muscle growth packaged into a short but efficient workout. These workouts differ from traditional, more familiar forms of exercise, like cardio and weightlifting, as they pack many techniques into one intense, condensed workout.

What is Metcon

The term "metcon" stands for "metabolic conditioning", a type of training that has gained popularity in the last few years, primarily due to CrossFit-style workouts. These workouts tax the body to burn fat, build muscle, and increase endurance.

Metcon workouts are brief but concentrated, relying on short periods of intense exertion followed by lower intensity exercise, alternating until the workout is complete.

woman with kettlebell doing pushup workout


How Metcon Works

By cycling through periods of intense exercise and lower-intensity movement, metcon workouts fire up the body's metabolism to burn energy stores. These workouts demand a lot of the body and force it to burn energy efficiently, building endurance over time.

In addition, metcon incorporates challenging moves like running, kettlebell swings, burpees, and other exercises that rely on explosive strength.

woman doing box jumps at the gym


Why Try Metcon

There are many reasons to try metcon workouts. If you're looking to lose weight, metcon can help you burn through energy stored as fat, helping you shed pounds when paired with a caloric deficit and healthy diet. Those looking to build muscle and a toned physique find metcon training helpful since the workouts pack a lot of resistance training into a shorter workout.

people working out at a gym


Types of Metcon Workouts

Metcon often employs two workout styles. The "as many reps as possible" (AMRAP) style gives participants a set amount of time to complete as many repetitions as they can before moving on to the next exercise without rest.

Alternatively, the "Every Minute On The Minute" (EMOM) style tasks participants to complete a set number of reps in less than 60 seconds, using the remaining time for recovery before moving on to the next exercise at the top of the next minute.

group of people jumping rope at the gym


Benefits of Metcon

Aside from fat loss and muscle growth, metcon workouts improve endurance, making them an excellent crosstraining option for runners and other athletes. It's also an effective workout for those who are short on time but want to fit an intense workout into their busy schedule.

Shorter metcon circuits can also be added to your existing workout regimen to add some extra fat-burning and cardiovascular conditioning.

woman doing explosive jump workout outside


Metcon vs. HIIT

Metcon and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are often mentioned together since they both use a circuit method. However, metcon alternates both high-intensity and lower-intensity exercises to tax and condition the body's metabolism, while HIIT workouts use timed intervals of high-intensity exercise only.

However, standard HIIT intervals can be combined with metcon circuits to facilitate extra conditioning.

man running intervals on outdoor stairs


Metcon vs. Weightlifting

Overall, metcon workouts are more intense and burn more calories than traditional weightlifting but are more taxing. Weightlifting focuses on completing a set number of lift repetitions at a particular weight, resting between moves. Though metcon often incorporates weightlifting moves, its emphasis on quick movement between exercises and including lower-intensity exercises to eliminate rest separates it from weightlifting.

You can add metcon circuits at the end of a weightlifting workout to add cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning to a workout that is otherwise purely focused on strength.

woman lifting a barbell at the gym


Metcon vs. Cardio

Cardio can be intense, whether it's high- or low-impact. Both increase cardiovascular health, but metcon workouts are more effective for muscle building and conditioning. Since cardio doesn't rely on resistance training, it doesn't fatigue muscles to build muscle.

So, if you're looking to burn fat and get stronger, incorporating metcon circuits into your fitness routine may give more results than cardio alone.

older couple running on treadmills


Who Should Try Metcon

Experienced gym-goers and weightlifters are prime candidates for metcon workouts, as they'll recognize familiar moves within the fast-paced circuit. Incorporating metcon circuits into your regimen can help you build more muscle or lose more weight than standard exercise routines alone if you're already familiar with the gym or have your own equipment.

fit women working out in gym


Who Shouldn't Try Metcon

Metcon workouts aren't for beginners. If you're new to exercise, metcon isn't a great place to start. Start slow to build your exercise tolerance and familiarity with the exercises — specifically the correct form. Consider beginning with high-intensity interval training before transitioning into metcon.

young woman struggling in fitness class


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