All About Metcon

Want to learn more about metcon, one of a CrossFitter’s favorite WODs (workouts of the day)? Experienced athletes take note: once you start, you’re not going to want to stop. This training method could be just the thing to satisfy your hunger for challenges that will push your physical limits to new heights!

What’s metcon?

“Metcon” is short for metabolic conditioning. It’s a type of CrossFit workout made up of one or several tough exercises that will quickly improve your overall conditioning.

Metabolic conditioning is based on prolonged periods of high-intensity activity. The key concept with metcon is that the athlete moves from one exercise to another with minimal rest between them while maintaining a specific rep scheme and quality of movement.

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This training method works both your muscles and cardio endurance to improve your general fitness (muscles, cardio, resistance and power).

Metcon workouts put varying degrees of stress on the body in minimum time in order to force it to adapt and improve its ability to sustain intense physical effort despite fatigue. These workouts are great ways for athletes to test their strength, technique and physical fitness.

How does a typical metcon workout go?

A metcon workout follows a circuit training format where you do a series of exercises with varying intensities and lengths with brief rest periods between each one. You can rest when and if you need to and decide how long each rest period will last.

Types of metcon workouts

There are several types of metcon workouts. You can do a whole range of different activities with metcon, such as running, strength training with or without weights, weightlifting, swimming, cycling and kettlebell training. By doing a variety of these sports, you’ll experience a combination exercises that will help keep you motivated, shake up your routine and force your body to withstand a mix of different physical demands.

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Here are two typical types of metcon workouts: time priority workouts and task priority workouts.

Task priority workouts

This is typically what we call “rounds for time,” meaning that you’ll have a series of tasks to do as fast as you can while maintaining the proper technique. However, the time isn’t fixed.

Time priority workouts

This is typically what we call “AMRAP” (as many reps or rounds as possible). For this workout, you have to do as many reps or rounds as you can over a fixed period of time.

FizzUp’s Metcon programs

Within FizzUp’s programs Metcon and Metcon Ultimate, you’ll also go through a “skills” development phase that will have you practice your technique for the more basic movements, then two to four metcon sprint-style workouts (21-15-9 reps) using two to three exercises. The “21-15-9” workout is one of cross-training’s signature workout repetition schemes. The name comes from the number of reps you do. In a circuit of two to three exercises, you’ll do 21 reps of each exercise, then 15 of each, then 9 reps of each.

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The goal is to do all the reps as fast as you can while still using the correct technique. This type of metcon workout also improves your working capacity and your ability to exert a high-intensity physical effort with as little fatigue as possible.

But if you can’t do all the reps in a single set (for instance, 21 pull-ups or 15 push-ups), you can split the set into several chunks and take a short break between each one.

Here’s an example of a “21-15-9” metcon workout with pull-ups and push-ups:

If you start with 21 reps of pull-ups, it can be a real challenge to do all of them in one go, even for experienced athletes. This is an opportunity to apply the simple strategy of splitting the sets. Here’s how you can do it:

First, do 12 reps, which should bring you close to failure (to learn more about the “training to failure” technique, click here). Next, rest for 10 to 20 seconds (depending on how much time you need), then do the last 9 reps to do a total of 21 reps. Then move on to push-ups and try to do all 21 reps in one go.

You can take a break after your 21 reps are done, or move straight on to the next circuit. Start with 9 reps of pull-ups, then take a short break. Next, do 6 reps to do a total of 15 reps. Then move on to 15 reps of push-ups, which you may or may not be able to do in one go.

To finish up this metcon workout, do another 9 reps of pull-ups, followed by 9 more reps of push-ups. That’s an entire metcon workout: it might be short, but it’s also effective and intense.

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Are you up for the challenge? Then start your Metcon program (bodyweight only) or Metcon Ultimate (with dumbbells or a barbell) now!

Further reading

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