What is a MetCon?
Metabolic Conditioning is the second level of our CrossFit pyramid model, right above Nutrition! But, what exactly does it mean and how does it work?
When we train at CrossFit, every day is different for a reason. Some days we focus on heavy lifting such as a one rep max back squat; other days we focus on long distance running like a 5k run, and some days we have AMRAPs with explosive movements like box jumps or Olympic lifts. These are all forms of “cardio”! They just use different energy systems.
“Aerobic training” is a type of training when we engage in low-power efforts for several minutes at a time. An example of this would be long distance running like a 5k run. Aerobic training is beneficial because it increases our respiratory endurance, increases stamina and decreases body fat.
“Anaerobic training” is a type of training when we exert moderate-to-high power movements within just a few seconds of time. An example of this would be fast, explosive movements such as an Olympic lift or a box jump. Anaerobic training benefits power, speed, strength, and muscle mass. It also benefits cardiovascular function and decreases body fat! In fact, research has found that anaerobic exercise is superior to aerobic exercise for fat loss.
As you can tell, both of these types of training are beneficial for CrossFit athletes to be well-rounded in the gym. But we do not want to focus too much on one style of training!
CrossFit combines both of these training methods (aerobic and anaerobic conditioning) through Metabolic Conditioning. A “MetCon” is an interval-style of work out. Short bursts of explosive movement with rest. An example of interval-style workouts is TABATA: 20s of work, 10s of rest. When we engage in interval-style training we get all of the cardiovascular benefit of endurance work without losing strength, speed, and power.