Metabolic Conditioning Workouts For Beginners in MMA 🤸‍♂️🥊🏋️‍♂️

Metabolic Conditioning Workouts For Beginners in MMA 🤸‍♂️🥊🏋️‍♂️

The fact that you are reading this article right now shows that you are an athlete determined to take your training beyond the comfort zone. You know in sports circles they say that strength, combined with cardio, is dominance.

As a combat athlete, you need to be among the best-conditioned athletes in the world for you to edge towards the championship. Fights tend to intensify, and one simple mistake can cost you the round or more. Yes, skills training is a priority for you as a fighter. But if you lack the conditioning and the strength to utilize your skills, then they can avail nothing, and as they say, they might be as useless as yesterday!

While training for muscular endurance, explosiveness, agility, strength, speed, and power, the goal is always to develop peak overall physical condition. This is where metabolic conditioning workouts come in to help you deliver the fight.

What Is A Metabolic Conditioning Workout?

These are workouts that use exercises aimed at burning a lot of calories during your workout session. After the workout ends, these exercises make your body to continue burning calories. They engage the entire body.

Their core aim is to push the limits of your body so that you can build endurance and strength while toning the body. They are characterized by short periods of rest. They are tough and challenging exercises and help your overall conditioning to improve fast.

MetCon is short for metabolic conditioning is a dynamic workout session of interval-style training. MetCon utilizes specific and timed groups of exercises, complexes, and circuit training.

This class of exercises is the opposite of, steady-state cardiovascular type of exercises like long sessions on the elliptical or distance running. Instead of an extended duration doing the recumbent bike, or a long time of low-intensity treadmill walking, you engage in vigorous short interval-style training. Cross Fit, Insanity, P90X or high-intensity circuit training are popular types of MetCon.

Why Is Metabolic Conditioning Important?

The secret behind MetCon is not about what you do, but how you do it.

MetCon helps your body burn more calories during as well as after the workout. These exercises involve the entire body compound movements. More than cardio, or strength training alone, adding these exercises to your routine helps you to be more efficient at losing fat and building muscle.

You’re also able to train your body on how to utilize various energy systems with more efficiency. These systems of energy include:

  • Aerobic fitness (Source): how well your body transports and uses oxygen, measured as VO2max. Aerobic respiration is the main source of energy for our steady-state activities.

  • Phosphagen system (Source): creatine phosphate is stored in muscles and provides the necessary phosphate to ADP to form additional ATP. This energy is used for short bursts of exercise like sprinting, powerlifting and striking. This is also known as alactic as lactate is not produced in this mechanism. However, it is short-lived and depletes rapidly when in use. Resting 30 seconds replenishes 70% of the phosphagens and they can be used again.

  • Anaerobic glycolytic system (Source): glucose provides energy via the anaerobic pathway. As a result of this immediate need and slightly longer duration, lactate accumulates in the muscles, inhibiting their contractility. As lactate builds up quicker than it can be removed by the blood, the point where lactate build-up exceeds clearance is known as the lactate threshold. It can be improved with training (related article).

The table below was extracted from Periodization Training For Sports, Bompa, and Buzzichelli, 2015 (Amazon link). Click on the link if you’d like to read more about human kinetics. ☝️

Table illustrating relationship between energy systems and strength training

For a casual gym member, these energy systems may not seem important, but for aspiring athletes, they can tremendously help to boost their game. 

  • Build strength, power, and endurance: MetCon exercises target all your energy pathways in one workout, hence conditioning your body on every level. 

  • High level of fitness: such high-level intensity exercises train you to the point where you can probably tackle every other activity in your daily life. 

  • Short and sweet: the payoff in MetCon exercises is that you work very hard, but only for a short period of ten to thirty minutes 

How Often Should I Do Metabolic Conditioning?

This depends on the level of conditioning you are trying to maintain. 

  • High-level conditioning: include MetCon work 4 to 5 days per week for 20 to 40 minutes 

  • Moderate level of conditioning: include MetCon exercises for 3 to 4 days per week for at least 30 minutes  

  • Low-level conditioning: include MetCon 3 days per week for 20 to 30 minutes

Metabolic Conditioning vs. HIIT

Pull up bar with man doing toe to bar touches

Metabolic conditioning (MetCon) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has a lot in common. Both of these workouts are characterized by high levels of intensity, short rest, and similarities in the types of exercise activities involved during the workout. 

However, there are some differences between the two. MetCon is more of making HIIT exercise more intense. It involves a broader category of exercise that includes HIIT workouts. 

HIIT gets you to work at above 80% effort with specific rest intervals, for a short burst of time. MetCon, on the other hand, makes you perform at the maximum sustained effort.  

MetCon involves more extended periods, lasting for 20 or more minutes. With HIIT, you typically work with fixed, rigid time intervals such as going for thirty seconds on and then thirty seconds off.  

With MetCon, you can work for reps or sets, for a set amount of time, involving resting periods that are relatively longer enough to allow you to catch your breath before transitioning between exercises. This leads to effective muscle-building and fat-burning workout. 

Metabolic Conditioning Training

  1. Resistance training-based conditioning: resistance training equipment is utilized in a circuit style session. Some of the materials used in this are medicine ball, unique pieces such as tires, dumbbells, kettlebells, sledgehammers, and barbells. 

  2. Cardiovascular-based conditioning: more traditional ways of cardio-respiratory training. They include recumbent bikes, sprinting, swimming, rowers and step machines, shuttle runs, running, biking and elliptical. You stoke your metabolic fire by using both short-burst and steady-state interval training. 

  3. Hybrid conditioning: it combines both traditional cardio-style modes and resistance equipment into one effective fat-scorching routine. In a single program, you switch from one to the other to sustain an interesting sure-fire. 

  4. Use of bodyweight and equipment: involves the various ways of manipulating one's bodyweight. Pull-ups, parallel dips, chin-ups, inverted rows, sit-ups crunches, planks, push-ups, and leg lifts result in serious metabolic boosts and body strength. 

  5. Upper/ lower split: you can round up a conditioning program to involve full-body moves, or split a circuit into lower and upper body exercises. Splitting helps you to set specific goals for the upper and lower body. You can focus on power for the lower body and strength for the upper body. 

  6. Peripheral heart action (PHA) training: to make your heart work at a higher intensity, the flow of blood is taken back and forth to peripheral parts by alternating exercises for the upper/ lower body several times. 

  7. Training for time: workout is performed for a time in many MetCon program workouts. Sometimes, speed takes center stage, with technique and form getting compromised for speed. 

  8. Training completion: you condition yourself to do a certain number of reps in each exercise for several rounds and then call it quits. Your conditioning increases as you increase weight and take fewer breaks between workouts.

Periodization Training For Sports, Bompa and Buzzichelli, 2015 (Amazon link). Click on the link if you’d like to read more about human kinetics.

Sample MetCon Workout Routines

Warm-up and stretch dynamically (related article) then try this out:

With little to no rest, repeat 1 to 3 rounds

  • Ten reps inverted rows 

  • Ten reps calf jumps 

  • Twenty reps bicycle crunch or leg lifts 

  • Ten reps jump squat 

  • Ten reps push-ups 

  • Twenty total steps walking lunges

Bodyweight PHA Workout 

Do three to five rounds with three minutes of rest between rounds 

  • Ten reps box jump 

  • Five to ten reps each leg set-ups 

  • Fifteen to twenty reps diamond push-ups 

  • Ten to fifteen reps hanging leg raises 

  • Ten reps revers-grip chin-up 

  • Fifteen to twenty reps fleet-elevated push-ups 

  • Ten reps each leg reverse lunges 

Equipment muscle-builder 

Perform 3 to 5 rounds with 3 minutes of rest between rounds 

  • Five to ten reps clean and press 

  • Ten reps kettlebell front swing 

  • Ten reps each leg weighted walking lunge 

  • Ten reps Ab rollout 

  • Ten reps renegade row 

  • Ten reps Goblet squat 

Hybrid routine 

Do three to five rounds with three minutes of rest between rounds 

  • Five to ten reps each side hanging twisted leg raises

  • Ten reps squat jumps 

  • Five kettlebell push press for each arm 

  • Ten reps renegade rows 

  • Ten reps Plyo push-ups 

  • Ten reps weighted step-ups


Check Out The Video Below For More Advanced MetCon Workouts 👇

This hybrid power workout is a great way to work more muscle, burn more fat and get you out of the gym fast. The hybrid power workout uses compound exercises that work muscle groups at once with a combination of two exercises in one hybrid move.

Supplements And Post Workout Recovery 

Supplements such as creatine (related article), beet juice (Source), and carbohydrates can help with athletic performance in the following ways:

  • Support muscle development 

  • Improves-post-workout renewal process. 

  • Lead to increased muscle performance 

  • Increased muscle strength 

  • Improves endurance 

  • Causes better nutrition, oxygenation, and blood supply to the muscles. 

  • Improve exercise capacity by increasing strength and speed-strength

As an athlete, you should learn to nail your recovery. There are two foundational recovery techniques which you must not miss: 

  1. Nutrition: take a balanced diet meal after your workouts. Your body needs it to reenergize your muscles.

  2. Sleep (related article): always make sure that you get enough sleep for at least eight hours. Your muscles need to relax, recover, and get replenished. 

Remember that your competitors are probably eating and sleeping well. You don’t want to fall behind. Ensure that you train optimally and recovery as much as you can to be ready for the next session.

Periodization Training For Sports, Bompa and Buzzichelli, 2015 (Amazon link). Click on the link if you’d like to read more about human kinetics.

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