MetCon (Metabolic conditioning) is all about improving the efficiency of your body’s energy systems. Admittedly not something that’s entirely necessary for those of us who aren’t planning to smash the 800m world record the week after next. But there is a good reason why many athletes often look like they'd be quite comfortable dressed in a toga, shooting lightning bolts from the clouds. The minimal body fat and HD muscle tone are direct results of the conditioning they commit to in order to perform in their chosen sport.
The Gymbox MetCon class I attended seems to have taken the conditioning principles of endurance athletes and married them with the fat loss principles for your average Joe/Joanne. What your left with is high intensity cardio, with rest breaks just long to catch your breath, and just short enough to stop you sneak-crawling out the door.
The longer training intervals, 1 minute or so, of exercise and short rest periods work for two main reasons, they recruit both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, over time, this improves your performance and heart health. The intervals also challenge your mental strength. They push you past your own psychological boundaries, because trust me, no matter how hot the burn is in your thighs, they won’t actually set alight.
Our class was led by instructor Lawrence (pictured below) who like myself, enjoys basing cardio workouts around the legs. The main reason I prefer this is because the legs can move the whole body with ease (walking) but they also contain a large amount of your type 1 muscle fibres, the ones that prefer to work with oxygen, meaning they can keep going for longer, all you need to do is breathe. The class was full of jumps, squats, lunges and burpees, some with light kettle bells, and some purely bodyweight.
The general make-up of the circuits were two weight based movements, with a third and final movement being a bodyweight exercise, this helps you push on for the last of each round knowing that it should be just a little easier than the two exercises that came before it.
Perhaps the toughest movement was a weighted burpee, jumping into the air with a kettle bell held between our legs. It's hard enough at this point to peel yourself off the floor from lying down, but knowing you’ve now got to launch right back up again takes some real determination, I think burpees are so hard because they remind us all of getting out of bed in the morning, which as we know, is arguably the most difficult part of being an adult.
All in all the class was a lot of fun, and bloody tough, not for casual beginner, but definitely worth a go for anybody who considers themselves to have a relatively healthy level of fitness. For those of you who do exercise regularly and get bored with the bog standard running on the spot and star jumps type cardio, variations like this can really help you to stay focused and relish in the hellish challenge.
PS 30-45 minutes of intense cardio keeps you burning fat more efficiently for around 8 hours afterwards. I'm not saying it justifies lunch at Greggs, but it is worth knowing that naughty is a little less naughty for the other half of your day.