What is Metabolic Resistance Training?
This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. There’s a lot of “hoopla” about metabolic resistance training recently and there’s also been a lot of questions.
What exactly is metabolic resistance training?
What is metabolic conditioning?
What is a metabolic finisher and when can I use it?
Let’s break it down, piece by piece, so you can understand how metabolic resistance training (also known as MRT) can play a role in your fat loss.
I’ve trained with numerous methods since I’ve been a trainer, and just being transparent, MRT is the most effective way to lose fat and literally transforming your body. However, it is also the most challenging.
Still with me? Awesome… you’re such a cool cat.
Metabolic resistance training is resistance training using non-competing supersets and circuits with incomplete recovery. It also incorporates mainly big, compound “calorie-expensive” moves like Chest Presses, Rows, Squats, etc., etc.
Say what? I know, I know.
In other words, below is an example of a MRT circuit:
1A) Squat (8)
1B) DB Row (8/side)
1C) DB Chest Press (10)
Rest 1 minute and repeat 2 more times
You can see obviously, that these moves are quite metabolically demanding, and using them in a circuit fashion with just one minute of rest means you will be training with an elevated heart rate.
Like I said, MRT is very challenging and nowhere close to being easy. That’s probably why it works so well.
One client simply looked at a MRT program and immediately felt her pants become looser.
No, not really… but c’mon, that would rock.
Just because the example above doesn’t show any bodyweight exercises doesn’t mean that they don’t fall under the MRT umbrella. Bodyweight exercises can certainly be used in MRT workouts.
Things to Keep in Mind with MRT
The “more difficult” moves should be early on in the workout so you can give them your best effort. In other words, you wouldn’t perform DB Curls and DB Tricep Extensions followed by Pullups and Squats.
And most of the time, the heavier lifting will be performed early on as well. As you progress through the program, the moves will typically get “easier”, but the program is still challenging… trust me.
Although I’m talking about circuits, MRT can also be set up with supersets. Either one is still considered MRT as long as you are using mainly big compound movements and incomplete recovery. So, a MRT superset might be something like this:
1A) BB Narrow Stance Squat (8)
1B) Pullups (1 rep short of failure)
Rest 1 minute and repeat 2 more times
Your heart will be pumping after just one superset with the right intensity. What’s the right
intensity? That’s a whole new discussion. But here’s a little wisdom nugget – use a weight in which you can only lift for one more rep than prescribed (but don’t train to failure). That’s the optimized intensity.
Mike, This is the Best Explanation of MRT in All the Land. Can You Tell Me About Metabolic Conditioning Training?
Good gracious. That’s a freakishly long headline. Well played.
Metabolic Conditioning Training (MCT) is pretty close to MRT, however, it’s typically in circuit fashion with less resistance. Most MCT circuits use a mixture of high rep DB/KB/Strap moves, along with bodyweight exercises.
This is the ultimate way to replace cardio. It can also be a replacement for interval training. For the most part, it shouldn’t interfere with recovery, but as always, you must listen to your body.
Seeing is believing, so take a look at the circuit below for an example of metabolic conditioning:
1A) Lunge Jumps (10/side)
1B) TRX Inverted Row (15)
1C) Close-Grip Pushups (20)
1D) KB/DB Swings (20)
Rest 1 minute and repeat 3 more times
This MCT circuit has a mixture of bodyweight exercises, TRX and DB/KB moves. The high reps will get your heart pumping, and just like MRT, you incorporate incomplete recovery.
Many MCT circuits will have a high number of exercises in succession, creating this “cardio” effect. I hate that word, but it gives you an idea of what it will feel like. I’ve written and seen MCT circuits have as high as 15 exercises in succession with just one minute of rest.
If that won’t help you get up and down the stairs effortlessly, I don’t know what will.
Can I Use Both MRT and MCT for Fat Loss?
The cool, hip answer – yeah, mang.
Ha-ha… “mang”. So fun.
Anyway, yes you certainly can. Obviously, you don’t want to do an entire MRT workout followed by MCT. Your nervous system can’t take that. If you find yourself craving to do some MCT after a MRT session, I have some bad news for you. You didn’t give the MRT workout the right intensity.
Your most optimal way to set up a MRT and MCT program is a 4-day system with a day of light activity after 2 days of workouts.
What?? Yeah, it’s just easier if I show a great MRT/MCT schedule:
Day 1 (Monday) – MRT workout
Day 2 (Tuesday) – MCT workout
Day 3 (Wednesday) – Off day
Day 4 Thursday) – MRT workout
Day 5 (Friday) – MCT workout
Day 6 (Saturday) – Off day
Day 7 (Sunday) – Off day
This is the ultimate schedule to burn fat and chisel muscle.
What Should I Do on My Off Day?
Stay active, but keep the intensity light. MRT and MCT demands a lot of the body, so you want to recover between workouts so you can give your best effort at each session.
You can go for a 30-minute walk or light jog, or 3 rounds of the bodyweight warm-up you use before each session. You don’t use a bodyweight warm-up before your workouts? I’m shaking my head… yet a whole new discussion.
What About Metabolic Fat Loss Finishers?
Ohhhh baby, my favorite. Metabolic Fat Loss Finishers (MFF), also known as a Workout Finisher, is the “grand finale” you plug in at the end of a strength session.
I explain finishers more in detail here, but the short answer is very intense exercise with very short rest periods. Let’s just say they are designed to “finish” you off.
Here’s the thing – you don’t need a finisher after a MCT session. MCT and MFF are very similar, however a MFF is much shorter and more intense. But your nervous system won’t be able to allow you to put in the necessary effort to perform both MCT and MFF with the right intensity.
So, use finishers after MRT or your normal strength session. I’ve had clients recently use them on off days, and surprisingly, they enjoy that and they told me it keeps them “mentally engaged” with their goals.
If you start using finishers on your “off” days, please let me know your feedback on this blog. I personally use them after my workouts and my off days are typically long walks getting cool article ideas like this one
What are the Benefits of Metabolic Resistance Training?
- To me, the best part of MRT training is much like using finishers – they are mentally and physically challenging, allowing you to get addicted to working out. When you’re addicted, you stay consistent. Consistency = Fat Loss
- Accelerated fat loss (but you have to put in the work)
- Gain muscle and lose fat at the same time if that is what your goal is
- Improved aerobic capacity and conditioning (you will find yourself getting up and down the stairs effortlessly – which is huge)
- Break a fat loss plateau
So, let’s gather in a large circle kids.
What did we learn?
1) The difference between MRT and MCT workouts and how to lay them out in the best optimized schedule
2) When to use and NOT use Metabolic Finishers
3) Why MRT can make such a huge difference in your fat loss
I personally have used Craig Ballantyne’s MRT programs for years, as well as my coaching clients.
It’s hard work, but they did get $4,000 in transformation contest money. If you’re looking for an easy workout plan, than Craig’s MRT program isn’t for you.
May you never, EVER, get bored with your workouts,