What is metabolic conditioning and should I add It to my training? (Runner's World)

Posted: Oct 12, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Runner's World on October 12, 2023.


What is metabolic conditioning and should I add It to my training?

By Danielle Zickl

You all know that to boost your overall performance, nab that PB, and prevent injury, you need to do more than just run. You also need to hit the gym, or the weights you keep in the living room - because you can build strength and endurance even at home with metabolic conditioning - also known as MetCon.

We talked to exercise physiologist Pete McCall and Kenny Santucci, a personal trainer in New York City who works with runners regularly, to explain what MetCon actually is and how it can help you become an all-around stronger runner.

What Is Metabolic Conditioning?

When you think of metabolic conditioning (MetCon), options like a HIIT workout or bootcamp class probably come to mind. Though group fitness classes may have made the term more popular, McCall and Santucci say people have been doing the types of workouts that incorporate metabolic conditioning – a mix of strength training and cardio in one session – for ages.

MetCon workouts use your body’s three metabolic or energy systems (or pathways) –phosphagen, glycolytic, and oxidative – all of which play a key role in how your body stores and uses up energy. First, a quick refresher on these energy systems:

Phosphagen: This is the first energy system your body turns to immediately during the first few reps of an activity, or during short, intense bursts such as sprinting or a few heavyweight lifting reps, which fuels muscle contractions. The phosphagen system supplies this instant energy to your body with a chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is essentially energy that is converted from food.

Glycolytic: This second energy system kicks in after the phosphagen system tires out –anywhere from one to 30 seconds, according to the American Council on Exercise. This system produces ATP quickly for larger, longer bursts of activities that last anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes. (Think: longer intervals.)

Oxidative (a.k.a aerobic): This energy system requires oxygen, and is the go-to for endurance activities like long runs or marathons.


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