6 Workouts for Metabolic Conditioning


1 Improved Work Capacity

Whether we’re doing aerobic or anaerobic conditioning, we’re increasing our work output potential. Work capacity is our body’s ability to positively tolerate, adapt to, and recover from training stress.

The better our oxygen uptake and the fitter we are, the longer we’re going to last during our training sets, and the more total work we’ll be able to handle. The greater your work capacity and the more stress your body can handle, the more bulletproof you become.

2 Improved VO2 Max

Also called “maximal oxygen uptake,” it refers to the maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during intense or maximal exercise.

The greater your VO2 max, the more efficient your heart and veins become at pumping blood into your working muscles. Although traditionally considered an endurance-performance enhancer, it helps lifters become well-rounded, healthier, stronger, and more muscular.

As a lifter, you should want the ability to pump more blood into your working muscles.

3 It Trains Multiple Energy Systems

Conditioning affords us the ability to train all of our energy systems within a given training week. If you’re always lifting, you primarily use the phosphagen and glycolytic systems but neglect your aerobic system.

The added benefit of training your aerobic system dynamically compared to traditional steady-state cardio is the versatility of training and, consequently, the preservation and potential increase of lean muscle mass.

The simplest example is sprinting, but it can also include combined methods like pushing a sled and doing a loaded carry, single modalities like swimming and running, high-intensity intervals, mixed modality training, strongman endurance, and more.

4 Faster Recovery

Circulation and movement between training sessions actually speed up the recovery process by eliminating waste build-up, removing toxins, keeping muscles pliable, and reducing soreness.

Contrary to popular belief, lying down all day isn’t the best form of recovery after having a tough workout. This is the difference between passive recovery and active recovery.

Swimming, biking, light running, walking, hiking, kayaking, sled work, and carries are all viable options. If your body isn’t feeling super sore, moderately programmed aerobic and anaerobic sprint work can work too. Think tempo intervals on the AirBike or Ski Erg.

5 Increased Life-Expectancy

Looking strong and lifting a lot of weight is great, but so is living longer. Life expectancy is directly related to our aerobic fitness and can prevent premature death by fighting heart disease, stroke, and inflammation.

Conditioning also improves mitochondrial density: your body’s energy powerhouse. Fewer mitochondria equate to lower ATP production, lower oxidative capacity, diminished antioxidant defense, and weakened immune system, which negatively impacts our health.

6 Health and Mood Booster

Conditioning improves your life, not just physically but mentally. Conditioning that challenges the body’s musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems in a way that’s different than lifting is great for the body and mind.

As long as you don’t overdo it, your joints will feel better and your workouts will improve. Your mind gets a chance to escape to something different. Your body needs rest days to grow anyway, so why not do something that’s as beneficial physically as it is mentally.

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