It’s Not All About Pain: 5 Metabolic Workout Myths
You probably have a friend who looks amazing thanks to an intense workout plan—whether he used series of follow-along DVDs, signed up for boot camp classes, or joined a trendy hard-core fitness group. And that's not surprising. Work hard, and you'll see results. Rocket science, right?
But just because something works doesn't mean it's your best option. Or even that it's a good option at all. These intense workout plans all include a type of training called "metabolic training." Its goal is, in short, to increase your metabolism. That means you'll burn fat not only during your workout, but at work, in your car, even while you're sleeping.
How does it work? In a typical metabolic-style workout, you'll do resistance exercises at a fast pace, usually with some short rest periods between each move. For example, you'll perform squats continuously for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, do pushups for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat that cycle for a total of four minutes.
Only four minutes? That's right—metabolic workouts are fast. That's part of their appeal. In a study from Azusa Pacific University, subjects who did a 4-minute routine similar to the one above burned 63 calories during the workout and an additional 297 calories afterward.
There's a reason this type of training is so popular right now: It works. If you want to lose body fat, it's the best type of exercise you can do. But metabolic training is a relatively new arrival to the fitness mainstream. And as any first-gen iPhone user knows, it takes a while to work out the kinks.
So with the help from the country's leading metabolic training experts, we've busted the top 5 metabolic training myths.
OK, jumping exercises are great for fat loss. "But they're terrible for your joints," says B.J. Gaddour, C.S.C.S., the creator of the Speed Shred DVD series. "Take a look at the testimonials for some of the intense workout plans. You see people with bands around their knees from knee injuries."
Instead of jumping on and off a box with your feet together, try this: Jump onto a 12- to 20-inch box with both feet. Then step off the box one foot at a time.
"This gives you all the power and fat-loss benefits of a jumping exercise without destroying your joints," Gaddour says.
Go hard or go home? Hardly. "We've begun to value how 'extreme' a program is more than the results it can produce," says Martin Rooney, C.S.C.S., author of Warrior Cardio.
"But if you're so sore you can't move for days, you can't train and you've damaged your body in a way that makes it more difficult to recover." When you're done, it should feel like you could do one more set or go for a couple more minutes. Leave some gas in your tank.
"You don't get any results from training," says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in San Clarita, California.
"You need training plus recovery to get results." Avoid exercising more than two days in a row. "Two days on, one day off seems to be the perfect recovery for most people," Cosgrove says.
A metabolic exercise doesn't have to make you out of breath to be effective, Gaddour says. Why? Resistance training is a great way to increase your metabolism. One study found that the metabolic boost from a full-body weightlifting session lasted for 72 hours.
A must-try move: The hip hinge and row. "It works nearly every pulling muscle in your body, particularly your hips and shoulders, which are the most metabolically active tissues you have," Gaddour says.
Watch the video below to see how to perform this slow, controlled metabolic exercise.
Some popular programs call for high repetitions of technical exercises like cleans, snatches, and overhead squats—even when you're exhausted. The problem: "With these exercises, your form will fail before you ever get a metabolic response," Cosgrove says. That's why Cosgrove likes what he calls self-limiting exercises. These are exercises that, once you're fatigued, you simply can't do anymore.
Take a pushup. After a certain number of pushups, you won't be able to raise your body off the floor. Basically, they're hard to mess up. Planks, pull-ups, and bottoms-up kettlebell presses are other examples.
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I can attest to #1. Box jumps threw out my back back in 2006 and took me 4 months to completely recover. In fact, anytime I jump, I usually injure myself haha. I stretch a lot and use the foam roller a lot now a days before and after a workout - recovery time is enhanced greatly.
This is quite an annoying article. I've been reading Men's Health (UK) for years now, and box jumps have been used as an example of a method to actually "bomb-proof" your knees! It's a shame that such a huge magazine can produce such a contradictory view! Sorry to hear about your back @dadoody, have you tried yoga at all? I found it really helped ease my back pain after I got injured!
right? I don't think I could do that. I get too antsy and just want to hit the gym
I know, I thought the same thing when I saw that. I go for no less than 5 days before a rest day unless I HAVE to. 2 days? no way man!
I think They were referring to this type of training specifically. Since These are normally full body workouts its hard to not have a rest day after 2 of them back to back. If anything light cardio , but 5 days straight of full body workouts would annihilate me personally. This is definitely a great way to burn fat efficiently.
p90x seems like you have to invest a huge amount of time - say 5 hours of INTENSE mostly aerobic work, whereas 3 or 4 days of Intense Resistance Training for 45 min. each would deliver mostly the same results --- with 1/10 the stress on your joints.
Have you tried Insanity? I've gave it a go a while back and it was pretty good. I didn't follow the 60-day plan, but I used the DVD's maybe 3 times a week over the course of 3 months or so. I DEFINITELY got fitter and a better strength to weight ratio. I've never tried p90x, anyone tried both p90x and insanity and can give a comparison? Thanks.
This article is sub par...The website does itself
A disservice, in terms of reputation and quality of information, by posting articles like this. This is kind of a shame b/c there are a lot of good articles posted as well--though sometimes you have to sift through to find one. The trouble is not everyone has the background or knowledge to know what constitutes good information, they will get steered down an ineffective path. This article was shown in
Men's health, which just goes to show that you don't need a phd in exercise physiology to write for them, or most fitness mags, for that matter!
That's a great point. It is difficult to understand what is "good" or "correct" information when stumbling across many of the articles out there. I think the best thing to do is to read as much as possible and try out various styles/routines/exercises to see which works best for your body. I say, if you don't enjoy something, you shouldn't be doing it, unless of course that means skipping legs day! Every day is NOT upper body day lol. I guess that is the eternal joy of training, there is no right or wrong answer, and different things work for different people, so you can never follow a specific formula, perhaps doing those concentration curls wouldn't have been as beneficial as doing preacher curls, but you'd never know! THIS is why I love training, you can experience so many different things and not know what's going to happen.
Additional caveat to #1: Any sort of intense exercise where you're slamming your body into the floor and pushing yourself back up again is terrible. I used to do sets of burpees as fast as humanly possible. Go figure, I had weak wrists to start, and aggravated the problem to where I had to start wearing wrist supports all day. No fun.
I think that doing certain exercises quickly can be beneficial. I mean people criticise Crossfit athletes for their somewhat dubious form on certain exercises, but you can't argue that some of these guys and girls are in fantastical shape, both to look at, and functionally. You HAVE to be careful though, beginners should get adequate training before they attempt that sort of thing, so on that basis you are totally right! I don't see an issue with doing an exercise quickly if your form is correct.
I'm going to try the 2 days on 1 day off schedule. I've always gone to the gym 5 or 6 days a week and after like the 5th or 6th week I begin to feel really burnt out and just not into anything, and even lose my appetite. I don't know why, but it takes me like a week, sometimes more for me to get back in the gym and eating clean again. I hope it helps out.