Cardio Through Strength Training: The Metabolic Workout
If you’re looking for cardiovascular benefits with resistance training rather than aerobics, there is a way. In fact, metabolic training workouts can actually produce greater cardiovascular response than standard aerobic workouts in some cases.

Here’s what you need to know about metabolic conditioning workouts.

What Are Metabolic Training Workouts?

Metabolic training workouts allow you to combine strength training with cardio by controlling the time of your workout. Standard strength training regimens often involve getting through a set as fast as possible and then taking a longer break than you need.

Instead, the metabolic approach suggests you take your time getting through the set to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit, then only taking a brief rest before moving on to the next set or exercise.

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What Is the “Freeze Test?”

The freeze test is a way for you to determine if you are using the right rep speed in your sets. The idea is that you should be able to just freeze and hold the resistance at any point during a strength exercise. If you can’t, you’re probably moving too fast.

What Is the Stopwatch Test?

One big issue many people have when strength training — and a reason why many don’t get the cardiovascular benefits they could from a strength training workout — is too much rest between exercises.

People are rarely aware of any hard and fast rules with respect to how long they should take before getting on to the next exercise, but you should really not rest for longer than 30 seconds. If you are at a high fitness level, you should be able to get on to the next exercise in the time it takes you to settle into the next machine or bench.

A way to see if you’re resting too much during a workout is through the stopwatch test. Use one stopwatch to clock your total time in the gym, from the first rep of the first exercise to the last rep of the last one. Use the other one to only mark the time when you’re actually engaged in an exercise. When you’re done, if you’re doing eight to 12 full-body strength training exercises, you should have clocked about half an hour of actual work time.

In addition, your work time should be a major percentage of your overall gym time. If either of these numbers don’t stack up the way they should, you need to make some adjustments.

What Is Intensity of Effort?

Intensity of effort refers to the mindset to go the extra mile and work past psychological barriers. You don’t want to go in with predetermined limitations on your performance. Don’t decide you’re going to do ten reps, pick the heaviest weight
you can find and then just try to squeeze them out as fast as possible.

Instead, pick a challenging but not excessively heavy weight and crank out as many reps as you can, with a full range of motion, until muscle failure. This is a true metabolic workout that can produce better results.

Metabolic training can be superior to traditional cardio workouts because you’re making an active effort to maximize the benefits of your workout while taking advantage of resistance training benefits. If you’re already doing cardio on your off days, a metabolic workout can further boost your cardiovascular benefits.

The point is, you’re taking the time to improve your health and fitness — so why not optimize that time and maximize the benefits you can receive? You’ve made the commitment to exercise, but it won’t be truly meaningful until you commit to going all the way. Metabolic conditioning workouts are a great way to start.

For more tips and information on better exercise and fitness, visit the Excellence in Fitness blog today.