Functional Training for Muay Thai, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts

Metabolic Training for Combat Sports

Metabolic training equipmentMetabolic Training is the core method of our combat conditioning system. It is the fastest and most efficient way to improve explosive strength and muscular endurance for combat sports. As an added bonus, it burns insane amounts of fat per session. This is how I train fighters and PT clients alike. Even the group classes are designed with Metacon (metabolic conditioning) components. What is Metabolic Training or Metabolic Conditioning? In simplest terms it refers to exercises that will improve or enhance the body’s energy systems - the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

  • Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen and anaerobic means without oxygen. Aerobic activities involve low intensity exercises that are performed for 15 minutes or more, such as biking, swimming and jogging.
  • Anaerobic activities involve moderate to high-intensity activities that are performed anywhere from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes. An example is a kettlebell circuit, a round on Thai Pads, or high-intensity heavy bag training.

A popular misconception is that if people wanted to lose fat, they would go jogging. Jogging seems to be the exercise of choice for fat loss. The truth is, you don't burn enough calories during the workout to amount to any substantial fat loss.

More importantly, jogging does not produce an EPOC(excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)effect. On the other hand, moderate to high intensity metabolic training does. EPOC refers to the elevated state of oxygen consumption after exercise in an effort to bring the body back to its pre-exercise state. Simply put, not only are you burning far more calories during the high-intensity metabolic training workout (which could be only 10-15 minutes in duration compared to 30-45), you are also going to continue burning calories for some time after training because your metabolism stays revved up.

Higher metabolism for a longer period of time = increased fat burning power!

Workout less and get better results.  However, nothing comes for free. Unlike jogging or running where you can coast comfortably after a few minutes when your second wind kicks in, with metabolic training you will have to work harder than you've probably every done before. It will take you outside your comfort zone and introduce burn to muscles you never thought you had!

Metabolic Training Format

Bodyweight training

Probably the easiest format of metabolic training consists of timed sets, such as 1 min of exercise followed by 15 – 30 seconds of rest.  This format would usually be repeated for about 10 – 15 minutes.  All the variables will be dependent on your fitness levels.

You might ask can this be used with traditional resistance training exercises like push-ups and squats.  The answer is of course, a lot of people call it metabolic resistance training.  It may also include weights such as dumbells and kettlebells for resistance. To figure out the amount of weight you should use, take the amount of weight you can lift for 10 repetitions and just use 60% of that number.  Because of the speed of movement used you will not need a lot of weight and in most cases no weight at all is better. You may have to go a little lighter for some exercises.  The idea is to work as hard and as fast (still with very good form) as you can for the entire minute. The amount of exercises used per session can vary anywhere from 3 – 5 for beginners, or 5-10 for intermediate and advanced students. Make sure you are completely warmed-up before you begin this workout.

Choosing Exercises

The exercises you choose for metabolic training are important, some exercises just don’t work.  On the other hand, some exercises may work for one format of training but not for another.  Same thing with individual people, if you are not strong enough for push-ups yet, don't push it (pun intended).  The exercises really need to be total body in nature,  so a bicep curl would not work. Use compound movements that impact as many joints as possible.

Sample Workouts

I have included 3 sample workouts, a beginner, an intermediate and an advanced workout.  If you aren’t sure what fitness level you are, start at the beginner level, it is always easier to go up rather than start too high and become injured.

Important note:  if you are new to exercise and just starting out, I do not recommend metabolic training.  I make sure all of my new clients have a 6-week training base before they start this type of training.

Beginner Workout

  • Lunges with 3kg medicine ball (alternating legs)- 1 minute
  • Burpees – 30 seconds
  • Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds

In between each set take a 30 second rest break.  Repeat 3 times to make 1 round.  You may go for two rounds with a 1 to 2-minute rest in-between.

Intermediate Workout

  • Squat-and-Press with 3kg medicine ball - 30 seconds
  • Squat Jumps with 3kg medicine ball – 30 seconds
  • Mountain Climbers – 1 minute

In between each set take a 15 – 30 second rest break.  Repeat 4 times to make 1 round.  After round 1 repeat this for 2 to 3 more rounds.  Take about a 2 minute water break in between rounds.

Advanced Workout

  • Squat thrusts – 1 minute
  • Kettlebell Alternating Front Swings – 1 minute
  • Push-Ups – 30 seconds
  • Kettlebell Alternating Snatches – 1 minute
  • Squat Jumps with 3kg medicine ball – 30 seconds

For the advanced workout only use the rest periods in between sets if necessary and if used try to keep them down to 15 seconds.  Repeat this workout for 4 rounds.  Rest about a minute if needed in between rounds.

If you are short on time and do not want to add another day to your workout schedule, add 10 minutes of metabolic training to the end of your current workout.  Full metabolic workouts should only be done 4 times a week.