Vail Daily column: Metabolic conditioning provides an efficient workout |

Vail Daily column: Metabolic conditioning provides an efficient workout

Dan Ramker

Living in the Vail Valley, we want to spend much of our time outside doing what we love, whether it’s biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding or kayaking. Moreover, we want to be performing at peak levels when doing our favorite activities. One of the great attributes of metabolic conditioning, or “met-con,” is how time efficient it is. You can reap tremendous rewards from just a short session of metabolic conditioning.

Most met-con classes are systematically composed, starting with a dynamic warm up that prepares the body for the movements and exercises to come. The warm up is followed by a metabolic conditioning workout that is focused on strength while improving endurance, and burning lots and lots of calories. Most classes end with some stretching and foam rolling to improve flexibility and mobility.


Metabolic conditioning is a means to train different systems in the body to use the fuel delivered to them more efficiently. There are three basic pathways the body uses to get fuel to our muscles. The phosphagen system, which is used for high-intensity work lasting only a few seconds; the glycolytic system, which is used for moderate intensity lasting up to several minutes; and the oxidative system, which is used during low-powered work lasting much beyond a few minutes.

Exercises used during a met-con session are fairly simple and highly modifiable to suit all ages and fitness capacities. The movements used are multi-joint with the purpose of using as much muscle as possible in a short period of time. This creates a larger metabolic response, therefore burning more calories.


Some examples of typical met-con movements are squats, burpees, lunges and kettle bell swings. The movements used are paired carefully to produce a very balanced workout with purpose. Rest and work periods are also programmed into the session strategically to build intensity but also to train effectively. Regular practitioners of met-con can expect to see increases in strength and aerobic endurance, getting the best of both worlds.


Metabolic conditioning is also great for toning the body and promoting fat loss. By training the three aforementioned pathways and using as many muscles as possible, these workouts inherently burn lots of calories. But the fat burning doesn’t stop there.

After a workout the amount of calories used to bring the body back to homeostasis, or its normal state, is referred to as EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC signifies the amount of oxygen used by the body to return itself to a pre-exercise state.

The reason for an increase in metabolism post-workout is that the body is working to replenish its energy stores that were lost during the workout. The extent of EPOC is dependent on the intensity and duration of exercise. It generally takes the body anywhere from 15 minutes up to 48 hours to fully recover depending on the intensity and length of your workout. Metabolic Conditioning has shown to have very high EPOC values, meaning the body will continue to burn calories for a long time after a met-con session.


For endurance athletes, metabolic conditioning can offer many rewards. These athletes typically train primarily in the oxidative pathway, which utilizes slow twitch muscle fibers made for long durations at low intensity.

By training the other two pathways, they can build lean muscle mass and work the fast twitch muscle fibers, which can be used for a short burst up a hill climb or even a quick sprint to the finish line after a long race. Through met-con strength and power training, the endurance athlete will be able to move more efficiently, ultimately making them a better-rounded athlete.


Metabolic conditioning is not just for the already accomplished athlete, however. It can be modified to suit most people as long as they are willing listen and work hard. The movements used will help the average person move more efficiently. They will feel better and look better, too. Met-con is an addicting way of training that will change your life inside and outside of the gym.

Come see what the benefits can do for you. Visit for current met-con offerings or call 970-688-4433.

Dan Ramker is a metabolic conditioning coach at Dogma Athletica. He teaches several group classes in addition to training clients individually. He can be reached via email at

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