What is Met Con and Why Does it Get You Incredible Results?

| Movement

Most of us are time poor, this is what I figured out in 2006 when I was a PT. My clients were time poor, lack of time was often the factor holding them back from achieving their goals.

I was programming the traditional strength sessions 3 times per week and steady state cardio SSC on the other days. Obsessed with wanting to achieve results for my clients, I wanted to find a better way, a more time efficient way, a way that created a team environment.

So in 2006 we started running Metabolic Conditioning classes, before we knew it our clients were getting incredible results in less time. The model was they would do 1 -2 strength sessions with a PT and then 1-2 met con classes per week.  People were coming from everywhere, including elite athletes to be part of this relatively unknown style of training called met con.

At this time the fitness landscape wasn’t what it is today, there was no CrossFit in Australia or a new form of Met Con/HIIT franchise popping up on every corner offering their spin on Met Con. Group training at the time was spin classes and Les Mills pump, combat and Zumba.

So What Exactly is Met Con and Why Does it Get Such Good Results?

It is a form of training that incorporates strength and conditioning modalities performed at varying intensities, creating a metabolic demand on the body that optimises the bodies potential to create a superior level of all round fitness and burn a lot of calories during and post workout – perfect for those short on time.

When we look at traditional cardio Steady State Cardio it is only working predominantly one of our three metabolic pathways, the aerobic system.

A metabolic pathway is our three energy systems, which is essentially the process our body goes through to turn stored energy into fuel.

The first two processes are anaerobic which require no oxygen and the last is aerobic, which requires oxygen.

The phosphagen system is the body’s first and fastest pathway to produce energy. From a training perspective this would be for example a 1RM squat or 100m sprint. A real-life scenario would be sprinting and climbing a tree  to escape a vicious dog.

The glycolytic system is our second anaerobic pathway for bouts from around 30sec – several minutes aka the yucky, burning battery acid feeling in your body – Think 60 sec hard out on the airdyne, 20 fast burpees, 10-15 squats etc.

The aerobic system runs on oxygen and fuels the body for longer-term activities like distance cycling and running.

Via various exercises and intensities Metcon taps into each of the energy systems, forcing the body to work aerobically and anaerobically throughout the session. Creating a more efficient and broad fitness improving your strength, endurance, cardio, stamina etc. Along with making you a more effective calorie burning machine during and post workout, producing an effect called Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Creating an elevated metabolism post workout so you burn more calories for longer as your body recovers from the workout.

In summary you will burn fat, build muscle yielding faster results in all round fitness and body composition by making your metabolism work at higher levels (even after the session has finished) than if you just did steady state cardio.

Due to the intensity being high, this form of training shouldn’t nor is there a need for a metcon session to be long in duration. In fact it is physiologically impossible to work metabolically for long periods.

When the intensity is high the duration should be less”

If of course you are training for a specific endurance event like a marathon or triathlon, then yes you will need to train more aerobically and specific to those events.

There is no form of training or program that is “best” for all, everyone has their own goals, time to train and what they enjoy. Most importantly you move your body in some way regularly.

“Movement truly is medicine”

The best training program or form of exercise to do is the one you enjoy, because if you enjoy it you are more likely going to stick with it in the long term and do it consistently.

Why we Alternate HIIT and Met Con and Why Too Much Met Con Can Lead to Diminishing Returns

Metcon and HIIT can be used interchangeably.

Traditionally Metcon incorporates both moderate and high intensity through formats like AMRAPs, EMOMs, where as HIIT usually works off fixed time intervals of for example 60sec on 60sec off.

Science Based Programming

Here at Function Well our methodology behind our HIIT and Metcon is based on science and experience.

We’re the  longest serving gym in Brisbane doing this type of training since 2006.

Time and time again, since Met Con style training has become more mainstream and popularised  we have seen  fitness enthusiasts and athletes quality of life impacted due to pain and overuse injuries from following poorly thought out, inexperienced, high intensity metabolic conditioning programming.

Taking them away from the point of what fitness should be about and that is improving the quality of their lives so they can genuinely function well in every aspect of life!

Following a poorly designed group fitness program, led by cheerleaders and not experienced coaches is a sure way to lead to injury and the opposite end of what fitness should be about.

Your body has to recover and adapt, otherwise you won’t make gains


Here at Function Well we delineate our HIIT (we keep monostructural, think more traditional “cardio”) and Met Con classes. Our Met Con classes combine strength and “cardio”, generally with higher volume of repetitions.

Met Con shouldn’t be done every day, in doing so is a sure way to injury. Your muscles and nervous system need time to recover.

This is why we alternate our Met Con and HIIT classes each day.

In keeping HIIT  monostructural based, think airdynes, bike ergs, rowers, ski-ergs, running, skipping. All low impact, allowing you to train at a high intensity daily, reducing the chances of overuse injuries and inadequate recovery time.

So this festive season grab a relative or friend and have some variety with our 40 Holiday Workouts available via your Function Well App.

Written by Darren Bain