Thursday 16 May 2019

Ratcheting up the intensity - metabolic condition (part two)

Following on from my post Ratcheting up the intensity - metabolic conditioning, here is the update on the effects of my metabolic conditioning routine now that it has ended.

Table of contents


Having implemented Tabata protocols in almost all of my workouts whether it be for weight training, cardio or core, there were a few limitations: some exercises had that a long a range of motion, such as glute-ham developer hamstring extensions, that I could never do enough repetitions in the 20 second time frame to hit the muscle good. I ended up having to replace them with Romanian deadlifts, which worked great.

Static hold exercises such as dead-hangs and planks also were not much use when you can hold them for far longer than the required time, and even doing them straight after a more intensive exercise, they were more of a respite than anything else, which was not what I was looking for.

Michael Jordan sweating it out with a smile. Picture from SweatBlock.

As my workouts were confined to a gym where the cardio room is at the other end of the building, I found I couldn't go straight from an exercise to a cardio one such as the rower or run and back in a proper CrossFit manner. By the time I got to the machines, I hit them that hard to make up for the gap in between I nearly expended myself for anything after. Thus that style was dropped.

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When less is more

The effects of going all out on an extended Tabata routine than the norm from the start with twelve cycles instead of eight was also starting to take a bit of a toll as it was so intensive. I also realised I was not going as all out as I could in the fifth to eighth cycles so I could complete the last four. I was also taking longer between Tabata's.

Thus I reduced the number of cycles to the standard eight and was able to concentrate on going all out throughout the whole session. It also helped me cut down on the recovery time between Tabata's allowing me to keep the intensity up.

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Improvement and aftermath

When it came to doing some of my own high-intensity circuit routines, where a more cardio dynamic exercise is done in between the main exercises for example: deadlift followed by kettlebell swings then pull-ups followed by high knees on the spot etc., I found that despite building up a good sweat and panting, I was not as hard hit as this style of routine used to make me feel. I definitely put this down to the Tabata's.

This was the real test as I know how hard that that routine hits me and how it knackers me out, and to not be as hard hit shows that the metabolic conditioning routines worked.

By the end of the four-week block I was doing metabolic conditioning for, I discovered that I actually weighed a kilogram more than I did than at the start. The metabolic demands increased my hunger and I obliged, however, the improvement in my muscles work rate ability was there to see.

My only regret was not hitting twenty repetitions of full ROM strict dips within twenty seconds. Twice I got to nineteen by the time buzzer went. So close yet so far. A challenge for my next metcon block in the future.

High-intensity working out. Picture from Star2.

My next routine block was maximum strength training and the carryover effect from the metcon helped a lot. Despite the change in routine, I kept Saturday's for some Tabata, whether it be an 8-cycle kettlebell session or the standard all body style I had been doing.

After a couple of weeks of this mixed style routine I dropped the Tabata out of it so I could concentrate hard on the maximum strength aspect.

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Future plans

By the time of writing this I have completed my maximum strength routine, which including the two-hybrid weeks at the start lasted six weeks. My current phase is back to a strength endurance routine for four weeks.

Once I have adapted to the change of style and the associated DOMS starts to have less of an impact I intend to reincorporate kettlebell Tabata's back into my routine. This will help keep up my metabolic demands whilst working my cardio.

Also in the weeks after my metcon routine ended, one of my local gym's which I use just got Assault AirBikes and SkiErg's in, which would have been amazing for doing CrossFit style workouts as they are just outside the room I do most of my weighted work. These machines will be put to good use!

An Assault AirBike and SkiErg. Picture from Rogue Fitness.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below or send me some feedback!

Lyle Richardson,
Gym Pal - Your Friend In Fitness


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