The Complete Guide To Metabolic Workouts

When I first started to workout made the two cardinal mistakes:

1. I was doing a body part a day.

2. I was “trying” to force myself to endure long half hour cardio sessions.

Today I still look back and kinda regret how much time was wasted.

By “time” I mean that I literally spent 2 hours a day, 7 days a week in the gym doing the wrong things to get myself into shape.

Here’s what I mean:

When I started to workout I was really really fat.  Borderline obese is what the experts would call it.

My weight was 30+ pounds over what it should have been and my body was hovering around 27-30% body fat.

I pretty much looked like what I look like today…if I wore a fat suit.

On top of that I had man boobs.  FYI this is not a good look if you are in your 20’s and trying to get a girlfriend.

Fast forward to today:  I’m at about 11% body fat and I don’t even look at my scale anymore because I don’t have to.  I’d say that I’m very pleased with where I am today yet I know I still have room to improve.

This picture was taken after a month of having fun, partying, and hitting the dating scene.

I’d say that this is one of the better pics I have taken and a good testament to why I love Intermittent Fasting.  It allows me to live a normal life filled fun, friends, food and a little boozing.

It’s also a reason why I love Metabolic Workouts.

I learned about these early on in my fitness career and they have helped me shed the 30+ pounds off my body and gave me actual pectorals instead of saggy boobs.

So if I had to do things all over again here is where I would start:

Metabolic Workouts

I first heard about Metabolic Workouts from an article that Alywn Cosgrove did for Men’s Health Magazine.  It was very different from what I was doing at the time so I decided to give it a shot.

1 week and one inch off my waist later I was “hooked”.

For a guy that was at a high body fat percentage like myself (or even a girl for that matter) these workouts were perfect at helping me shed the “baby” fat I’d been carrying around…well since I was a baby.

Why do I like them for the person starting out at a fairly high body fat level?


It’s one of the fastest ways to burn fat off your body inside as well as outside of the gym.

There is no way around it:  If you want to lose weight and trim the fat then you have to put yourself in a caloric deficit.  The best way I know how to do that is by combining a solid diet plan and metabolic workouts.

NOTE: It’s different if you are starting from an already low percentage of body fat because you are already at a low percentage it is more about sculpting that “Hollywood” look than it is about losing weight.

For guys that would be in the 9 to 12%  body fat range and for women it would be in the 12 to 15%  body fat range.

If you are at an already low body fat percentage then I would do these workouts instead of the ones we’ll be talking about today:

===> Guys Click Here

===> Women Click Here

If you are not at that body fat level (yet) then please read on…

Metabolic Workouts usually take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes to complete.  You choose a set of exercises (usually full body) and each exercise is done with minimal rest in between.

Why Metabolic Workouts Are Awesome

I don’t know about you but the fastest way to my goals is always the path I choose.

If your main goals are weight loss and fat burning then you must find a way to decrease your calorie intake while increasing the amount of calories burned every day.

It’s one reason I recommend to start trying out Intermittent Fasting.  It’s one of the easiest ways to cut calories from your diet without having the feeling of “dieting”.

Burning a massive amount of calories in and out of the gym is the reason why Metabolic workouts are so damn well at trimming the belly flab.

Here’s also an interesting fact:  They also work well at making your long durations of cardio worth your time.

Here’s what I mean:

So intense exercise burns calories, it burns fat…and releases free fatty acids into the blood-stream.

Metabolic workouts burn some of these free fatty acids, in fact a good portion of them…but any free fatty acids that aren’t burned during training get redeposited back into the fat cells.

By adding in steady cardio after this intense metabolic resistance training is a great way to “snipe” these released free fatty acids…and burn them for fuel.

Let me tell you that it’s a lot better to use your fat as fuel than it is food.

Metabolic Workouts Help Increase Metabolic Rate

Doing a metabolic circuit will also help you increase your metabolic rate for up to 24 to 36 hours past exercising.  Alwyn Cosgrove does a great job of explaining this but here’s a study that should interest you:

Here’s an interesting study:

Osterberg, K. L. & Melby, C. L., 2000. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 10 (1), 71-81.

They took 7 females at an average age of 27 and an average weight of 141.5 pounds with similar body fat percentages. Meals stayed the same. They did 3 metabolic circuits a week and each circuit consisted of 10 exercises with the last two being done to failure.

Here’s the summary:

They found that their oxygen debt (EPOC) remained high during the 3 hours post exercise. By the 3rd hour their EPOC was 13 percent higher and by the 16th hour their resting metabolic rate was 4.2% higher than their pre workout metabolic rate.

If you put yourself on a caloric deficit and adopt Metabolic workouts as your main modus operandi when working out you will be pretty much guaranteed success in hitting your fat loss and weight loss goals.

4 Types Of Metabolic Workouts

Okay now we are getting into the bread and butter of this blog post.  There are quite literally hundreds of ways you can do metabolic workouts and apply them in the gym.  I am not shy to say that I have probably tried most of them with myself and my clients.

These workouts are so intense that they can get addicting after awhile.  Be careful though.  I wouldn’t do these more than 3-4 times a week.  These types of circuits are very taxing on your nervous system and they can lead to injuries and overtraining if you are not careful.

Timed circuits – Mainly used in group settings ie. MMA and boot camp workouts

We use these mainly in our boot camps for the sole purpose of being able to train a group with a high intensity.  These are usually done in a work to rest ratio with minimal rest in between.  You can do anywhere from 2 to 10 exercises with this type of circuit.

What I mean by work to rest ratio:

So you could have a 50 second timed work period with a 10 second rest.

Or you can have a 30 second time period with a 30 second rest.

You pretty much play around with the timing and keep these circuits intense.  The keys here are to keep the weights challenging and try to finish out each and every circuit as strong as possible.

An example of a timed circuit would be a Tabata.  Ben does one exercise but you could fit two in there if you wanted:

Strength circuits

These are done at least once a week and have you lifting heavy using the principle muscle building exercises like Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press and Chin ups.  There is a little more rest in between each exercise and we don’t do these too often because they re taxing on the CNS (Central nervous system).

These help at building strength and muscle and require anywhere from 2 to 3 exercises per circuit.

My favourite strength circuits are lactic acid workouts and heavy strength sets.

Here’s a video of John Romaniello doing one of my favourite Lactic Acid Exercises…the overhead press:


These are the ultimate fat burner in my opinion.  Complexes have you work with a specific implement (kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell) and complete a 3 to 5 exercise circuit without letting go of the implement ever.  One of the hardest Metabolic Workouts you can do which makes it one of the most effective.

Craig Ballantyne shows us how a barbell complex is done.

Interval Training aka. Fat Loss Cardio

Interval training has become the go-to choice of fat loss cardio for most of those reading this blog. Now I’m on a serious mission to get into shape I’m doing these 3 times a week. If I am 3 weeks away from vacation I’d up it to 5 days a week along with my workouts.

You do these on a cardio machine (treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper, stationary bike etc..) and use a work to rest ratio like we did with the timed circuits.

Beginners would use a 3:1 ratio, intermediate exercisers would do a 2:1 ratio and advanced exercisers would do a 1:1.

Interval training should not be done more than 15 to 20 minutes at most.

Again Craig Ballantyne shows us how it’s done when it comes to Interval training

And there you have it. I hope you got a lot out of this blog post.  Now you know what Metabolic Workouts are. Why they are effective and you also have 4 different ways to do them.

What did you think of this blog post? Don’t forget to leave a comment below.

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