This article was originally written in 2014, and in light of the upcoming seminar on Thursday November 16th (details below), I thought it would be a good time to update it and share it with everyone. Enjoy!…

When I ask many of my athletes what their goals are, they usually include decreasing injury potential, increasing strength, gaining some muscle and losing some fat.

Some athletes do have more specific goals such as a faster batting speed or club speed, higher pitching (baseball/softball) or shooting (lax or hockey) velocity, a quicker 40 yard dash or a more explosive first step.

But for most, it is usually about gaining strength and muscle, and losing fat.

So then the question becomes, how can one most effectively gain strength, increase muscle mass and decrease fat while also staying healthy. I emphasize “while also staying healthy” as there are some programs (too many, and some very popular ones!)  out there that will undoubtedly help many build strength, size and burn fat.

Unfortunately though, these programs often leave their athletes feeling like Madd Dog in the ring with Tommy…confident at first but quickly jacked up…you have to check this scene out!

But there is a better way. It is called Metabolic Resistance Training and here is the what and how.

What Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) is Not

MRT, when programmed correctly, is an extremely effective method to simultaneously acheive strength and muscle mass, while shedding fat and staying healthy.

The difference between MRT and other circuit style training or “bootcamps” is in the exercise selection, format, chosen resistance and rest periods.

Most circuit or “bootcamp” style programs insist on picking the latest/coolest/most advanced exercises such as the Olympic lifts (cleans, snatches, jerks, etc.), loaded jumps, unstable surface training, etc.

And it is not that these exercises are inherently bad exercises (except for some of the unstable surface training…a squat on a stability ball is just a bad, bad idea!), but it is that many programs teach them, or try to teach them, in a “go-go-go” group atmosphere. This hardly ever allows for individuals to learn proper technique, and therefore, they never fully master the movements utilized.

 

 

Then to make things worse, these programs rarely manage weight selection properly, allowing athletes to either use a load that far too heavy to maintain form, or to use a load that is so light that they are able to crank out reps without having to think about technique (this is usually the case).

Lastly, because the goal of the coach/program is too often to simply “get tired” instead of “to get better” work periods are too long and rest periods are not sufficient. This results in excessive fatigue, which further exacerbates this issue of poor form. Not only this, but it is then that we are not able to complete as much truly high intensity work, the kind that is going to result in optimal muscle gain and fat loss. 

Advanced exercises that have not been mastered, in combination with poorly selected resistance and excessive fatigue is a recipe for disaster. 

MRT: A Better Approach…When Programmed Correctly

Metabolic Resistance Training (good MRT) utilizes exercises that are familiar and have been mastered. MRT, when programmed effectively, uses a resistance that allows you to gain strength as well as size without losing form. Lastly, MRT uses rest periods that are long enough to allow the quality of movement to stay high, but short enough to create a metabolic disturbance…this takes some quality programming!

First and foremost, the exercises utilized should be tailored to the individual and what they are familiar and efficient. If an athlete is coached well and the movement is modified accordingly, movements (and there variations) such as the squat, deadlift, lunge, push up, inverted row and cable rows are quickly mastered and can be used.

 

The resistance used should be equivalent to an athlete’s 6-12 rep max (the most weight and athlete can use to complete an exercise with perfect form for 6-12 reps) and exercises are then programmed to complete 4-10 reps, leaving “1-2 reps left in the tank.”

The weight selected also needs to take into consideration an athlete’s main goals (strength gain vs muscle gain). For example, if an athlete is going for strength more than size, you would program exercises for 4-6 reps utilizing a resistance that is comparable to the athlete’s 6-8 rep max. If size is the goal than reps should fall between the 8-10 rep range using a resistance comparable to the athlete’s 10-12 rep max. 

Lastly, 2 to 4 exercises should be formatted in a non-competing fashion (upper/lower, push/pull) and separated with a rest period that is conducive to the athlete’s goal.

For an athlete looking to maximize strength first, programming a deadlift followed by a push up, a lunge and an inverted row with 45s of rest between exercises, and 60s of rest between sets, would allow the athlete to regenerate enough between exercises to continue to push good weight. This format would also promote the metabolic disturbance required for muscle gain and fat loss.

Putting It All Together

Below is an example MRT session with two different programming parameters: one that is geared towards strength and one geared towards size…but remember both with still beget both strength and size, as well as fat loss (when nutrition is on par of course!).

For Strength

Complete the following exercises in order performing 5 reps each and using a resistance that would allow you to get 6-7 perfect reps before losing form. Rest 40s between exercises and 60s between sets. Perform 3 to 5 sets.

1a) Deadlift x5

1b) Push Up (use a band/chains for added resistance and/or elevated feet) x5

1c) Reverse Lunge x5/side

1d) TRX Row (use a weight vest or chains for added resistance and/or elevate feet) x5

 

For Size (muscle gain)

Perform the same sequence of exercises above performing 8 reps per exercise with a resistance that would allow for 9-10 perfect reps. Rest 15-30s between exercises and 45s between sets.

This routines can be a session by themselves, or they can follow the strength/power portion of your program.

Keep Progressing

As with any other program, the goal should be to progressively overload the system. As the program gets easier try increasing the weight used, decreasing the rest periods and switching out exercises for other exercises that you become proficient in.

When the exercises are familiar, the resistance used is appropriate to your goals, and when the rest periods are long enough for an athlete to maintain perfect form but short enough to still create a metabolic disturbance, MRT can be utilized to simultaneously gain strength and size, lose fat and stay healthy.

 

 

No more do you need to (or should you) meaninglessly follow along with a program that is there just to “get you tired.” Sit down and consider your goals and training history and utilize MRT to help you quickly achieve your goals, and keep you from feeling like you had just been in the cage with Tommy…if you didn’t check out the video above now is the time to do so!

For WAY MORE on the topic of Metabolic Resistance Training, and many different strategies on how to implement MRT, as well as utilize in sessions that can last only 10-30 minutes, make sure to sign up for the upcoming seminar by emailing Kyle at kyle@theathleticway.com…here is the flyer with details!