Metabolic Conditioning

The term Metabolic Conditioning has been borrowed from the Crossfit literature. I don't particularly like it. It kind of sounds scientific, but doesn't actually seem to mean something specific. Unfortunately I can't think of something else to use in it's place. I have taken the concept of the template from the article A Theoretical Template For Crossfit Programming, and modified it for my own uses. As a result I still use the letter M to signify this as a focus for the day's training.

Crossfit has defined Metabolic Conditioning as developing the oxidative pathway, glycolytic pathway and phosphagen pathway through the use of single modal exercises such as running, cycling, swimming or rowing. Within my own programming, I use it signify a place to include at least swimming, cycling or running. These will be the main focus. Exactly how these modes of exercise are utilised will depend on many factors including:
  • Upcoming races
  • Previous and upcoming training
  • Current strength/weakness
  • Whether Weightlifting/Gymnastics/Parkour are listed as a focus for the day also

To get a little more detailed, I will apply the following loose guidelines:

  1. The mode of exercise will usually be different from the last Specific or last M session
  2. The session will usually be different to an upcoming race pace
  3. Current weaknesses will have preference over strengths

Some examples may demonstrate what I mean:

If the last Specific or M session was running, then I will choose swimming or cycling at the next one.

Race paces will usually be covered in actual racing or within Specific training sessions. Instead I will cycle roughly through the addressing the abilities of:

  • speed
  • anaerobic capacity/speed endurance
  • aerobic capacity/maximal oxygen uptake paces
  • anaerobic conditioning/lactate-ventilatory thresholds
  • aerobic conditioning

If I am lacking substantially in a certain area, whether it be in a certain mode (cycling for example) or with a certain metabolic ability (anaerobic capacity) then preference will be given to performing work to develop that attribute. If a previous and recent session has dealt with that, then I will move onto the aspect on my ever changing list.

An example week of describing metabolic conditioning could be as follows:

  1. M: Swim: anaerobic capacity-aerobic conditioning with 3x[4x25m Free sprint, 4x15m Fly @ maximal speed] (5min rest between sets) + 4x500m @70-80% with 15sec rest.

  2. Sp: Run: Upcoming race 10km: 5-10km paced intervals of 1200-2000m.

  3. MG: Cycling: anaerobic conditioning: 2x20min @ 85%/threshold, with 5min rec followed by a gymnastics set.

  4. W: Maximal strength

  5. Pk: Skills, power

  6. WMG: 5 sets of 15 Snatches - Run 400m - 15 Pull Ups, covers sustained speed in 400m efforts, but overall set will keep the cardiovascular system working at or above VO2max.

  7. WM: Strength work on presses followed by Cycling @ aerobic conditioning pace for 90-100min over hilly terrain.


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