The Best Workout For Burning Fat:
Metabolic Conditioning

It’s intense. It’s fast. It’s incredibly effective.

Metabolic Conditioning, or MetCon, is so effective that many exercise researchers are now describing it as the best workout for burning fat. From Pritikin’s Fitness Director, Jamie Costello, MSC, learn what Metabolic Conditioning is, and how to do it safely.

Metabolic Conditioning is the Best Workout For Burning Fat

Metabolic conditioning workouts at Pritikin incorporate super circuit-training for weights and intervals for cardio, as well as classes in spinning, boot camp, and Zumba. Learn what's best for burning fat.

Fat Loss Vs Weight Loss

In his 25 years of personal training, Jamie Costello, Fitness Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, has always begun by asking people:

“What’s your goal?”

Invariably, he hears: “I want to lose weight.”

Jamie Costello & Metabolic Conditioning

Jamie Costello, Fitness Director at Pritikin, and his team of exercise physiologists have developed a fitness program that balances metabolic conditioning with recovery activities, such as swimming and yoga.

“How much weight?” Jamie asks.

“Oh, about 10 pounds,” people commonly say.

Now, what isn’t common is Jamie’s reply:

“Well, we could cut off your head. That’s about 9 pounds right there.”

People laugh, and that’s when Jamie starts to educate folks. “It’s not really weight that you want to lose, right?” he says. “We could accomplish that by losing your brains, bones, and organs. What you probably want is to lose fat, right?”

Of course, that’s what we want. Removing excess pudge from our bodies, we all know, is the best way to achieve a lean and healthy body.

And the best way to burn fat, Jamie Costello and his team of exercise physiologists at the Pritikin health resort teach, is Metabolic Conditioning.

Metabolic Conditioning: Best Workout For Burning Fat

What is Metabolic Conditioning?

Let’s back up a bit and talk about fat loss in general.

All forms of exercise require the use of our muscles to produce energy. We produce energy by burning calories. And when we’re producing energy and burning calories, we’re burning fat.

Strength training often utilizes one type of energy system, called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. It fulfills our immediate need for fuel. Moderate cardiovascular workouts use another energy system called glycolysis. It fuels the body over longer, slower exercise bouts.

“Metabolic conditioning uses both these energy systems,” explains exercise physiologist Jamie Costello. “The result is a workout that puts your metabolism into overdrive and rapidly burns fat – a lot of fat.”

What Does a Metabolic Conditioning Workout Look Like?

There are many types of Metabolic Conditioning workouts, but the common denominator is high-intensity exercise that involves total body exercises interspersed with short rest periods.

A 30-minute Metabolic Conditioning session might include circuits, lifting heavier weights, working a little harder during cardio sessions, interval training, doing combination exercises, or even putting short bursts of cardio into a regular strength training program.

“At the Pritikin Longevity Center, we incorporate super circuit-training for weights and intervals for cardio, as well as classes in spinning, boot camp, and Zumba,” says Jamie.

The Benefits of Metabolic Conditioning

There are five key benefits of Metabolic Conditioning.

Best Workout For Fat Burning | Metabolic Conditioning

From a fat-burning standpoint, “Metabolic Conditioning can’t be beat,” Jamie states. That’s because Metabolic Conditioning not only optimizes fat burning during the exercise session, it also keeps our metabolisms elevated long after the workout has ended, science has found.

This “after burn” effect is known as EPOC, or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. Put simply, after we’ve exercised in high-intensity Metabolic Conditioning mode, our body uses up much more energy (calories) than steady-state, traditional exercise to return the body to its resting state. There’s a lot of calorie burning involved in post MetCon processes like replenishing depleted energy stories, repairing cellular damage, and enhancing the growth of new tissue.

That’s a very good thing, because the more calories we expend, the more fat we burn.

Best Calorie Burn | Metabolic Conditioning

“While studies have come to different conclusions regarding the total calorie burn of Metabolic Conditioning, there’s no question it burns a ton of calories,” points out Jamie.

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“The calorie burn during a 30-minute Metabolic Conditioning workout can easily add up to 500 calories. It also increases your metabolic rate between 10 to 25 percent for up to 48 hours after your workout.” In fact, research has shown a rise in metabolic rate for up to 72 hours.

“This equates to hundreds of extra calories, which over the course of a few workouts can become significant,” sums up Jamie.

Improved Hormonal Profile | Metabolic Conditioning

Research has found that hormones that promote lipolysis (the technical term for fat loss) increase as a result of high intensity training.

Improved Cardiovascular Capacity | Metabolic Conditioning

While Metabolic Conditioning is not classically “aerobic” in the way that, say, a 45-minute jog is, some studies have shown that anaerobic exercise such as high intensity interval training, a form of Metabolic Conditioning, can increase V02max more than a traditional aerobic program.

V02max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can consume during exercise. It is commonly measured on a treadmill stress test. The higher your V02max, the fitter you are.

It’s Fast | Metabolic Conditioning

A common complaint among people about their exercise routines is that “they’re so time-consuming.” Metabolic Conditioning is not. As described earlier, 30 minutes is all you need for achieving benefits that often require 1 to 2 hours of traditional exercise. That’s right, with Metabolic Conditioning you’re cutting exercise time in half, and probably even more.

The Downsides | Metabolic Conditioning

Two important questions everyone should ask before beginning a Metabolic Conditioning program are:

  • What’s my risk of injury?
  • Is my heart going to be safe?

High-intensity exercise like Metabolic Conditioning brings on fatigue. Fatigue often leads to deterioration in technique, which can greatly increase the chance of injury, “but this doesn’t have to be the case,” points out Jamie Costello.

Pain-Free Exercise and Burning Fat

Frank Musumeci, Biomechanical and Musculoskeletal Director at Pritikin, works with guests like Rajesh Jain, pictured above, who have bad knees or other orthopedic issues. The goal: creating a customized exercise plan that is pain-free.

“At Pritikin, the focus is – and has always been – perfect form. In class and in personal training sessions, our exercise physiologists are always watching – and correcting – our guests’ movements so that the chance of injury is decreased substantially.”

Equally important, exercise sessions at Pritikin are focused on what’s best for the heart. Upon arrival, each guest undergoes a comprehensive medical and fitness evaluation, including treadmill stress testing. It helps determine what’s not only most effective for cardiovascular conditioning, but also what’s safest.

And then, while exercising, each guest’s heart rate is monitored regularly by Pritikin’s exercise instructors. “We want to make sure you’re getting the most out of every exercise session, but we also want to make sure that your heart – and your arteries nourishing your heart – are doing well,” states Seth Marquit, MD, Medical Director at Pritikin.

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Don't let pain stop you from burning fat and getting lean. Exercise Pain-Free

Bad Knees?

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“At Pritikin, there’s nothing more important. That’s why we have eight physicians on staff. That’s why we have eight exercise physiologists with specialized training in heart health. And that’s why each guest has a training heart zone.”

At Pritikin, the exercise team also balances the high-energy electives with recovery activities, such as swimming, mediation/yoga, and massage. “It’s a great way to end each day,” observes Fitness Director Jamie Costello.

“Bottom Line: If you’re beginning an exercise program, whether it’s Metabolic Conditioning or simply getting off the couch and walking a half-mile, there’s no safer place to begin than at Pritikin.”

Summing Up:
Best Workout For Burning Fat | Metabolic Conditioning

Research has repeatedly found that high intensity training like Metabolic Conditioning is far more effective than lower intensity forms of exercise for burning fat and improving cardiovascular fitness.

But make sure you research the particular Metabolic Conditioning program you’re thinking about starting. “You want to be challenged, you want the best workout for burning fat, but you also want the safest workout,” sums up Jamie Costello.

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