If you already love high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but you’re looking to kick it up a notch, you need to try metabolic conditioning (metcon). Metcon is a broad category of exercise similar to HIIT; the difference being that HIIT has you working at 80 percent effort for short bursts of time in specific intervals, while metcon is performed at maximum effort for longer periods.

Metcon workouts can last for 20-plus minutes and work you for a predetermined amount of time, reps or sets with rest periods just long enough to catch your breath or transition into the next exercise. This effective fat-burning and muscle-building workouts act as both a physical challenge and a mental test.

Metcon workouts can be built using only bodyweight exercises, or you can introduce resistance (i.e., medicine ball throws and dumbbell thrusters) to intensify the workout. Building your own metcon workout allows you to control the intensity and time. Plus, you can use the equipment you have handy.

Follow this step-by-step guide to build your own metcon workout.

Step 1
Decide how long you want the workout to be. If you’re trying a metcon workout for the first time, start with a 20-minute circuit and work your way up to 30 or 45-minutes.

Step 2
Pick two to four exercises to cycle through. Try to include one total body, one upper body, one lower body and either one core or one conditioning exercise. Utilize big muscle groups and choose explosive, compound movements that require strength and endurance.

If you’re having trouble identifying exercises to fit into those categories, check out the exercise breakdown below.

  • Upper body: Bench dips, pull-ups
  • Lower body: Goblet squat, side lunge farmers walk, jump squat
  • Core: Side plank, V-ups, Russian twists, barbell sit-ups
  • Conditioning: Power lunge, jump rope, frog jumps, rowing machine
  • Total body: Burpee box jumps, power push-up squat, mountain climbers

Step 3
Choose your rep and set structure. You could do as many rounds as possible in 15-minutes, or you could follow a more structured format and perform as many reps of one exercise as possible in 30-seconds before resting for 30-seconds.

After your rest period, move on to 30-seconds of max reps for another exercise until you’ve completed three or four rounds.

Step 4
Set a workout timer and go. Remember to listen to your body, push yourself and turn up the intensity depending on how you feel while completing the movements.