What is the difference between Metcon (Metabolic Conditioning) small group classes and boot camp?
I currently run Alpha metcon small group classes at Life Time Athletic in Ajax. I often get asked this question.
According to Wikipedia,
Military forces have emphasized fitness since ancient times. In the United States, military-style exercise and “correctional boot camps” have been used to rehabilitate civilian and military criminals since the nineteenth century. The term “boot” refers to US Navy and Marine recruits in the Spanish–American War (1898) who wore leggings called boots. These recruits were trained in “boot” camps.
Fitness boot camps developed independently around the world. They started in Australia, the USA and the UK in the 1990s. Since then, the fitness boot camp class phenomenon has been growing in the fitness industry.
Boot camp training involves stretching, running, and interval training. The basic idea is based on military basic training. However, it can involve other routines.
Metcon (Metabolic Conditioning)
So how is metcon different from boot camp? Well, boot camp just mixes together the interval training in a group to provide encouragement. There is no specific science to how the workout routines are put together. Metcon is a type of group training that is based on VIIT or Variable Intensity Interval Training. This is a variation on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Alpha Metcon involves 3 classes per week, each with a different focus.
This program is very specifically designed to work three energy systems. These systems are; endurance, power and speed. The scientific combination of metabolic conditioning provides an understanding of how your specific energy systems work-thus three days of very effective workouts.
Alpha Metcon is different in three fundamental ways. The class size is smaller (3-8 people). The smaller class size means more personalized attention and instruction. Finally, metcon has a scientifically based training approach.
There are reasons that metcon uses a specific selection of exercises in strategic combinations of varying intensity levels. The program is designed for the participants to burn more calories both during and after your workout. What you may not know is that you burn calories up to 36 hours after your work out. This program maximizes this burn.
Maximizing the Burn
What is important is not the number of calories that you burn during a workout. The important issue is how the workout changes your metabolic rate to continue maximizing the burn. By participating in metcon, your body will burn fat more efficiently. You will increase your lean body mass. You will also condition your body to perform and metabolize better. Hence the name metabolic conditioning.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fuels every cell in your body. Your body uses three energy systems: the phosphagen, glycolytic and oxidative systems.
The first system is fast-acting and provides the body with ATP for quick, high-intensity exercises, such as sprints. The focus is on speed. You might have noticed that once you sprint, you get tired fast and you need to rest to continue functioning.
After 10 seconds, your glycolytic system takes over. As a result, it provides the ATP for longer runs up to a few minutes. Here the focus is on power. However, you will still need to recover.
Furthermore, if you are running for distance, you use your oxidative system which provides ATP for longer activities. Here the focus is on endurance. You will depend on all three energy systems to function well. They all work together and you never rely only on one system. As a result, when you allow your body to operate more efficiently by using the three energy systems well, you will appear younger, and live longer and better.
The Difference Between Metcon and Bootcamp
If you become better at producing ATP, and better avoid metabolic byproducts (which your muscles don’t want), and recovering, your body will work more efficiently. This is the fundamental difference between boot camp and metcon. In conclusion, boot camp is about pushing your body to be tired, metcon is about training your body to be more metabolically efficient. Think of it as similar to the difference between the gas-powered vehicles of today and 30 years ago. We have developed more fuel efficient vehicles with more power than the vehicles of 30 years ago. Consequently, having the old gas guzzler doesn’t mean that because you are burning more gas that you can go faster. It just burns more gas.
I personally love the idea of metcon. It is almost like a cross between personal training and boot camp. You get more individual attention with a focus on the science of what you are doing. It is based in the research of about physiology and exercise. As a result, I think that if you are serious about fitness you should add in metcon to your personal training regime.