A lot of talk (and research) has been made of metabolic resistance training and whether it is the key to weight loss. After all, isn’t cardiovascular exercise the way to lose weight and resistance training is the way to get stronger? Why would anyone want to lift weights if they want to lose weight? And what exactly is metabolic resistance training as opposed to regular strength training? Let’s find out.
What is metabolic resistance training? Metabolic resistance training (MRT) uses both strength and cardio exercises that are done as a circuit. For example, a squat with an overhead press is a great metabolic exercise because it simultaneously works your upper and lower body which also becomes a cardio workout since your heart rate goes up while doing the exercise. Another example of a good metabolic resistance exercise is the mountain climber as it works your core and your upper body, but also increases your heart rate.
When you do MRT, you want to select 8-10 challenging exercises to include in your circuit. You have the option of doing them for a certain period of time, usually 45-60 seconds, or for a specific number of reps. The most important part about doing MRT is that your rest periods are very minimal and should only last between 15-20 seconds. You basically want just enough time to transition to the next exercise without any waiting around like you would normally do in a regular strength training session.
The benefits of MRT: Now that you know how to do MRT, why should you do it? There are two main effects that MRT has on your body.
- First, you will burn a lot more calories than if you just did cardio or strength training.
- Second, long after your MRT session is over, your body is still working and trying to repair your muscles.
So just because your body has stopped moving, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from it any more. Quite the opposite is true. This is what is commonly known as the after-burn effect. Your body is still using a lot of its energy to recover and repair the muscles you broke down during your MRT workout. The after-burn effect can last for many hours (even days), which means you are still burning calories that night while sitting on the couch and watching television. And burning more calories means losing more weight.
Other factors to consider: MRT will definitely speed up weight loss, especially if you have hit a plateau. However, do not discount the importance of a proper diet. Just because your body is still burning calories for hours afterwards, it is not an excuse to eat foods you otherwise would not. It's still important to follow a healthy diet. And do not replace all of your workouts with MRT. Try doing it three days a week on nonconsecutive days. On the in-between days, you can do something else, whether it’s yoga, steady-state cardio or even a rest day. MRT is very taxing on the body, so make sure you have enough of a recovery time in between sessions.
Finally, remember that when you do MRT, you want to keep the rest periods short and you want the work periods to be all-out effort. The entire workout should take between 30-60 minutes depending on how many exercises you choose and whether you are using timed sets or specific reps. Whichever you decide, you're going to love all the muscle-building, fat-burning and weight loss effects that MRT provides.