Each week for the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a deeper look at the Heirarchy of Athletic Development. This week we’re going to look at the first level above the foundation. Metabolic Conditioning.
Metabolic Conditioning or Metcon, “refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity” metabolic conditioning is conditioning the muscles to better use the fuel delivered to them by improving the efficiency of the different metabolic pathways. Did you get all that? What’s important to remember is that Metabolic Conditioning is training your body to be more efficient in short, medium and long durations of work.
The Phosphagen Pathway is the pathway of the short, I mean really short duration and very high intensity. It typically lasts about 10secs or less.
The Glycolytic Pathway is the pathway of the moderate intensity activities, they tend to last a few minutes and work closely with the Phosphagen Pathway.
The Oxidative Pathway is the chosen pathway for most exercisers. It’s low intensity and can last for an extended period of time.
I once heard these 3 pathways compared to trying to catch a bus. If you were walking to the bus stop and noticed that the bus you needed was pulling away, your walk would immediately turn into a sprint in hopes of catching the bus. As you realize that your chance of catching it are slim and you’ve already started running, you transition your sprint to a run or fast jog trying to continue your run to the next stop before the bus leaves. As you come to realize that even your jog will not get the job done, you slow your jog to a walk that you can sustain for quite some time.
By manipulating the intensity and duration of our workouts, we can improve our body’s efficiency at transporting and utilizing the energy we need to perform a given task. As our body’s become more efficient, our ability to do more work increases. We also improve our body’s ability to recover from varying bouts of physical activity faster.
Metabolic Conditioning is a solid first step in our Fitness Pyramid and allows you the opportunity to increase your body’s capacity and tolerance to the workloads that you want to ask of it on the way to your goals.