What is a MetCon, AKA metabolic conditioning?
Our bodies utilize three energy systems when we exercise. These are the Phosphogen-Creatine, Glycolytic, and Oxidative energy systems. We are all probably most familiar with the Oxidative system and we know it by it's common name, aerobic(s) exercise. The other two systems are anaerobic. Meaning they do not require oxygen to "run."
One of the key components of CrossFit is that we utilize all three energy systems. The Phosphogen-creatine system is used primarily when we do something hard and fast for less than 60 seconds. Think of a max effort lift, a box jump, a sledgehammer hit, or swinging a golf club or baseball bat. These are explosive efforts that we can do at maximal intensity.
The glycolytic system is used primality for maximal efforts lasting less than 2 minutes. Think of the workout Grace, a 10, 100, or 200m sprint, a 250 max effort row, or any interval that lasts about 2 mins.
The oxidative pathway dominates efforts lasting longer than 2 min. This is most of our workouts. We are always training our "aerobic" system (except when we are just lifting for load.)
All three of these systems operate at the start of exercise, but one dominates until the next one takes over.
One of the reasons CrossFit it so effective is that we intentionally train all three of these systems. Increased efficiency in all three systems has profound and significant impacts on our hormonal balance and metabolism. That is why we call our workouts, metabolic conditioning. We are not just exercising or doing aerobics. We are actively training our metabolism to balance hormones such as cortisol, insulin, and many others.
Concentric, Eccentric, Isometric
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