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Jason Needler 03-09-2007 01:09 PM

I've seen the word "metcon" thrown around a lot here, please tell me what it means.

Chris Lampe 03-09-2007 01:12 PM

metabolic conditioning (i.e., cardiovascular conditioning or "aerobic" conditioning).

It took me a bit to figure that one out.

(Message edited by corwin1968 on March 09, 2007)

Arden Cogar Jr. 03-09-2007 01:41 PM

Took me a while to understand it as well.

Eugene Allen described it, and I'm paraphrasing because I can in now way write as well as he does, as he "is Metcom" whereas I "am Maximum Effort." He does ironman, rows a gazillion meters a year, and could workout full steam for hours on end. Whereas I can lift really heavy things over and over then come back and do it again shortly therafter. He could use a little of me and I could use a little of him. He's lifting some stones and my "rotunda" is becoming less rotund by running, rowing, and amping up the cardio.

All the best,

Eugene R. Allen 03-14-2007 01:45 AM

Thanks for the writing props there Arden. The meta part of the word is for metabolic and that has to do with your energy systems. You have certainly heard and used the word metabolism and have a sense for slow and fast metabolisms. Some people walk by a bakery and gain two pounds and others shove everything they can get their hands on down their pie hole and never gain a pound. Metabolic - energy systems.

The con is easy, that's just conditioning and the contraction metcon is shorthand for the CrossFit methodology for improvement of the cardio vascular and cardio respiratory systems through a variety of functional exercises executed at high intensity. The program does wonders for much more than just your CV/CR systems but were just discussing metcon here.

Short energy systems course:

Creatine Phosphate or Phosphogen up to about 10 seconds of pedal to the metal, all out exertion. One rep max sort of thing.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Aerobic system which (assuming you are not working out as you read this) you are using right now. You can be in this energy system for the rest of your life. In an exercise sense it is at an effort level you can sustain for about 90 minutes before you exhaust your glycogen supply and have to refuel. How hard you can go is influenced directly by training and there are many endurance athletes who can do 5:30 miles and still be aerobic. I hate those people. The term LSD (Long Slow Distance) is the typical protocol for aerobic work where you are working at a low output for a long period of time.

The CrossFit arena is the Glycolytic energy system where you hammer your way to and through your lactate threshold at an effort level sustainable for only 2 minutes or so. The CF protocol has you change the demand on the failing musculature after some number of reps or time by moving to a new exercise while the CV/CR system is still being taxed. This allows for metabolic conditioning at a far more intense level than you could ever hope to achieve through a single mode of exercise because of the predictable onset of muscle failure at high levels of exertion.

If you go to the FAQ's and look up the notes from the CrossFit seminars the subject of energy systems is covered in far greater detail and ought to answer your question better than I did here.

Barry Cooper 03-15-2007 07:02 PM

What Eugene said, plus a somewhat shorter (and less informational) answer: The metcons are the ones where you want to puke, and lay around for a while on the floor afterwards.

My current program is: something I feel like doing on Sunday. Monday: O-lift. Tues-Wed. something that makes me want to puke, i.e. metcons. Thur: Powerlifting. Not sure it's the best program, but seems to work OK.

Dan Fanelli 03-15-2007 08:53 PM

Anyone know of a web site that has an overview of metcon training.

What would a workout look like? Is it basically a circuit of Olympic lifts with heavy weights, and around 8-12 reps?

Ryan Sears 03-15-2007 09:02 PM

I thought metcon was more like lighter weighted exercises done at a faster pace.

Kevin Burns 03-15-2007 09:38 PM

Metcon doesn't have a strict definition. Its about intensity. Intensity is about power output over time. You might consider checking out the CFit Journal #31: Fooling Around With Fran. Fran has got to be one of the most painful metcon workouts because of the power output. It requires many of the things I mention below, not to mention stability and balance.

If i had to define metcon i would do it like this

1. High Heart Rate
2. Simultaneous Use of Many Muscles
3. Continuous Movement
4. Short to Medium Time (5-30 min)

and the best way to tell if your doing a metcon workout.....


David Aguasca 03-16-2007 08:30 AM

i think you forgot something off that list, kevin.

5. Pain.
6. Increased breathing rate.
7. More pain.

Kevin Burns 03-16-2007 10:00 AM

8. Fear and Loathing

Joe Marsh 03-16-2007 11:25 AM

Anyone know of a web site that has an overview of metcon training.

What would a workout look like?

Dan, you're on that site now. For an example workout, check out the WOD.

Skylar Cook 03-16-2007 05:22 PM

Props to Joe.

Eugene R. Allen 03-16-2007 07:59 PM

Dan we did Ninja's Mile today which is very much a metcon workout...try this:

Run 400
21 Swings with a 52 lb KB
21 SDLHP with 75 lbs
21 Push Presses with a pair of 36 lbs KBs
Run 400
15 Snatches with each hand with a 44 lb KB
15 Ring dips
15 Pullups
Run 400
9 DL and box jump (190)
9 Rage ball with burpee
9 Cleand and push prerss with 12 44lb KBs.
Run 400

That took me 17:45 today. Give it a shot and you will learn very quickly what metcon feels like.

For more similar workouts go to my site at and look down the right side for CrossFit PC Workouts. You'll find all kind of metcon stuff there.

Kevin Burns 03-16-2007 08:36 PM

Ok that looks just cruel and unusual.

which means i'm going to have to try it.

Eugene. Are you doing this on an outside track or using a treadmill ? I need to find a track with a pullup bar nearby.

Darrell E. White 03-17-2007 06:32 AM


After all the fun I had with "Gene's Cloak of Despair", introducing visitors to my gym to CF, this is one that begs to be done. Perhaps tomorrow after today's CFT. Thanks, also, for the link to your blog. What a great resource you are!

I kinda chuckled today when I noticed that I am now a "Senior Member" with 250 or so posts. More than kinda funny to be in the same category as you with 1386 and Larry with 2500!

This work-out, like the Filthy 50, hits all three of the energy pathways, even for the elite CF athletes like Eugene. anaerobic from the start if you push the 400, phospholytic from the first triplet, and then aerobic due to its length. A nice example on paper, and a very nice example of how you should feel if you do it.

Eugene R. Allen 03-17-2007 10:32 AM

Kevin - first of all ignore the horrible job I did with my post above is certainly not cleand and push prerss with 12 44 lb KB's. I suggest you only use 2. Sorry for being so sloppy. From my driveway to my neighbor Jennifer's driveway down the street is right at 200 meters. It is .6 miles around the neighborhood on the sidewalk, 50 yards to the mailboxes, 25 yards to the fire hydrant...the trick is to just measure out your neighborhood so you can select whatever combination of distances you need to get the run length you want. I don't usually use my treadmill since there are always people working out with me and it's so much nicer to run outside. I have the good fortune of living in a gated community with very little vehicle traffic so we can do all our tire drags, yoke walks, tire flips and the like right out the street and the neighbors just drive around.

Have you guys seen Jacob's Ladder and Me Love You Long Time? Those are both epic length workouts and have their own particular charm.

John Wopat 03-20-2007 08:10 AM

Thanks guys. And I thought "metcon" meant an inmate in a metropolitian correctional facility!

Shane Kim 12-07-2007 07:30 PM

Re: What is metcon?

Originally Posted by Eugene R. Allen (Post 35491)
the trick is to just measure out your neighborhood so you can select whatever combination of distances you need to get the run length you want.

A tool to make this easier:

Basically like a map-quest map where you can draw out your route and it will tell you exactly how long it is.

Kirez Reynolds 12-08-2007 10:42 PM

Re: What is metcon?
I'm new to CF and I would love to see CFers' responses to this article ---- this article changed my approach to exercise; it's largely responsible for me opening my mind, realizing I've accepted false ideas, and I needed to explore more broadly to find an optimal exercise program ---- which lead to me finding CrossFit.

My summary: while the specific findings of this study are fascinating and intriguing enough, the real thrust is the implication of how we have misunderstood and mischaracterized "aerobic" and "anaerobic".

(Synopsis: the studies show that you can achieve greater gains in aerobic ability by sprinting --- by doing short term, intense training. More accurately it's the glycolytic pathway that CF focuses on, but historically, we maintained this false distinction of "aerobic" or "anaerobic".)

One of my understandings is that metcon is happening largely (mostly, primarily, choose your adverb...) through MUSCLE. The article linked above touches on that.

Jesse Emers 12-09-2007 06:34 AM

Re: What is metcon?
Ive been realizing everyday that Ive accepted false ideas

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