Metabolic Training: 101

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Trying to unearth a six-pack from under that beer belly? Tired of your regular routine and want a change at the gym? Reebok’s Global Master Trainer and Metabolic Training Expert David Jack shows us how to get it done (and lightning fast).
As told to Meher Bajwa

Metabolic Training: What is it?
Metabolic training is a form of exercise that combines strength training and cardiovascular training in a fast, effective, efficient workout that works your total body, burns fat, creates lean muscle and helps improve cardio respiratory fitness. Usually it’s strength exercises and cardiovascular exercises. They should be organised in a way that they’re done safely and effectively, keeping the heart rate elevated while working different muscle groups.

Up The Ante.
Metabolic Training, when done right and mixed into the fitness architecture of your overall programme, is very good because it’s very effective and it’s very time efficient. Say you have 20 minutes and you just go for a basic walk. If you don’t have a lot of time to get fit, the physical benefit that you could get from this will probably be pretty low. Use the same 20 minutes and you do a circuit of power hiking up a hill, coming back down to the bottom, doing 10 push-ups, 10 jumping jacks, 10 body weight squats and then power hike the hill and repeat the process. Do as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes with good form. You can’t start the push-ups until you can get all 10 finished well in one go. Same for the squats, jumping jacks and body weight squats. You have to rest when you need to rest. But you need to go as fast as you can riding that line. You’ll see the results.

Eat Right To Exercise Right.
No matter what way you train physically, if you don’t match it with good food, you’re paddling a boat upstream. Not only from a physical perspective but also from a vitality and longevity standpoint. The principles are pretty simple: Eat more one-ingredient foods. That’s foods that have one ingredient — fish, chicken, broccoli, eggs, carrots, kale or spinach. Drink less liquid calories. Liquid calories come from canned juices, sodas, sugary drinks, fancy coffees with caramel and sugar—all liquids where you’re adding artificial ingredients are no good. Drink more water—it is a critical asset in billions of chemical functions in our body every second, a critical asset in cellular health, vitality and human performance.

Skip The Supplements.
I’m not a big fan of artificial nutritional products. I don’t know how they’re made or where the raw materials come from and I don’t really know what they’re supposed to do on my body because they’re not natural. I’m a fan of really good quality wholefood nutrition. So I’ll take a capsule of dehydrated, condensed phytonutrient-rich vegetables and fruits, essential fish oils and essential fats if I feel like I don’t get enough in my day. Most of us are deficient in essential fats and our fat balance is off. Fat balance is critical. It’s ironic that it’s critical for lean tissue creation and maintenance.

Run Wherever You Want.
If you love to run indoors, then run indoors. Mix it up. That’s going to keep the body and the brain guessing and it’s going to bring you better fitness. Keep it flat sometimes and on an incline sometimes. Do intervals, do long runs, and every now and then rotate it out so you give your joints a rest. If you love running outdoors, go outdoors. Mix up your trails. Do intervals—run two telephone poles, walk a telephone pole, run three telephone poles, walk two telephone poles. Run trails, run hills, run in the park barefoot on grass. All of those ways are excellent. If you run inside, I would encourage you to get outside once a week because the ground is different. Get on a trail—it’s softer on your knees, hips and ankles.

You Don’t Need A Personal Trainer.
But you still need to do your research and there’s plenty of information out there for free. You should empower and educate yourself to start making better decisions on how to manage your fitness. It’s important to have physical IQ. A trainer should take you to a place where you start to learn fitness for yourself and you own that knowledge. When choosing a trainer you have to be careful: They have to care about your goals. They have to listen to you. They need to have experience. Their training needs to be safe. They should assess you to make sure they know where you’ve come from, they should know what your injuries and goals look like.

Maintain The Shape You Want Once You Have It.
You’ve built a foundation and got to the goals that you set—then we move into what’s called maintenance. You eat the appropriate amount of calories that you need on a daily basis to stay at your basal metabolic weight. Adjust your eating and stay active to maintain gains that you built. It’s almost like a professional athlete: When he has a competition coming up he trains very hard for a part of the year and then he maintains that into the game. Through the season he holds on to the harder training that he did to prepare himself. But he can’t train at that level all year round or his body would break down. So there are phases where we set a goal and we go after it and we get closer to that goal, and then we go into a maintenance programme to keep what we’ve gained.

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