In CrossFit, Metcon is short for Metabolic Conditioning. At its most basic Metcon can be described as specific training and exercises that are focused on improving specific energy systems within your body. Many people use Metcon and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) interchangeably though there are crucial differences.
Elements of Metcon
A foundational element of CrossFit, Metcon is achieved by performing the WOD exercises doing as many reps (or rounds) as possible (AMRAP). This means that a workout of the day might have you completing a specific workout for a particular time frame. Once that time is up, make a note of the number of rounds you were able to complete.
A Metcon workout typically comprises two primary elements.
- High intensity: The workout has to be sustained and the maximum effort needs to be put into it.
- Rest: Rest can be broken into two categories. It’s either a fixed interval or it can be determined by the individual. In the latter case, the rest period ends when you are confident in your ability to perform the next set of exercises using the proper range of motion and form.
A Metcon workout is a versatile tool in CrossFit. In addition to using a weighted circuit, a Metcon workout can also include gymnastics movements, single modality activities — like swimming, running or biking — or even a combination of the above.
Comparing Metcon VS HIIT
A HIIT workout and Metcon workout share many similarities. In fact, HIIT is a form of Metcon. However, not every Metcon workout is HIIT.
HIIT is typically defined by the following:
- High Intensity – A HIIT workout is one that pushes you to achieve greater than 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Another scale that can be used is that the workout has an 8 out of 10 when rated for perceived exertion.
- Rest – Unlike Metcon, the rest periods for HIIT workouts are typically fixed and determined by the protocol that you’re following. In HIIT, rest might also be referred to as “active recovery.”
- Single Modality – This is another area in which HIIT workouts deviate from Metcon. Usually, a HIIT workout focused on a single modality activity such as swimming, running, biking, etc. There are no rules in HIIT, though, that state that these workouts cannot be combined with weight training or applied to complex equipment.
Focusing on Metcon can help you reach your fitness goals more quickly and in a shorter time frame. Just be sure that your form isn’t sacrificed in an effort to complete more circuits faster.