If your goal is to simply ‘lose weight,’ then High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a great solution. However, if your goal is to look more athletic by losing stored body fat and maintaining muscle mass, then studies show it’s time to take a look at Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT).
RT workouts are generally much shorter but far more concentrated than a typical cardio or strength workout. This is definitely not an easy way to exercise, but if you’re ready to reach your fitness goals, then you’re probably keen to learn the 5 ways Metabolic Resistance Training can help you get there!
Combine strength and cardio fitness
Traditional weight training is excellent for gradually gaining strength and building a fabulous physique, but those long rest periods in between sets mean you have to spend much longer at the gym. We do a set, increase our heart rate a little, have a long rest while we scroll our Instagram feed and then repeat.
But here’s the thing - longer workouts don’t necessarily mean you're getting better results! Although lifting heavy weights is intense during each set, the overall intensity of your time spent at the gym is far less than an MRT workout.
MRT is all about using innovative strength training concepts to accelerate your metabolism, and it works by increasing the metabolic ‘cost’ of exercise. It’s one of the most powerful and efficient strategies for gaining strength, building muscle and reducing body fat all at once, but it’s also excellent cardiovascular training.
Although MRT uses strength movements, your heart will be pumping hard because there is minimal rest period. This training style is so powerful because it packs a double-punch of aerobic and anaerobic work. Cardio is built into MRT, so you can make huge gains with your cardiovascular fitness without having to slug out specific ‘cardio days.’
High intensity is the key to achieving great fitness results in a short time
Burn more calories while you workout
High intensity is the key to achieving great fitness results in a short time, and this is something HIIT and MRT have in common. This commonality is probably why these two workout styles are often mistaken to be the same thing. However, HIIT and MRT have some very important fundamental differences.
HIIT is a style of interval training that focuses specifically on cardio. The aim is to do short bursts of high-intensity exercise to briefly raise your heart rate, before allowing your heart rate to drop back down with a period of active recovery. In fact, the recovery time in a HIIT workout should be dependent on your heart rate.
As we’ve learned, MRT is also a great cardio workout. However, this training style focuses on the use of weights and primarily uses compound, multi-joint resistance exercises. Why? Because these movements require the most energy expenditure, and when done correctly, there’s potential to burn hundreds of calories in a short session.
Develop an efficient metabolism
MRT dramatically increases your Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). In other words, this workout style unleashes powerful metabolic forces that work all day and night to improve your health and body composition.
You may be familiar with the term, ‘after-burn’ - EPOC is the technical term for this effect, which is essentially a measure of how much extra energy your body needs to use to return to its normal resting state after a workout.
After an MRT workout, your body will require a huge amount of energy to return to homeostasis, and your EPOC can remain elevated for more than 38 hours! This means you’ll be burning extra calories and stoking your body's fat-burning fire while you’re resting. Regular MRT sessions will increase the efficiency of your metabolism, which is where this training style gets its name!
Growth hormone is a crucial ingredient when it comes to building lean muscle and sculpting a sexy, athletic physique
Boost your ability to build muscle
MRT focuses on compound lifts because these movements recruit and exhaust more muscle groups, which naturally triggers the release of growth hormone (GH) from the pituitary gland into the bloodstream. Growth hormone is a crucial ingredient when it comes to building lean muscle and sculpting a sexy, athletic physique.
You’ll know you’re doing an MRT workout correctly when you feel your muscles burning. ‘The burn’ lets you know that the internal processes are underway to make sure those muscles are stronger next time. By maximising your body’s energy release, you’ll be able to improve 50% in just six weeks, rather than only 25-30%
The essence of MRT is to pack more exercise into less time while working all the major muscles groups in each session
Increase your capacity for physical change
Is traditional weight training part of your lifestyle? If so, you’ve probably had the experience where you can’t do as many reps as you did in the previous set because your muscles just won’t contract any more. It burns! When this happens, your muscles are no longer getting enough oxygen to break down glucose for energy, so lactic acid rapidly begins to accumulate in your muscles before spilling over into the bloodstream.
That moment when you just can’t do another rep is known as your lactate threshold. Over time, MRT can increase this threshold by improving your body’s ability to buffer lactic acid, quickly shuttle it out of your muscle tissue, and counteract its negative effects.
What this means, is that completing a short MRT program before embarking on a strength or hypertrophy focused training program can significantly improve your tolerance for higher volumes of work, which is a crucial component of making those gains. Yes, that’s right - MRT can even help you get better results from other training styles!
What you need to know to get started with MRT
The essence of MRT is to pack more exercise into less time while working all the major muscles groups in each session. Circuit training is the most popular MRT technique, as it’s been shown to have more significant effects on the extent and duration of EPOC. So here’s how you do it:
- Set up a series of exercise stations, starting with the upper body (chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps), then moving to the lower body (quads, hamstrings, calves), and finishing off with abdominals.
- Incorporate as many compound movements as possible, such as squats, deadlifts, rows and presses — Reserve single-joint movements for the arms and calves.
- Do sets of around 15-20 reps at about 60-65% of your 1-rep max (1RM).
- Perform reps at a moderately fast tempo, but make the concentric portion of the movement (the lift) fast and explosively without sacrificing great technique.
- The eccentric portion of the movement (the lowering) should be somewhat slower and controlled (around 2-3 seconds), so your muscles have to work even harder to resist gravity. Lowering the weights with control leads to much better results in less time!
- Move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest (ideally less than 15 seconds). This will be seriously challenging! Fortunately, it’s all over pretty quickly.
- The metabolic effect comes from pushing yourself in each set, so aim for a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of about 9 on a scale from 1 to 10.
- Perform three or more circuits in total with a few minutes to rest and rehydrate in between.
- Prioritise rest and recovery! Do MRT sessions no more three, non-consecutive days per week (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday) to allow for adequate recovery, more enjoyment, and better fitness results.
- De-load and use lighter weights for a week every fourth week or so to avoid overtraining. Aim for RPE 7 on your de-load weeks.
- Limit MRT cycles to a maximum of about eight weeks.
Nutrition tip for MRT
Whether you maintain or increase your muscle mass depends on your caloric intake. Eating in a slight caloric deficit while undertaking an MRT program will enable you to lose body fat faster while maintaining your muscle mass. Eating at maintenance or in a slight surplus while undertaking an MRT program will help you increase your muscle mass and gradually lower your body fat percentage. Whatever your goals are, support your fitness journey by making high-quality protein a top priority!
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