Cross-Training Part 2: Metabolic Training (aka Feel the Burn!)

September 21, 2015 Leave your thoughts


I’ve been an endurance athlete my entire life. When I started doing triathlons after college, I subscribed to the “more is better” approach. I loved long rides (I’m talking 6-7 hours), long runs (2-3 hours), and long swim workouts (5000+ yards). For the first few years, my body transformed into the lean, muscular physique of a triathlete. Eventually I started to add strength and speed training, but it was 100% geared toward improvement in triathlon, not for the overall physiological health of my body and mind. I didn’t think about the long-term effects of my triathlon training. I thought about winning races, earning prize money and being the best triathlete I could be.


At 43, over ten years removed from competitive triathlon racing, my body eventually got into a funk. I continued to hold on to my triathlon roots. I swam, rode my bike, and ran. Those three sports were still my fitness foundation. Eventually I added hiking and walking, mountain biking, and finally, after having a baby at 40, I decided to try some new classes at the gym.


Trying new classes was intimidating, even for me, a former pro athlete. Since there are a million different fitness classes, I wasn’t quite sure where to start, so the first thing I considered was my “workout tolerance.” I wanted something hard. Something that would make me sweat and push me to possible failure. I also wanted something that could help me offset the impending slowdown of my metabolism as I get older. And I needed a workout that I could do in a short window of time due to my other life constraints.


One of my friends suggested I try this crazy workout called Fitwall taught by this crazy guy named Peter (aka the Iron Yogi!). So I bit the bullet and went to class. Peter teaches a women’s-specific hard-core Fitwall class for women-only. Due to our body structure, he can be more specific to our hips and glutes. There is even one exercise where he says, “Add a Kegel when you squeeze your glutes.” Pretty hilarious and definitely powerful (How many of you just did a Kegel when you read that?!).


These are called Frog Rows. They remain my nemesis to this day!But after class was the moment I was hooked. He had me at, “Now your metabolism will burn at 8-12 times your normal rate for the next 12 hours.”


Yes, my body was jelly and I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair, but the thought of jump-starting my metabolism had me so fired up I didn’t even notice. I also looked forward to the idea of eating piles of food since it would all just magically burn off (not quite true, but still…J).


I’ve been doing Fitwall for about a year, once or twice a week. I still need my outdoor endurance activities to keep me happy and healthy, but I love how Fitwall supplements my life. It has definitely improved my metabolism and I have seen huge strength and flexibility improvements in areas I didn’t even know existed.


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Your metabolic rate is how many calories your body burns at rest. When people say “I have a high metabolism,” what they mean is that they are constantly burning lots of calories, and we tend to be annoyed by them! But what we didn’t realize is that we could become one of them with a little discipline and access to some great workouts.


Fitwall is just one of many workouts that fall under metabolic training. Metabolic training workouts include short bouts of high-intensity reps, spiking your heart rate and burning your muscles, followed by very important rest intervals (often “active rest”). These workouts take less time out of your day, provide longer “after burn” effects, increases testosterone or growth hormone and increases your flexibility and range of motion. You often feel like you might puke, but 99% of the time, you can magically pull through. In other words, these are not easy workouts!


You can do metabolic training at home by following workout videos, but you will need both self-discipline and good form which may be tough without having an expert guide you. You can also do metabolic training at the gym with a personal training or a group fitness class, or ask around for Fitwall facility near you.


No matter what, it’s important to mix up your workout routine and adding some form of metabolic training as you get older will help offset the natural decrease in your metabolic rate with a positive side effect of allowing you to keep eating the things you love!

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