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Metabolic Conditioning and Training Principles


Using Metabolic Training to Address Client Goals

When creating a metabolic program for your clients, you need to look at their end goals and how you can set up their training split accordingly. Always remember that rarely is there ever a right or wrong way to do things, but rather, a way that is best suited to the athlete or trainee at hand.

Having a client who is looking to improve their muscle strength and tone, burn fat, and achieve better health through fitness, their program is going to be structured differently than someone who has the goal to improve their athletic performance by increasing speed and muscular endurance.

Metabolic Training Principles

The good news is that proper metabolic training can address just about any goal a client may have, therefore it’s applicable to just about any client. In order to best match the appropriate split with the goal, a trainer needs to gain a deeper understanding of the overall design principles upon which metabolic training is based on and then learn the various ways that metabolic training can be set up.

1. Specificity

The first principle is specificity.  This term was coined by TL Delorme in speaking about training programming.  This basically refers to the concept that any workout program given to a client needs to be specifically targeted towards their goals, needs, and preferences.

For example, if a client explains that they want to improve their chest muscle strength, it would be imperative that the trainer include chest-based exercises such as the bench press, push-ups, or chest fly’s into their workout routine. Having them focus on squats and lunges would not go in hand with the concept of specificity.

On the other hand, if an athlete is training for power or high-speed movements, their primary work should be focused on recruiting as many motor units at once at the highest velocity possible. This will help to increase their power capability and increase their chances of successfully reaching their goal.

Likewise, following the principle of specificity would be doing exercises in the gym that mimic movements are done in the sport of choice. For instance, if a basketball player is working on improving their vertical jump, doing box jumps would be a natural progression to improving this area. It’s specific to the sport being performed.

If a program lacks specificity, it may still offer fitness and health improvement benefits.  Unfortunately, the client/athlete would not be realizing the goal that had set for themselves.

2. Overload

The next programming concept to take into account and incorporate into metabolic training is the principle of overload. This essentially refers to making sure that at each workout session, the client is doing more than they did previously. This acts to provide a stimulus that will help to condition their body.

If a client or athlete goes into the gym and performs the same workout over and over again, they would not be making progress because their body has no reason to grow stronger, faster, or fitter. Instead, they will simply maintain the status quo.

Programs that naturally have overload built-in are also going to lend more to improving body composition, as well as they are more likely to create the energy demand required to achieve this goal.

The most obvious way of increasing the overload in a program is to simply add more weight to the lifts. If the athlete is capable of doing this, that’s the best route to go. At times though, adding more weight will not be feasible. Remember the client must maintain proper form at all times, so if adding more weight means moving out of good form, it’s best to choose an alternative solution.

In that case, consider adding more reps to be performed, add more total time to the workout session, increase the set number, or change the exercise order. You might even move from a less advanced exercise to a more advanced one, in order to create the necessary overload to get the desired results. If doing exercises for a fixed amount of time, adding more time to perform the exercise is another clear way of increasing the overload.

While adding more overload, keep in mind that only one element should be increased at a time. If overloading is done too often with too many variables, the client will be unlikely to keep up and this can result in overtraining.

Apply overload slowly over time.

3. Progression

Progression, not to be confused with overload, represents the need to increase the overall intensity of the workout program. This is not just about increasing one variable of the program, but rather, changing the entire program so that the client can continue progressing. Eventually, they will reach a point where just adjusting one or two variables is unlikely to produce the desired result, in which case a total program overhaul is likely the better solution.

When progression is properly planned into a workout routine, the result is better long-term benefits and clients will also show better overall adherence. Finally, also note that progression should be applied systematically and gradually for best results. This is not something that should be throwing at a client haphazardly, but rather something that is well planned out and part of their workout routine.

Getting Started

Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.

Our Metabolic Conditioning Coach Course is the #1 training system that will help your clients burn fat, lose weight, build muscle, improve cardio and quickly get into the best shape of their lives.

Is your recertification coming up? Learn more about earning your CEU credits. You can find the full list of CEU courses here.

If you are ready to start your online personal training or coaching business, don’t forget to learn more about our online coaching course. You will also really enjoy this very comprehensive training course called Online Expert Empire.

There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.

NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.

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