The world of fitness can sometimes be confusing. It seems like, with every new scientific study on athletic performance, a new workout protocol is made. In the sea of workouts that span from 7-minute bodyweight workouts to 2-hour long visits to the gym, it’s really hard to choose the right workout to do.
Make no mistake, each workout has its own benefits and drawbacks. There is yet a perfect, one-type-fits-all workout to be concocted and presented to the world. In order to choose the right workout, the best thing to do is to start from your own needs and the things you like to do.
If you like the idea of HIIT, but would also prefer to add some weights into the equation, while getting all the benefits from the fat-torching, short and intense exercises, then MRT might do wonders for you.
Don’t be scared, it sounds very science-y, but in reality, this workout makes common sense and is very intuitive.
What MRT is
First thing’s first. MRT stands for metabolic resistance training. It entails doing a series of exercises back to back, at a high-intensity, with minimal rest periods (ring any bells?) with each exercise engaging a different muscle group, allowing you to do 10 to 20 exercises in one workout. What this does is maximise your efficiency and save your time.
The exercises alone consist of explosive total body movements (think burpees or jumping lunges) and doing weight-lifting exercises at a high-intensity; hence the ’resistance’ in the name. Some would call these exercises ’functional’, but you can read what we have to say about that here.
By doing those exercises back to back, with little or no rest in between, you’re forcing your body to use up all the oxygen and you’re pushing yourself to get into the anaerobic zone, where your body will become oxygen-depleted (for a short period of time!) and will need to solely use the ATP molecules to get the required energy needed to perform the exercise to your muscles.
This oxygen ’debt’ you’re intentionally creating while doing MRT will lead to increased intake of oxygen aka EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) after the workout is complete, creating the much-sought-after afterburn effect, which will cause you to burn fat even after you’ve stopped working out. The whole process increases your resting metabolic rate, and with that, we’ve uncovered the secret behind the name MRT.
By switching the muscle groups that are engaged in compound heavy-lifting, you are able to do MRT a bit longer than regular HIIT, which enables you to burn up to 600 calories in 20-30 minutes of intense exercise! And that’s without the EPOC afterburn effect mentioned above.
Would you be able to achieve the same results by doing regular weight-lifting for 50 minutes, followed by a standard endurance cardio training the next 30-40 minutes? Sure. But why would you?
MRT vs. Cardio vs. HIIT
Compared to traditional cardio, MRT is a way better and more efficient workout – that is, if you’re the type that likes a challenge and has no problem with high-intensity exercises. It is high-intensity, it uses short rest periods, it’s anaerobic, makes you stronger, and it makes you work hard by adding resistance to your workouts, all of which cardio doesn’t do.
As far as HIIT, MRT is capable of increasing strength more, due to weights being involved in the workout, which makes for not only a significant caloric difference, but the end result is that yes, you’ll look stronger and more athletic by doing MRT.
Who should and shouldn’t do MRT
As with any more intense training, the first thing you should ask yourself is if you’re up for the challenge and ready to commit to a certain type of workout for at least 2-3 months. If the answer to that is yes, and you also want to:
- shorten your workouts while maintaining their effectiveness,
- get lean and build muscle as fast as possible,
- build your cardio fitness along with your strength training,
- achieve that more athletic (read: ripped) look, as opposed to just looking good and healthy,
then the MRT might just be the workout you’ve been waiting for!
However, there are some risk groups that would be far better off doing easier and less intense workouts.
People who are injured or are recovering from an injury, should not by any means start an MRT routine. Those are exactly the people who would benefit greatly from doing functional recovery workouts with a medical supervision, before getting the green light for something this extreme.
Secondly, if you have any sort of underlining health condition which prevents you from doing this type of exercise, you should first consult with your doctor. Don’t worry though, every type of workout is effective when paired with good nutrition, the only difference is that you’ll get to your goal a bit slower, but on the flip side, you’ll get there healthy, which is the whole point of working out in the first place!
MRT might just be the ultimate HIIT meets weight-lifting workout, garnering the best of both worlds. Among its many benefits are increased muscle strength and improved cardio fitness (because, make no mistake, if you endure 30 minutes of MRT that absolutely counts as endurance training and will benefit your cardio performance), less time spent in the gym and more time spent just living your life, decreased stress levels and better sleep – just to name a few.
The important thing to note is how your body reacts to MRT. If it’s giving you signals that one MRT a week is just about enough, listen to your body. Never force it, or you’re putting yourself at a risk of injury. Your body will also tell you when it’s ready for more.
The best way to ensure you’re consistent with MRT is to start slow, sleep well, stretch (and then stretch some more) and, as with any other workout – have fun with it.
If you're interested in trying out a Metabolic Resistance Workout, check out our MetaPWR page and find a coach near you.