MRT & the Afterburn Effect

Popping in today with a post about the most effective ways to exercise and the afterburn: what it is and how to experience it! Now…what if I told you you could:

1.) Lose fat faster

2.) Workout for less than 30/day, 5 days a week

3.) Employ no more than 10 exercises to work your entire body

…sound too good to be true? I’m always sceptical about things like this, thinking they’re schemes and not based on legitimate studies. However, after listening to a vlog from Dr. Kareem Samhouri, CSCS, HFS, I’m more convinced now than ever about the power and benefits of metabolic resistance training (MRT).

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In fact, I have been convinced of its benefits for quite a while now. I talk a lot about high intensity interval training (in both cardiovascular (think: sprints!) and resistance training (weights) formats on the blog. The more I read and the more I workout myself, the more I’m convinced that this is the best way to move for the fastest results. However, before jumping into some thoughts for the day let me first say this: everyone has different reasons for working out and different goals they desire to achieve. Some of you reading might be more endurance athletes (like Heather!), and if that’s the case, it’s vital to get long runs or swims in! Others of you might be focusing on getting faster, gaining strength, or becoming a better cyclist. I know Janetha is getting great results with the Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer (which, at different parts of the program, contains some longer, slower workouts overall and intrigued me). And personally, I still love to run long distances (18 miles for fun, anyone?).

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So, take this post with a grain of salt and always listen to your body. Remember that, while I am a personal trainer, everyone’s story, history, body and experiences are different, so please consult with a doctor and use common sense before changing anything dramatically. Smile I think many of my readers are looking to get fit, live healthier, and see results in their bodies that match their feelings, not train for specific things (I know this is the case with my clients). That’s the point of view I’m approaching these thoughts from.

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Essentially, metabolic resistance training is working out with resistance with incomplete recovery. The focus is on 8, 12, 15, even 20 repetition range with less recovery and presents similar physiological benefits as interval training. Because it gets your heart rate pumping, it’s also cardiovascular training! Think about it this way: it’s like replacing a 30 second sprint with a 30 second kettlebell swing. The force is transferred differently over your body (hips, knees, and is more muscular) and there’s less impact. However, you still achieve a metabolic response (as you’re still training the same energy systems and increasing your heart rate). In other words, with this type of training you still get fat burning results but with less impact on your joints.

This high intensity training can be broken up into two kinds:

  • Metabolic Resistance Training: heavier weights with less reps; often soreness afterward, and
  • Metabolic Conditioning: lighter weights with higher reps that, when done with less recovery, increase the heart rate and work the metabolic systems.

A typical circuit of moves that fit this bill include: push ups, pull ups, squats, body weight rows, kettlebell swings (all the moves I do with my clients almost every session!). The great thing about these exercises is that you can always modify and vary them (like swapping in decline push ups, squat + press with kettlebell, triceps dips, snatches, etc) and they work more than one muscle group at the same time.

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If you’ve plateaued in your fitness or weight loss goals, think about trying something different and upping your intensity with these type of exercises. Remember that continually changing up your routine means that your body adapts but never plateaus; maybe it’s time for a change!

One of the best benefits to MRT? You burning belly fat! We can work on ab strength by attempting to simulate regular ab movement and strain like we experience in daily life (like jumping over a puddle or bending over to pick up something that rolled away on the ground). This can be accomplished using: speed, increasing your intensity and utilizing multi-dimensional movement. Another aspect of fitness you want to incorporate is balance into our workouts, being intentional to include forward/backward, lateral (side to side) movement and rotation into your workouts (source). MRT helps torch calories and build your functional strength as you burn fat, improve your balance, and let that heart rate sky rocket!

Great resources for this type of training include Craig Ballantyne from Turbulance Training (check out a great video that breaks this down from Craig, from which much of the above information comes), Shin O’Take from Max Workouts, the BodyRock Team from BodyRock and Joel Marion from Body Transformation (I refer to a great article he wrote below).

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Now, what about that afterburn? The afterburn effect is essentially an elevated metabolism after your workout is done. In other words, it’s the effect of increased metabolism, calorie and fat burning that takes place after your workout. High intensity workouts trigger this from anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours after your workout. Traditional workouts and low-intensity cardio workouts do nothing to trigger this effect (that’s more into endurance territory). It’s not the amount of calories you burned during your exercise (those treadmill calories counters aren’t too reliable, by the way!), but after it’s over.

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Although he’s promoting his own program, this is a great short video that helps explain the afterburn effect: Coach Ryan’s Afterburn Explanation.

You won’t get that afterburn from slow-paced workouts with breaks in between or much of it from steady-state cardio workouts. You must get into a certain mode to make these shorter, intense workouts worth your while and to experience afterburn. That mode is called:

Kill Mode (‘kil · mōd) noun – a mental shift that occurs approximately half way through a work set in which fatigue is ignored, adrenaline prevails, and all-out max effort fat loss domination begins

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Don’t you love that?! Open-mouthed smile I always tell my clients to think about it this way: if we’re not working hard enough during these short workouts, it’s simply going to be a waste of time. It has to be tough for you to be able to work out for short amounts of time AND see results. Enter: kill mode. Think about it this way: you’re doing 1 minute of mountain climbers. The first 30 seconds you cruise through, barely noticing your abs that are engaged, heart rate that’s rising and legs that are pumping. Before long, you come to a crossroads when it gets tough: you could finish out the set with some breaks, dropping to your knees for a moment, OR you could get into kill mode, focus and get it done. Take your workouts to this level to really see change and fire up your afterburners!

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Hopefully that helps explains MRT and the afterburn effect more clearly to you (I know it was helpful for me to review!) and possibly encouraged you to step it up in a different way at the gym or in your basement, like me! Remember that there are different ways to workout and your experience, injuries and goals will play a role in how you choose to workout. But if you’re like the majority of North Americans out there who simply want to get rid of excess fat, develop more lean muscle, and spend less time working out, do it the right way with MRT and metabolic conditioning.

Speaking of which, I’m going to jump on a workout myself here! Would love to hear your thoughts on these types of workouts! Thanks for reading and engaging in discussion. Live well & be well today, friends!

-Bonnie

16 Comments
  1. January 17, 2012 at 21:45
    Reply

    I may be an endurance athlete, but I'm trying to fit in more workouts like this to shake this up in my routine. This is interesting stuff and I know when I tried BodyRock (finally) last week it made me feel very out of shape - my body is just not used to that! I would guess that run intervals qualify as high intensity training? Would love your thoughts on if including workouts like Bodyrock are still beneficial for endurance athletes (challenge your body, burn off extra "padding") or if you feel it's more counter-productive. This stuff is fascinating to learn about!

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:38
      Reply

      Great comment and question, Heather. Yes, I think these type of workouts are definitely beneficial for endurance athletes. They will help make you faster, know how to dig deeper, and see results as you challenge your body differently than a long run, bike, or swim would. You're right on burning off the excess "padding" - steady state cardio does NOT do that as effectively as MRT or metabolic conditioning (yes, like intervals and sprints!). You'll have to throw them in more here and there (although I'd encourage you to keep it up consistently whether it's one or two times a week) as you focus on your training for your specific distances/races.

  2. January 17, 2012 at 22:17
    Reply

    Awesome post Bonnie! Well said! I try to change up my workouts pretty frequently. I kind of go by how I'm feeling that week. Some weeks all I want to do is run and do yoga, while others it's all about the gym. I just choose what's going to make me feel happy! As for clients, it depends on their needs and goals and I try to change up their routines, once they've nailed the basics and have developed the proper strength and posture. Be well!

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:35
      Reply

      Thanks, Kathleen! I'm the same as you - I kind of go with the flow when it comes to my workouts as well, but usually there's some bit of high intensity something or other involved. ;) Great to go based on goals for clients, and their abilities after form and posture (definitely agree there!); although I think for them too MRT in some shape or form fits into accomplishing those goals! Love that. :) Thanks again for the note.

  3. Lauren
    January 18, 2012 at 03:21
    Reply

    Thanks for this post Bonnie,loved it!!! Very helpful!

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:33
      Reply

      I'm so glad you found it helpful, Lauren! Thanks for the comment. :)

  4. January 18, 2012 at 13:54
    Reply

    SO stealing that afterburn graph to show to my weight loss clients!! They just don't get it sometimes that steady state cardio isn't the best.

  5. marilyn chalmers
    January 18, 2012 at 17:10
    Reply

    Loved this post...but loved the picture of you and me more... I MISS YOU! Can you send me that picture...I want to put it up in my gym! Love you Bon! mom

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:29
      Reply

      ...I love you, mom! :D Will send that picture along.

  6. January 18, 2012 at 20:35
    Reply

    really informative post, Bonnie! I love that.. "kill mode" - it sounds so bad-ass and intense! Since training for my race, I have been finding it hard (or hard to find the motiviation, maybe?) to change up my workouts like I have been the last while.. although this post gave me the kick I need. Thanks!

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:28
      Reply

      Glad you've got that kick! Get into kill mode and keep it up! :D

  7. January 18, 2012 at 22:07
    Reply

    Thanks for 'splaining this. I didn't know what mRT was but I do it all the time! Love it, thanks Bonnie. I know for a fact it's changed my body. I used to do cardio til the cows came home with no results. moo lol.

    • January 19, 2012 at 19:27
      Reply

      Awesome to hear, Deb! Yes, I see how it's changed my body too. It's definitely yields different results as it works your body differently. Moo on the cardio indeed. ;)

  8. [...] to be guest posting today while she enjoys Colorado! I blog over at Life to the Full where I share fitness tips, provide workout challenges, and chronicle mine and my husband’s adventures [...]

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