Before diving into the 4 Cs, it is important to understand some basic principles when designing metcons.
The majority of clients that you work with will get the best results from aerobic, or OPEX Sustain, metabolic conditioning progressions. This refers to repeatable training that uses the aerobic energy system, with oxygen as the primary fuel source. While high-intensity, unsustainable metcons may make your clients work hard, they will not develop a robust aerobic system and can lead to burnout.
There are four main principles to remember to keep your metcons aerobic:
While it may be tempting to rush to complex AMRAPs and For Time metcons, this fast track approach can create compensatory movement patterns, provide the incorrect stimulus to drive the desired results, and ultimately, limit the improvements in aerobic capacity.
If the goal is to progress a client towards doing mixed modal metcons, then the best way for you to create long-term results is to use the 4 Cs framework—Cyclical, Circuit, Chipper, and Constant Variance.
The first step in a metcon progression is cyclical work, which refers to monostructural movements such as rowing, biking, or running. Cyclical metcons are a great way to learn pacing and develop the aerobic system as the muscle contractions inside them are simple and easy to repeat.
Client James demonstrates proper execution of the following cyclical metcon, including maintaining consistent RPM and repeatability between sets.
Rest 3 minutes
The second step in metcon progression is the circuit. Circuits involve rotating between multiple exercises, and may include cyclical, gymnastics and weightlifting activities. When programming circuit metcons, begin with non-complex exercises to avoid muscle endurance limitations and always consider what your client is capable of doing before selecting exercises.
Client Jacob demonstrates proper execution of the following circuit metcon, including intraset repeatability and quick transitions between exercises.
5 min AMRAP @ sustained pace:
Rest 5 minutes
The third step in progressing a metcon is a chipper. Chippers are For Time workouts with multiple exercises back to back that must be completed in order. The chipper-style challenges muscle endurance capabilities and the ability to pace. The client must learn how to break each exercise, where necessary, into sets with short rest to complete the work as efficiently as possible and to avoid muscle endurance limitations.
Client Mandy demonstrates proper execution of the following chipper metcon, including breaking the wall balls into small sets with short rest and maintaining a steady pace on the burpees.
For Time @ sustained pace:
Rest 5 minutes
The fourth and most complex step in the metcon progress is constant variance.
Constant variance metcons are a type of chipper where the order of the exercises changes each interval, with the goal of maintaining the same times for each interval. Constant variance forces the body to relearn how to pace the workout every round, and is usually reserved for high-level mixed modal athletes.
Client Diego demonstrates proper execution of the following constant variance metcon, including maintaining repeatability each set despite changes in exercise order.
For Time @ sustained pace:
*Change order for each set:
As a coach, you will be faced with a variety of clients with different training goals and functions. How you apply the 4 Cs of metabolic conditioning will always depend on the individual you’re coaching.
To help every client reach their goals and get lasting results, you need a method to assess their capabilities, individualize exercise programs, and match them with lifestyle and nutrition prescriptions.
In the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), we’ll teach the tools of personalization and mentor you to stand out in the market.
Click the button to learn more, and start designing personalized fitness programs for any client, both in-person and online.
Metabolic conditioning, or metcon for short, is a buzzword in the fitness industry. The term is largely used to describe intense, mixed modal workouts that cause a large metabolic response.
The metcon is a powerful tool, but it is often only prescribed to provide a tough workout for the day, with little consideration for different skill levels and the long term progression of aerobic capacity.
To better use this tool, we’ve developed the 4 Cs framework: Cyclical, Circuit, Chipper, and Constant Variance. In this course you’ll learn the 4 Cs and how to implement them for beginner, intermediate, and advanced clients.