In a previous article, I explained how HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is the fastest way to burn fat while improving cardiovascular fitness, according to the latest research. The traditional approach to HIIT is sprinting, whether done on a track, a bike, or in a pool.
Recently, a new approach to HIIT has emerged that combines all the benefits of HIIT with resistance training. This hybrid form is called Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT), and it uses full-body exercises that are performed circuit-style in an interval fashion. With MRT, you alternate high intensity, all-out bursts of movement with short periods of rest, leaving little time for recovery. These workouts are intense and short, unlike cardio workouts that go on forever and are so often deadly boring. Also, with MRT, you don’t need much equipment. You can focus on bodyweight exercises, and use dumbbells and kettlebells.
But the real beauty to these fast-paced workouts is that you crank up your metabolism to burn fat while also building muscle, thereby improving your body composition (ratio of lean body mass to fat). Studies show that MRT also improves your V02max (a measurement of endurance training status), lactate threshold (a marker of physical performance), and HDL (the good cholesterol).
There are many ways to do metabolic resistance circuits. You can lift heavier weights and rest more to emphasize muscle building. Or you can lift lighter weights, perform more reps and rest less to emphasize conditioning.
Here is an example of a five-exercise MRT circuit using only your bodyweight and one kettlebell. If you would like to give it a try, I suggest you perform this circuit three times with two minutes of rest between each round, and rest as little as possible between exercises within the circuit (no more than 15 seconds).
1. Prison Bodyweight Squats – 20 reps
2. Kettlebell Swings—30 seconds
3. T Push Ups – 10 reps per side
4. Mountain Climbers – 12 reps per side
5. Lateral Lunge – 20 reps per side
Notes on the exercises:
Prison Bodyweight Squats — Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your toes pointing slightly outward. With hands behind your head, bend your knees and hips, keeping your back straight and knees pointed in the same direction as your feet, and descend by pushing your hips down and back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Return by extending knees and hips until legs are straight and you are standing.
Kettlebell Swings — Stand a foot behind the kettlebell with a wider than shoulder with stance, toes pointed out about 20 degrees. Sit back into your heels and grab the kettlebell with both hands. Start by pulling the kettlebell through your legs close to your groin and thrust the bell forward to chest height using your hips. Squeeze your quads and glutes at the top of the movement and repeat for a desired number of repetitions or timed sets.
T Push Ups — Perform a traditional push up. In the up position, balance on your left hand and rotate your body, using your core muscles, 180 degrees until your right arm is perpendicular to the floor (your body will form a T). Rotate back until the right arm is down and you are in the up position of the push up. Then perform a traditional push up and upon return to the up position and repeat the process, but balance on your right hand and rotate your left arm and torso. Continue this sequence for the desired number of repetitions.
Mountain Climbers – Begin in a push up position with arms straight and the balls of your feet on the floor. Brace your midsection and keep your body still. Bring your right knee towards your chest and then back down to the starting position. Repeat with your left knee and continue alternating your feet as fast as you can.
Lateral Lunge — Stand with feet together and hands above your chest. Keeping your abs tight and chest high, take a big step to the right and squat down by lowering your hips down and back. Your trailing leg should be relaxed with knee extended. Then push off with your right leg and return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on the right side and then switch to the left side or alternate back and forth between sides within the same set.