Sunday, September 7, 2008

Performance Hybrid Training for Metabolic Conditioning and Fat Loss

I first learned of metabolic conditioning in the early 1970s. High-Intensity Training pioneer and Nautilus inventor, Arthur Jones, conducted extensive exercise studies at West Point. The cadets involved were varsity football players, i.e., young and in good shape. Jones found that in some of his brutal circuits,
due to a type of systemic shutdown, the athletes were unable to continue working out while the same exercises, with the same weight and longer rests were no problem. It was when the rest periods were shortened between exercises (to little to none) that the athletes experienced nausea, lightheadedness and were otherwise unable to continue the circuits. Strength-wise, they could handle the resistance required, and all of them were in good cardiovascular shape (as tested on the Cooper 12-min Run Test) so what was it that was shutting these athletes down? Jones named this previously un-described conditioning Metabolic Conditioning. Once this discovery was made, people (myself included) began experimenting with metabolic-style conditioning workouts.

When heavy strength efforts were combined with short rests plus elevated cardio stress, the metabolism couldn't handle the increased demand: the cadets suffered systemic failure. Jones, and the people running the experiment, saw this form of conditioning as a boon to athletes seeking to develop high levels of
simultaneous strength, endurance and cardio. The programmed workouts simulated real-world conditioning needs, especially those involved in intense sports such as boxing, judo, wrestling and jiujitsu. Of course, any athlete can benefit from this kind of android-like work capacity! Once the liver adapts to producing the enzymes needed to buffer the high levels of blood lactates, huge amounts of work can be accomplished in short time increments without undue fatigue. What an athletic advantage to have this kind of work capacity! You can literally work your opponents into the ground!

When coupled with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, moderate fat diet, metabolic workouts catalyze body composition changes. The tremendous metabolic stimulation stokes the fat-burning mechanism for hours. At the end of a day, you'll burn far more calories completing a workout like this than a longer, low-intensity aerobic workout. Anaerobic work increases aerobic capacity while the reverse is not true. Not only does aerobic work not increase anaerobic capacity, it may have a detrimental effect! Most sports (outside of distance running, cycling and swimming) are anaerobic-based and you'll get the biggest bang for the buck by doing the Coach's performance-hybrid workouts. Unlike straight cardio routines (performed on bike or treadmill) metabolic conditioning can add muscle while simultaneously improving cardio conditioning.

Once I "got it" in the 1970's, I ran with it. I experimented with various high-intensity metabolic routines and consider them a major factor in my successes in wrestling and jiujitsu. I've successfully trained many world-class and amateur athletes using my hybrid performance conditioning.

Another huge benefit of this kind of training is it's effectively anti-aging. Recent research shows metabolic conditioning gives a considerable boost in HGH and T-levels. For you boomers wishing to remain ageless athletes, I highly recommend you give it a try.

As a further method of raising my own T-levels, I have my ever-helpful assistant don a bikini and oversee my training whilst looking pretty. It's a well known fact looking at scantily clad women raises T-levels in heterosexual males. She counts my reps, times my sets, and provides my peri-workout nutrition. Something every guy over 40 can definitely use!

The basic idea of putting together a metabolic conditioning workout is to choose primarily whole-body movements using a lot of muscle mass. The goal is to spread the fatigue evenly over the entire body, not just one muscle group. Of course certain muscles will fatigue earlier than others in some exercises, but local muscular failure is to be avoided. Recently, I've been reading the work of Christian Thibaudeau and it's been influencing some of my exercise selections and pairings. The workouts consist of metabolic pairings in twos or threes, with a brief rest between each mini-circuit. There are usually two or three of these pairing per workout. The first movement is usually fairly heavy, followed by a body weight/whole body movement, then chased with a core-specific movement. I like to include level changes in each group and make sure to balance hip/thigh level changes, e.g., squats or lunges, with hamstring/glute/low-back level changes, e.g., heavy swings, snatches, cleans or deadlifts.

People often ask me how I combine this or that when constructing workouts and today's workout, in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, is a perfect example of how the Coach puts it all together:

Warm-up with the Maxbells Kettlebell Mobility Series
(a joint mobility series I designed making use of the KB, which strengthens and mobilizes every muscle and joint in the body)

A1) Double KB Front Squat-to-Military-press
aka Thrusters
(the difference between my move and the Thruster is I do a full ass-to-the-floor squat)
12 reps

A2) Lifeline Jungle Gym Chin-Ups w/ Bent Leg knee Raise
*start from a dead hang (JG suspended from tree limb or swing set)
as you chin yourself, bring the knees to the chest and squeeze the abs
6-8 reps

A3) Alternating Elbow-to-Knee aka Bicycles
15 reps L/R (30 total)
*hands must be clasped tightly behind head, you must touch the elbow to knee and fully extend the leg each rep

perform A1-A3 with no rest, then take 70-sec rest. That's one round.
Perform 5 rounds.

B1) Double Kettlebell Snatch
10-12 reps

B2) Bench Jumps
Max in 30-sec

B3) Renegade Row w/ push-ups
8-10 reps
*If these are easy for you, do the advanced version with your feet elevated on a bench
B1-B3 are a circuit. perform 4 rounds. Rest 60-sec between rounds.

You'll be sucking wind bad when you hit the Renegade Rows! Keep your form tight and minimize any twisting
(which is very difficult). Keep the abs engaged.

C1) Alternating Clubbell Shield Cast
20 reps per arm, 40 reps total
*I used 15# clubs but you can use dbs if you don't have clubs or see my earlier blog on making inexpensive clubs.

C2) Iranian Twisting Push-Ups on push-up board
10 reps

C3) Two-Hand Clubbell Shield Cast
* I used a 35# club
* This is a very similar movement to gadja training used by wrestlers in northern India and totally smokes the core as well as the grip
6-8 reps each side

Perform C1-C3 without rest. 60-sec rest after C3. 4 rounds.

This little routine will work you from top to bottom and your ticker as well. You'll feel an even fatigue throughout the entire body, with the exception of the last circuit which is mainly grip, wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder. It's a tough routine, take your BCAAs and your recovery drink.

After I finished, I took a dive in the local art museum fountain to cool off, then feasted with my young assistant down at Famous Fourth Street Deli with a six-egg-and-cheese omelet and a side of lox.

The above is just one example of the types of workouts I create for myself and my clients and specifically meets my needs as a jiujitsu practitioner. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think, I always appreciate hearing from you.

Yours in Strength & Health,
Coach Maxwell


Hutch said...

Hi Steve,

Great post and I look forward to trying out the workout (just as soon as the rain stops here in the UK).

I have a question about the Jungle Gym, if I may? I've had trouble finding a supplier in the UK and think this will be a great piece of equipment for me as I travel a lot for my job (1 in every 5 weeks). I finally located a supplier and they want £36.99 (about $65, plus about $10 delivery) for the JG1 and £54.99 ($96) for the JG2. They also have a split JG variant.

In your opinion is it worth me stumping up the $100 for the JG2 or would I do just as well with the original?

I took delivery of your Joint Mobility Encyclopaedia DVD earlier this year and it's totally brought my hips and neck back into condition. I am truly thankful!

Finally, I heard a rumour that you might be teaching a seminar in London, UK this year but have not seen any details. Any truth?

Warmest wishes.

Steve Maxwell said...

Hi Hutch,
I had a JG2 and I didn't like it as much as the original. I prefer the straps hanging free, it makes the JG easier to adjust. Otherwise, it looks like the handles are a bit padded, but that isn't worth much, 'd stick with the simple version.
Between the regular and split varieties, the split makes it easier to do dips, but the regular is easier to hang on tree limbs. If you'll be using it mostly outdoors, go with the regular and indoors, maybe the split.
Glad you like the Encyclopedia of Jont Mobility! I get so many good testimonials about it. Contact and ask for Trudy. - Steve

john said...

Wow, what an encouraging and inspiring post!

Encouraging for us geezers who are in fact implementing the type of approach that you illustrate. (Although I'm still working on finding a super-hot bikini model to oversee my workouts ;-)

Inspiring because your results speak for themselves and make me want to work that much harder to "be like Steve."


Rainer said...

Hi, Steve!
Amazing informations and thanks for the great post. By the way how heavy are the Comp.KB ? Hope to see you one day in Germany :-)


Mich said...

Great workout! How often would you do a workout like this--3 days a week, 5 days a week?

Can't wait to see you in San Jose on Saturday!

Steve Maxwell said...

Thanks, John!

Rainer, the KBs are 16kg. They are hollow and can be made heavier.
Still working on Germany, let me know if you have any leads.

Mich, depending on what you're doing. If you're doing any other sport, especially, just once or twice a week. See you Saturday.- Steve

Clint said...

Thanks, Steve! One of the things I like about your style and ego-less approach it that you reference originators of training methods, and we can clearly see how you develop and sprinkle your own "Maxwellisms" into the original models in order to progress or alter them for greater efficacy, or for a specific application.

I've been trying to increase work capacity via less rests for the past few months, and your post provided me with more fuel for thought, and even inspired a workout last night of Heaven and Hell, Hanging Knee Raises and TGUs (slow and reversed) with minimal rest periods. Obviously, your "Omelet" workout is another example of an intense stystemic, anaerobic approach as well.

This type of training helped me "hang" at a BJJ/Muay Thai seminar earlier this year, in spite of not having trained in martial arts in years. I'm planning to join a local grappling school (jujutsu, judo and sambo) so this type of training will obviously help me prepare for the rigors of practice, even though I know the most benefit comes from actually participating in the said discipline.

Thanks again for an!ther great post!


PS - I also need to work on convincing my wife to don a bikini in order to provide additional hormonal encouragement during my workouts. However, I know that she will ask me to return the favor in order to promote hormone balance during her workouts as well... How far should I go? I'm not a fan of "banana hammocks", but this might be part of the deal ;)

Jorge said...

Is the Maxbell Kettlebell mobiity series available yet ?.Jorge

R. said...

Hutch or anyone looking at the jungle gym. I recommend purchasing the split version. I have found that it is quite easy to loop them together to form on piece to hang on a tree.

BamBam said...

Where do you get the loop version? When I bought mine I got the other one. The looped version would be more helpful for me to have.

robert lagace said...

Hi, Steve,
Thanks for being so open with some great workouts. I still do the 30 minute don't put the bell down KB workout from years ago on the DD forum and the 2005 RKC cert.

This hybrid workout (as of now), the sandbag one from a few posts back, and the 30 minute Maxercise KB one are routinely worked into my HOC type training days.

So I am wondering if any of your new DVDs geared towards these kind of workouts. I am looking for fun/hard/intense 30-80 routines that work it all with a cardio theme. Follow along workouts are great because I sometimes get some co-workers to come out with me and they can follow the DVD to learn the workout.

Most of my training is LCCJ & 2 KB LCCJ with a focus on competing in GS. I do not follow the strict AKC mold as I like to do deadlifts, pull ups, Steve Maxwell workouts, and Art of Strength workouts to keep and more "well rounded" workout schedule.

So if you can recommended a DVD that might fit in with what I am looking for it would be appreciated.


Steve Maxwell said...


You'v3 given me a great idea for my next DVD! I'm putting together some upcoming workshops in my mind as I type this. One at Maxercise and one in the SF Bay Area. Let me know if you have any suggestions for venues. If you're interested in a day of private training to experience my spin on these types of pairings email

Steve Maxwell said...

bambam, if by the loop version you mean the regular/original JG, I got it from LifelineUSA. You can purchase from my site as well. - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...


The London/UK tour is coming together for Feb/Mar 2009. Contact and/or

Looking forward to it!

Steve Maxwell said...

My comp kettlebells are 16kg but hollow and can be filled to a potential 32kg or 40 kg, I can't remember which. - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

mich, Thanks for suggesting the latest workshop/DVD subject to my assistant last week in San Jose. You're a catalyst. Here we go! - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

mich, Workouts like this should be added in one at a time. 1 or two or MAX 3 per week. I don't recommend 3 unless you're not doing much else. - Steve

Steve Maxwell said...

Clint, What's wrong with a banana hammock? Give your wife a thrill, it's only fair. Further, if she goes "the thong route" you know what that means for you...-Steve