How to Ramp up Your Metabolism – Metabolic Conditioning 101

Have you ever suffered an injury because of bad advice?

It’s not your fault. There is so much misinformation out there on the internet that is dangerous. There’s no way around it.

It concerns me to read advice – albeit from genuinely well meaning people – that I know, because I’ve seen it firsthand in the bodies of my clients, will only end up as pain and injury in the lives of those who go out and implement the techniques.

Right now I am working with a few clients who are just getting back in motion after long seasons of rest (aka: little or no exercise) due to pain and injury. Injuries are no joke. I have experienced them personally and see them in the lives of all my new clients and it is devastating.

There is hope.

A couple of my clients have have recently gotten past the Healing phase of TAO Fit.  They’re moving again.  But the goals we’re setting at this stage are very specific:

  • reduce chronic pain,
  • reduce incidences of chronic injury,
  • improve overall health and fitness,
  • lose body fat, and…
  • get them into the best shape of their lives.

The last 4-6 weeks have been primarily focused on Healing.  It is the the first phase of the TAO Fit training program.  The Healing season specifically deals with nutrition (with nutritional counselor Carly Pollack Nutritional Wisdom), improving joint mobility and stability, and getting to the point where one can perform functional movement patterns without pain.

It is a really difficult season because the amount of exercise prescribed is extremely restricted.  More focus is put on deep tissue massage, self massage using a foam roller, corrective exercises, and light walking.  Remember: the primary goal of this phase is to reduce pain and recover from injury. It tends to feel excruciating and frustrating for my clients because they have a strong desire to exercise, the very reason they come to see me in the first place, and I purposely hold them back.

Phase 1 is about patience.  Move too fast too soon and it’s back to injury.  Most bad advice recommends doing too much too soon.  Lifelong health is about patience.

Click to tweet – “Lifelong health is about patience.”

The great thing is that Healing, in the grand scheme of things, is a short phase.  Soon enough it is time to move to phase two.

Phase 2 – Rebuild and Restore
With an adequate amount of Healing under our belts, it is time to kick things up a notch.  We kick into a higher gear with metabolic conditioning.

Your metabolism and your conditioning have a direct relationship with one another.

The more efficient and active your metabolism, the better your condition.  The more active with varying degrees of intensity your conditioning, the better your metabolism.

The inverse is true as well.  Terrible metabolism hampers your conditioning, while a lack of conditioning strangles your metabolism.

Metabolism is the mechanism your body uses to convert food into energy. Your metabolic rate (the energy you expend at rest and during exercise) can be an invaluable tool to help you gauge and best reach your overall health and fitness goals.

I often describe the body as an engine.  Regular exercise is great for your metabolism.  Even better if you exercise at every degree of intensity (low, medium, and high).  If you take it up another notch, and allow yourself adequate rest and recovery, and you eat high quality fuel, you will have a high efficiency engine that will burn a ton of energy (calories). This is the optimal place to be: great health, physically fit and conditioned, pain free, and ready to take on life’s challenges.

The flip side to this is: if you are physically inactive for a large period of time due to lifestyle choice or injury, your engine will drag, lag, and run inefficiently.  It won’t burn high amounts of energy. In that state, if you consume high calorie, low quality fuel, you will gain weight, have low energy, feel unproductive, and feel burdened by the daily challenges of living. If your goal is to embody the healthiest, fittest You… Then this is your time for change!

Metabolic Conditioning
Metabolic conditioning is a training program focused around improving the way your engine runs. It is designed to boost your metabolism.  We want to make your engine work more efficiently, burn more calories, run smoother, provide you with greater energy, increase your productivity, improve your health, and lengthen your lifespan.  Ultimately the goal is to allow you to lead a fulfilling and satisfying life. A well rounded training program with an emphasis on metabolic conditioning will improve cardiac capacity and function, increase your strength and muscle mass, and decrease fat.

All forms of exercise are metabolic. One form of metabolic conditioning is High Intensity Training. It is basically interval or circuit training. The goal is to get your heart rate up into the higher training zones. You will feel out of breath and you will feel your heart pounding a bit. These workouts are much shorter in duration. Generally lasting from 10-30 minutes (this does not including dynamic warm up or cool down).

The goal of this intro into high intensity metabolic training program is to “prime the pump” of your engine. Your body has been burning energy at a low, regular, and sustained rate for a long time. We want to get it engaged; fan the flames; turn the coals red; so that you can ignite the fire.

The great thing about high intensity metabolic training is that it can be added into just about any sport or activity that you love such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, strength training, rowing, etc. However, it is important, before you do any high intensity workouts, that you have a strong core, functional pain free range of motion, and great form.

Intro to High Intensity Training Program
This program is written specifically for my clients who have gone through, at minimum, four weeks of a healing phase, including: nutritional counseling (with nutritional counselor Carly Pollack of Nutritional Wisdom), deep tissue massage, foam roller therapy, corrective exercise, a regular pain free walking routine, and have solid functional movement.

If you experience pain with walking, squatting, lunging, or any other functional movement pattern, I do not recommend doing any higher intensity metabolic training until you have addressed these issues.

The Program
All workouts begin with a dynamic warm up. A good dynamic warm up is the most important phase of any workout. It prepares the body for your workout by increasing heart rate, body temperature, and joint mobility; while significantly preventing injury.  The dynamic warm up should last between 10-20 minutes and will feel like a workout in and of itself. I highly recommend doing the majority of these workouts completely barefoot.

Here are some great examples of dynamic warmup exercises by my buddy Doug Balzarini of out in San Diego, Ca.

Weekly workout schedule
Day 1: 45-60 min brisk walk
Day 2: 30 min easy recovery walk
Day 3: hill workout*
Day 4: 60 min functional training, 45-60 min brisk walk
Day 5: 30 min easy recovery walk
Day 6: day off, you can foam roll and stretch
Day 7: 60 min functional training, hill workout*

*Hill or stairs workouts:
Find a nice big hill or several flights of stairs. They need to be long enough that it takes 2 minutes to climb them at your fastest pace.

Work = Walk uphill fast, pretty much as fast as you can, pumping your arms. You want to get your heart rate up high.

[Note: The body isn’t ready to run at this stage.  Learn to love the power of a good, strong walk.  Never underestimate the value of walking. In later phases, as your body grows stronger and more capable of supporting itself through corrective and functional exercise, we will integrate running into the program.]

Rest = Walk as slow as you can walk while still moving.

If I give you a range of time or sets, then feel into your body and go with the time that feels best.

Pace yourself. You want to go fairly hard on each set, but I want you to go strongest on the last sets. Basically, don’t blow yourself up on the first couple of sets.


Week 1-3

hill day 1: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 45 sec / Rest 60-90 sec.] x10 sets

hill day 2: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 45 sec / rest 60-90 sec.] x12 sets


Week 4-6

hill day 1: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 60 sec / rest 90 sec.] x10 sets

hill day 2: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then:[Work 60 sec / rest 90 sec.] x12 sets

Week 7-9

hill day 1: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 75 sec / rest 90-120 sec.] x8 sets

hill day 2: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 75 sec / rest 90-120 sec.] x10 sets

Week 10-12

hill day 1: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 90 sec / rest 120 sec.] x6 sets

hill day 2: Begin w/dynamic warm up. Then: [Work 90 sec / rest 120 sec.] x8 sets

Alternate Option: If the longest hill or flight of stairs you can find are too short and you find yourself getting to the top before your time is up, add body weight squats or lunges at the top until your time is up (as many as you can).

After a few weeks, this is how you will feel.

3 Replies to “How to Ramp up Your Metabolism – Metabolic Conditioning 101”

    1. Thanks Terry.

      I feels great to get positive feedback, especially from a colleague. Love your website and the integration of mind, body, and spirit. If I’m ever in Corpus Christi, I will make a point to stop by and say hi.

      Jesse James Retherford

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