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5 Tips on Creating Short Metabolic Training Sessions

5 Tips on Creating Short Metabolic Training Sessions

By Neghar Fonooni

There are several ways to accomplish effective metabolic workouts in a limited amount of time, from circuits to complexes to density sessions. You can even set a timer for 30 minutes, and just aim to accomplish as much work as possible within that timeframe. However, there are a few things I’d like you to keep in mind to ensure safety, efficiency, and effectiveness.


1. Include all the movement patterns

In order to truly benefit from short metabolic training sessions, you’ll want to ensure that your clients are hitting all the movement patterns. The easiest way to do this is to pick 5 exercises: a push, a pull, a hinge, a squat, and a dynamic full-body movement. Arrange them so that the client goes back and forth between upper body and lower body movements, and ends the circuit with a dynamic movement. So, an example of a circuit would be:

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2. Pick exercises the client can perform well

The only way for a short metabolic circuit to be truly effective is for the client to be able to perform the exercises with some level of mastery. You don’t want to include an exercise in a metabolic circuit that a client hasn’t practiced, as they will have difficulty performing the circuit with any level of intensity. This means that metabolic workouts are not the time to introduce new movements that your client isn’t already familiar with.

Make sure your client is well versed in all of the exercises you choose so that they can easily go from one exercise to the next, and can really work as hard as possible in a short period of time.


3. Favor movements that can be easily replaced

Because the circuits are performed so quickly, you don’t want to end up in a situation where you have to wait for a piece of equipment. Let’s say you’re using a bench for dumbbell bench presses, and you move on to the next exercise in the circuit. Upon return to the bench press, your bench is being used, but you don’t have time to wait to work in, because the rest periods are so short. Solution: switch to floor presses or push-ups.

Plus, you want to be able to adjust on the fly if the client has difficulty performing any of the movements. Let’s say you’re doing kettlebell swings and your client suddenly complains of back pain, perhaps due to fatigue. Solution: switch to kettlebell deadlifts or even a squat jump. Basically, make sure that all of the exercises you choose can be easily replaced or substituted.

4. Enforce short rest periods

There are two major factors that play into the value and effectiveness of metabolic workouts: high intensity effort combined with very little rest. The moment you start stretching rest periods into 1-2 minutes, you begin to miss out on what truly makes these workouts beneficial. Remember, the workouts are shorter than traditional sessions but only because you’re expected to work twice as hard in order to take advantage of time.

I will typically suggest 15-20 seconds of rest in between exercises, and 60-90 seconds in between rounds of circuits. You can even opt to do a complex, which results in zero rest between exercises, and allows you to make absurdly efficient use of time. In order to enforce rest periods, you’ll need to either keep a very close eye on your watch or use an interval timer-you don’t want your client getting too comfortable in between movements. You’ve got to be strict and keep them on point throughout the workout.

If your client is truly having a hard time taking short rest periods, it’s possible that the exercises themselves or the load used is too difficult.

5. Design the circuit based on proximity of equipment

The only way to make a fast session work is to have a well-designed and thoughtful set-up. If you have to walk across the gym or into a different room in the middle of a circuit, it will impeded the necessary short rest periods and impact the general flow of the circuit.

You’ll want to design your circuit in a way that allows you to stay in the same general area for the duration of the circuit. So, for example, if the battling ropes aren’t anywhere near the squat rack, you wouldn’t want to put a barbell squat and a battling rope into the same circuit. This is why circuits work especially well with kettlebells, as you can transport them and use them for a variety of exercises.


When putting together metabolic circuits for your clients, keep the layout of your gym in mind in order to account for proximity of equipment and ease of transition.


By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to design incredibly effective metabolic training sessions. By simply convincing clients of the benefit of shorter sessions (thereby increasing your client load capability) you’ll be able to help more people in the long run. You’ll have the opportunity to work with more clients, and perhaps even help people who would not have otherwise been able to commit to training.
Remember, the more people whose lives you touch through fitness, the greater an impact you can have on the lives of others as well as the industry. And after all, isn’t that what training clients is all about?


One of the best ways to learn how to program is to study from the best. I’ve recommended Neghar’s Lean and Lovely Program to male and female trainers before for two reason:

1. For females, it’s a fantastic program

2. For males and females, it’s a fantastic way to learn programming for females (males will benefit from the metabolic circuits as well).

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About Neghar

Fitness & lifestyle coach, writer, veteran, and mom, Neghar Fonooni is passionate about empowering women through strength.

A Los Angeles native with 14 years experience in the fitness industry, Neghar believes that a positive mindset is the most important aspect of a fit lifestyle. Through this website and her social media platforms, she teaches women how to embrace their bodies and enrich their lives with food and exercise. Neghar is a contributing blogger to several sites, including My Fitness Pal and Schwarzanegger.com, and is the author of the 12-week total transformation system, Lean & Lovely.


For more info on Neghar and her training that centers around overall fitness for mind and body with butt kicking Bodyweight and Kettlebell workouts, See more at: http://georgettepann.com/KBLL 

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