Runners who are looking to augment their mileage with strength work are beginning to look to metabolic conditioning, which is an interval-based way to strength train. Hollis Tuttle, senior coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, recommends the following metabolic conditioning workouts for runners.
Using a kettlebell or dumbbell, work at a max-effort intensity level (roughly 85% of your maximum effort) during each set and be sure to complete a 10–20-minute warmup and cooldown. Mike Young, PhD, director of performance and research and lead researcher for Athletic Lab, compares the intensity level of a MetCon to something like a hard interval run workout or a run done at race pace.
You’ll need two medium-sized dumbbells or kettlebells. Complete each exercise for 45 seconds and move directly from one exercise to the next without stopping. Rest for 45 seconds at the bottom of the set. Perform 4 total rounds.
The move: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a kettlebell on the floor about a foot in front of you. Grip the handle of the kettlebell with both hands and hike it back and up between your legs. Once the kettlebell can’t go any farther, forcefully extend your hips to propel the kettlebell upward and forward. Keep your arms straight throughout the movement. When the kettlebell reaches chest-height, pull it back down between your legs. Repeat for the duration of your set.
The move: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold two dumbbells at shoulder-height. Bend slightly at the knees and use the power of your hips to help you push the weights overhead. Lower the weights back down with control and immediately launch into the next rep. Continue for the duration of your set.
ALTERNATING REVERSE LUNGE
The move: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand down by your sides or at shoulder-height in racked position. Step backward with one foot and bend your front knee to lower your hips toward the floor. Return to standing by pushing through your front foot. Repeat with the opposite leg. Continue alternating sides.
The move: Assume a straight-arm plank position on the floor with your hands grasping the handles of a pair of dumbbells. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Without shifting your hips, row one weight up toward your rib cage. Lower the weight back down to the floor and row the other toward your rib cage. Continue alternating for the duration of your set.
Repeat circuit 3 more times.
You’ll need one heavy weight. Complete each exercise for 30 seconds and move directly from one exercise to the next without stopping. Rest for 30 seconds at the bottom of the set. Perform 5 total rounds.
STEP-UP WITH KNEE DRIVE
The move: Stand tall in front of a bench or sturdy chair. Hold the weight at shoulder-height in racked position with your right arm. Plant your right foot on the bench or chair, lean forward slightly and press to step up. As your working leg straightens, drive the opposite knee toward your chest without rounding your back. Then, lower your foot back down to the floor and repeat for time. Then switch legs.
The move: Stand tall while holding a weight in your right hand down by your side. Step your left foot a few feet in front of your right and hinge forward at the hips to lower your chest toward the floor. The weight should be hanging under your right shoulder. To initiate the movement, pull the weight toward your rib cage and then lower it back down toward the floor. Repeat for time. Then switch legs.
The move: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Lower into a squat position and place both palms flat on the floor in front of you. Jump or step both legs back and perform a pushup. Then, jump or step both legs forward so you’re back in a squat position. Stand and perform a jump. That’s one repetition. Repeat for time. To make it easier, omit the pushup and/or any jumping movements.