Metabolic Workouts: Burn Fat, Build Muscle and Get into Combat Shape

A Marine does a kettlebell swing as part of HITT training.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Danny Vega, a maintenance chief with 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, does a kettlebell swing during the High Intensity Tactical Training Warrior Athlete Readiness and Resilience Challenge at Paige Field House on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 27, 2021. (Cpl. Andrew Cortez/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Why you should move away from isolation, body building-type workouts and incorporate metabolic workouts using compound movements.

As a soldier, your goal physically is to be in the best shape of your life. This includes improving your cardio, strength, endurance, explosiveness, mobility, agility and power while burning fat and staying lean and fit.

Using metabolic training is one of the best ways to focus on these physical attributes in a single workout, and that makes it effective and efficient.

The short definition of metabolic training is: compound exercises with little rest in between in an effort to maximize caloric burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout.

Unlike traditional weight training routines that exercise isolated muscle groups one at a time, compound exercises target multiple joints and muscles concurrently.

Using isolation exercises will not help you gain muscle quickly, because you can't use the most weight possible with isolation exercises.

In fact, you'll use less weight because it's harder to lift heavier weights when you're isolating your muscles. But that's not all. Isolation exercises do not stimulate the release of growth hormone.

That's why this metabolic high intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit uses compound exercises with resistance to help you build muscle fast.

Research shows that full-body metabolic workouts will produce more growth hormone so you build more muscle.

You've got to work out in a way that boosts your level of human growth hormone (HGH) production naturally -- making the muscle-building process faster and more efficient.  Research shows that the most effective way to increase the production of growth hormone is to use full-body exercises. 

Full-body exercises demand more muscles to be used at the same time. This places significant stress on the body, which responds by producing more HGH. Isolated exercises simply won't recruit enough muscle fibers to stimulate significant HGH.

Also, because this workout will deprive your working muscles of oxygen, it causes what's called metabolic stress. The result is an anabolic effect that leads to faster muscle growth.

Now I'm not saying isolation exercises are not good or don't work to build muscle, because they do. But for the military soldier with limited time to get maximal results, there is a time and place to add these into your training regime, especially if you have weak areas you need to improve.

Metabolic training is another way to tap into the afterburn effect. This relates to what is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

After a metabolic workout, your body's metabolism is very high. Because you are resting at this time, your body is tapping into your fat stores for energy through oxygen. Oxygen burns fat.

Your body takes a lot longer to recover after metabolic workouts; therefore, your body is burning fat for a longer period. Science shows that your body can burn fat up to 36 hours after an HIIT workout (metabolic or Spartan). That's great.

Finally, in a typical metabolic workout, you can train many physical attributes that you need as a military soldier.

I like to combine 10 exercises designed to use strength, endurance, plyometrics, isometrics, muscular endurance, cardio and calisthenics, along with core and abs exercises to get super fit.

You will use your body weight, dumbbells, kettlebells and a whole host of other training equipment that will get you shredded.

I'm not going to lie. These workouts are challenging and not easy, but if you are ready to commit, work hard and be consistent, then I promise that you will get results and eventually reach your fitness goals.

It's time to blast away the unwanted fat, replace it with lean, hard muscle, and get you into the best shape of our life.

Are you ready?

It's time to get it done.

My metabolic military workouts include 10 high-intensity circuits completed in timed intervals.

Each circuit is performed the same way. You complete as many reps as possible of each exercise for the allotted time with rest periods in between. After you complete all 10 exercises in a row, you rest for two minutes and repeat for three full rounds.

In the workout descriptions below, each one is laid out for 15- to 60-second protocols (60 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest).


30 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete three rounds with 90 seconds of rest in between.

Total workout time: 30 minutes


45 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete three rounds with 90 seconds of rest in between.

Total workout time: 36 minutes


60 seconds of work, followed by 15 seconds of rest. Complete three rounds with 90 seconds of rest in between.

Total workout time: 41 minutes

Military Metabolic Workout

Perform each exercise one after the other for 60 seconds of work, followed by a 15-second rest. Rest for two minutes and repeat for three rounds. 

Total time = 41 minutes.

  1. Duo kettlebell swings (two-arm to single-arm swings)
  2. Dumbbell abs floor wipers
  3. Dumbbell step-ups
  4. Hindu push-ups
  5. Power jacks (weighted jumping jacks)
  6. Bent-over dumbbell ground and pound
  7. Mountain climber complex (regular to rotational)
  8. Dumbbell front squats
  9. Abs V-ups
  10. Half push-up burpees

Funk Roberts is a certified metabolic trainer and MMA conditioning coach. He is president and owner of, one of the world's leading resources for strength & conditioning workouts and videos for MMA, martial arts and combat fighters. 

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