After last week’s very lengthy post on movement, we’ll keep this week short and sweet with a guide on how to program metcons and medleys to simultaneously build muscle AND endurance. Enjoy and be sure to post any questions in the comments at the end.
Metcons and medleys elicit unique adaptations that exist somewhere between pure endurance and pure hypertrophy.
This more hybrid outcome, in addition to them being fun, athletic, competitive, and packing a serious punch in a short amount of time, makes them the perfect choice for an aspiring LifeProof Athlete.
Let’s first focus on some rules and then discuss how to put them together.
Rule 1 – Pick dumb movements and exercises
Rule 2 – Pick dumb movements and exercises
Rule 3 – Pick dumb movements and exercises
Rule 4 – Pick things that make sense (i.e., can you keep the gas pedal down?)
Rule 5 – Don’t exceed 35 minutes of total work in any one session
Yep, rules 1 through 3 are the exact same, and I contemplated making it rule 1 through 5. The golden rule when it comes to these types of workouts is to pick dumb movements and exercises. This is not time for fancy or highly complex tasks.
Think caveman mode. What’s the simplest version (least complex) of the movement pattern I can choose? For example, a trap bar deadlift is “simpler” and less complex than a barbell deadlift.
Consider what exercises allow you to be output-oriented and go hard the entire time. That’s the game here.
For exercise selection, you have 6 categories to choose from. Here’s a list to get you started. It’s by no means exclusive:
When it comes time to build these, here are a few basic formulas to get you started:
Formula 1 - Doublets
Cardio/Carry + 1
Pick one cardio or carry, and then one exercise from any of the other categories.
Example: 3 rounds for time of 400-meter run + 12 DB Push Press (55lbs)
Example: 4 rounds for time of 15-yard farmer carry (200 lbs) + 5 strict pull-up
Lower + Upper
Pick one lower and one upper
Example: 10 rounds for time of 10 trap bar deadlifts (315 lbs) + 10 incline bench press (155 lbs)
Formula 2 - Triplets
Cardio/Carry + 2
Pick one cardio or carry and then two exercises from the other categories. Just be sure to mix the categories. For example, don’t pick two exercises from the upper push category.
Example: 10 min AMRAP of 500-meter row + 25 push up + 20 DB walking lunge (30 lbs)
Lower + Upper Push + Upper Pull
Example: 4 rounds for time of 4 deadlifts (405) + 10 bench press (205) + 15 bodyweight horizontal row
Lower + Upper + Cardio
Example: For time 30 bodyweight front squat + 30 bodyweight bench press + 30 calorie assault bike
Formula 3 - Quads
Cardio +Carry + Lower + Upper
Example: 3 rounds for time of 50 calorie ski erg + 20 yard yoke carry (400 lbs) + 20 Dball over the shoulder + 5 strict pull up.
Lower Hinge + Upper Push + Lower Squat + Upper Pull
Example: For time 30 deadlift (365 lbs) + 30 bench press (205 lbs) + 30 front squat (175 lbs) + 30 lat pull down.
Formula 4 - Goal Line
The goal line is a fun way to lay these out. Envision you are on a football field. You have two goal lines, and then 100 yards between them. This style works the same way.
Place a lower on one goal line
Choose a carry, sled push, sled pull, or run for between the goal lines
Place an upper on the second goal line
Example: 15 min AMRAP of 20 KB swing + 20 yard sled push (225) + 20 bent over DB row + 20 yard sled drag (225)
Obviously, your imagination is the only thing holding you back here. Get creative and have fun.
Metcon and Medley Styles
Next up are the different styles you can choose from. Again, by no means a comprehensive list but these are your bread-and-butter go-to:
I’ve found it’s best to treat these metcons and medleys like high conditioning and to follow the same guidelines we’ve already discussed for that.
Since they create a hybrid outcome, feel free to place them on their own day OR use them as a replacement for your accessory work on a lift day.
In addition, I’d cap your TOTAL work time for these around 35 minutes.
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments below, otherwise, thanks so much for dropping by 👇
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More on this when we get to training program design.
What other programs might you suggest in this case?
Thank you so much for this series and the weekly newsletter James! I love your writing and appreciate all you do.
I know you had The Hybrid programs. But, I'm also wondering if you had something that was a slight bit less conditioning (which I love) and something that has more strength/hypertrophy work.
My conditioning is pretty good (since I love that kind of training and am built for it). If there was room to improve, it would be on my strength and speed/power.
Thoughts on a good program?