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10-Minute Metabolic Conditioning Circuit For Burning Fat

By Marc Perry / February 20, 2016

Here’s a metabolic conditioning (aka interval training) circuit you can add to your workouts to help raise your metabolism, or do as a quick workout if you are pressed for time.

I have two metabolic conditioning circuits in this post depending on your fitness level. I do the advanced circuit all the time at the end of my workout as an alternative to traditional cardio such as going for a jog. Completing a metabolic circuit at the end of a workout is sometimes referred to as a “finisher” and can significantly improve your cardiovascular health.

You may be thinking- how is it possible to replace aerobic activity with a metabolic circuit? While it was once believed that only aerobic conditioning (i.e. going for a long jog) served to increase cardiovascular health, studies have now shown that anaerobic conditioning (sprinting, or lifting weights intensely) may also condition the heart to a same, if not higher level as aerobic training. A study by Dr. Izumi Tabata showed that athletes completing intense anaerobic cycling for 4-minutes 3x per week experienced better V02 max improvement than the control group, which followed a 60 minute moderate intensity regimen 3x per week.1

Aside from metabolic conditioning being extremely effective at improving cardiovascular health, burning fat, and raising your metabolism, a few cycles of a metabolic circuit can literally take 5 minutes. That’s my kind of exercise! You won’t believe the lung burn you get despite metabolic conditioning being an anaerobic activity.

NOTE: Metabolic conditioning is not appropriate for beginners, or people who have not worked out in a long time.

Training Instructions

• Complete each exercise back to back with no rest between exercises

• Rest 2 minutes between each circuit, which is comprised of 3 exercises

• Complete 3 rounds of either the intermediate, or advanced circuit below at the end of your workout, or as a quick standalone workout consider 4 or 5 rounds

Advanced Circuit

By the 3rd cycle, you should have a pretty serious lung burn. If not, rest less between sets, or increase the number of reps.

1. Weighted Burpee (10 Reps)

I hold 20-25lb dumbbells in my hands as I do a burpee with a push up. The first set is usually not too difficult, but weighted burpees get really hard by the 3rd round, especially if you are doing this circuit at the end of your workout.

2. Mountain Climbers (30 reps)

Going from burpees to mountain climbers is a smooth transition. There are two primary ways to do mountain climbers, either touching the front foot to the ground as I’m doing it in the video, or keeping your front foot off the ground while simply running in place. It’s up to you what feels better.

3. Jump Rope Double Unders (20 reps)

Consecutive double unders are pretty tough, which means you are spinning the jump rope twice around for every one jump. You may consider doing a double under once every 5 revolutions, or even 10, or not at all. Whatever works for you.

Intermediate Circuit

To make the preceding circuit less challenging, I modified the exercises to make them easier.

1. Burpee Without Push Up (10 reps)

Instead of using weight and completing a push up, you can do burpees with no weight and no push up. To make the burpee harder, you can also add a jump at the top.

2. High Knees Against Wall (30 reps)

High knees against the wall, which is basically like you are running against a wall and trying to push it down. This is similar to the mountain climber exercise except you are upright, which is easier on your arms/shoulders.

3. Jumping Jacks (30 reps)

Jumping jacks are pretty basic, but one of my favorite exercise for a total body warm up, and in this case, a cardio burnout. By the 3rd round of the circuit, the jumping jacks will not be that easy!

If you give one of these metabolic conditioning circuits a try, let me know what you think!

Show 1 References

  1. Tabata I, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996;28(10):1327-30.


  • Stefanie says:

    Hey Marc! Thanks for the great videos. I wanted to ask if it is possible for a female to build up the glutes? I do weighted squats and deadlifts. What's your take on that? Can it be done with heavier weights? If so, how heavy and what should the reps be? Thanks.

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Stefanie - I think it is definitely possible to build up the glutes. Like any other muscle, it's possible to get them bigger.

      I think squats are a great exercise to target the glutes. You may consider trying a sumo squat, which means your toes are pointed out a bit, and your feet are wider shoulder width apart. The basic squat also works very well for glute development, just make sure to get your hamstrings parallel with the floor. It's better to get depth in your squat than use too much weight. When you go deep, you get much more glute activation, as opposed to primarily quad activation. I think over time if you can build up to doing around 135lb for 10+ reps, I imagine you will be very happy. Takes time though.

      Deadlifts I think are a great exercise, they are just a bit dangerous for the lower back. You should be careful with them. The weight really depends on you.

      I would highly recommend adding walking lunges with weight into your leg routine. You can hold a barbell on your back, or hold dumbbells at your sides. They worked very well for me. So I do 3-4 sets of squats 10-15 reps (heavy), 3 sets of walking lunges with weights 30 feet (heavy). That's just an example leg focused workout that will bring out your glutes. Only should take 20-30 minutes.

      Finally you need to eat enough protein and calories to help your muscles grow.

      Hope this is helpful!

  • Scott says:

    Marc: GREAT video. I am going to try tonight!

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Scott - Thanks for the kudos.

  • cyberbob says:

    I was really looking for this type of stuff ,i also want to put of some wait from my body

  • TroyP says:


    I love metabolic circuits. I like your videos showing two variations. The burpees with weights - I've been doing a version like it with kettlebells. They can be brutal in a met-con circuit.

    • Marc Perry says:

      @TroyP - Thanks for the comment. I do agree the burpees with weight get really heavy and exhausting fast. The first set is usually not too bad, but the second and third are brutal! It's a great way to get that metabolic effect in a very short period of time.

  • Curt Bizelli says:

    Hey Buddy, I've been doing this stuff and it really works. I'm panting after ONE go around (2-3 exercises). Of course I'm a smoker too, but I learned these type of exercises from a guy on youtube named Mike (sixpackshortcuts). He teaches this same stuff. I subbed your list. Be in touch, God bless, CBiz

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Curt - Thanks for your comment. I have come across Mike before and he has some solid workouts.

  • Dmytro says:

    The circuit is just great. It really makes me speechless. Tried it as a warm-up and also in the of the workout. It also makes the work more interesting. Would be grateful if you posted any other similar circuits or advised were to look them up. Thanks again and looking forward to your reply!

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Dmytro - Thanks for the comment. I like using this circuit as well to help get a good lung and leg muscle burn. I do plan on adding a bunch of different metabolic circuits in the future. For a very good website on bodyweight metabolic circuits, check out http://www.bodyrock.tv. It's a little more sexually explicit then it has to be and the focus is on women, but there some solid workouts on there.

  • SaphireChic says:

    What is the fastest way to burn fat and what diet will be suitable to go with it?

    • Marc Perry says:

      @SaphireChic - It sounds like you want an aggressive fat loss plan. I don't like them because they are not sustainable and 95% of the time people gain the weight back within 6 months. With that said, I do want to answer your question. I think a combination of strength training 3x per week, with ample amounts of cardio (cross training + interval training) combined with a low carbohydrate diet will maximize fat loss in a short period of time, but again, it may be difficult to sustain so I don't support it. For more info on how to lose fat without losing muscle, definitely check out my Get Lean Guide

  • SaphireChic says:

    wow! my heart skipped a beat when i saw ur reply :P...Im a type 1 diabetic...i dint have carbs fr a day and felt crazy...i read ur articles...it seems like i do well on more carbs,like you....because otherwise I wont have strength to do intense intervals on the treadmill,....my major problem is i think I cut too much food out of my diet,thats why Im not losing body fat...its really frustrating :(
    I already do lots of cardio and strength training.Infact ive the propensity to overexercise :P

    • Marc Perry says:

      @SaphireChic - I think all the exercise is great, especially strength training which can help increase insulin sensativity (helps your muscles suck more glucose out of the bloodstream). I do think you should reevaluate your stance on carbs, especially given you are diabetic. Excess insulin is the arch nemesis of fat loss because it creates an anabolic and fat storing environment. I think taking down carb intake definitely works very well to aid in fat loss, the challenge is that it's difficult to sustain. With that said, I think there are ways to cut back on carbs, without being too extreme. For example, you can keep your carb intake under 100g, which is sufficient for energy, but low enough to help spark some fat metabolism. Another idea is carb cycling, where a couple days a week you eat a normal amount of carbs, and on the other days you eat relatively lower carbs. Cutting out most "starchy" (bread, potatoes, pasta, pastries etc.) and almost all sugars except fruit (berries are ideal) is an easy way to get a lot of nutrients without increasing carb intake. If you haven't checked it out yet, read this article in case you are unsure if you are eating enough calories How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?. Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise/nutrition regimen and hope this was helpful!

  • brian says:

    holy crap! i tried the intermediate this morning, by the second set i was breathing hard and by the last set i had to count out loud so that i won't lose count because of fatigue. it was hard but i liked it! will be adding it after my workouts. also used dumbbell circuit (although i only used 3 exercises). your free newsletters and articles here cut my gym time in half and i have been learning more about working out efficiently thanks to you!

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @Brian - Awesome! Very psyched to hear that!

  • Dean says:

    Hi Marc.

    Been crazy on reading up on everything you have.

    Coming from a x-country skiing backround at the national level, I am used to huge hours a week. But been a few years (10+) and I have been yo yoing with becoming a decent runner (10k in about 35 min).

    My short term goal is to lose some fat, long term is to be lean and get my 10k down. All this while maintaining some muscle mass (as skiers are not bean poles).

    So my question simply is with 3x strength circuits per week, plus metabolic conditioning after strength, light long cardio on the days inbetween. Can I add HIIT to those off strength days? I always take one day a week to just fully recover (active walking or hiking).

    Thanks very much.


    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      Hey Dean, thanks for the comment and it sounds like you are an impressive athlete! I've worked with endurance athletes like yourself and the conversation is usually the same - choose lose fat OR performance, not both at the same time. If you focus on losing fat, you don't have to exercise as much, just take your calories down. For a span of time you performance may drop a bit, and that's ok. The good thing is that once you are leaner and you take your calories back up, you will perform better no doubt. Check out this article - How Body Fat Affects Athletic Performance. So to be clear, you can do minimal exercise and still lose fat, but I think your exercise plan is sensible and similar to what we recommend in our workout programs.