A Complete Guide To Metabolic Workouts For Women

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Much like any HIIT workout, metabolic workouts that incorporate strength training exercises increase fat oxidation and boost metabolic rate after the workout is over. 

Metabolic workouts provide a long list of benefits in general, but specifically, what are the benefits of metabolic workouts for women? What about the best metabolic workouts for women to add to their training schedule?

In this article, we will discuss what a metabolic workout entails, the benefits of metabolic workouts for women, and step-by-step instructions for some of the best metabolic exercises for women to help you put together a challenging and efficient metabolic workout.

We will cover the following: 

  • What Is a Metabolic Workout for Women?
  • How to Do Metabolic Workouts for Women
  • The 5 Best Metabolic Exercises For Women

Let’s dive in! 

A skater.

What Is a Metabolic Workout for Women?

One important thing to note is that your gender identity, or even your biological sex, does not really influence which exercises you need to be doing in a metabolic workout.

Therefore, the “best metabolic workouts for women” are theoretically no different than the best metabolic workouts for everyone else.

Instead, your fitness level, training goals, and available exercise equipment will help guide your metabolic conditioning workouts both in terms of programming and the best exercises for metabolic workouts.

That said, it is true that there are some unique hormonal differences and differences in metabolism between men and women, so the best metabolic workouts for women can vary somewhat from the metabolic training workouts for men.

Females have a lower level of testosterone than males, which can make building muscle more difficult and generally result in lower overall muscular strength and a lower strength-to-bodyweight ratio.

Moreover, the hormonal balance for women is different than that for men, altering the typical pattern of body fat distribution.

Women often store more body fat in the hips, glutes, and thighs than men, who typically display an abdominal fat distribution (“pear-shaped body” vs. “apple-shaped body”).

A jump squat.

However, depending on your age, genetics, overall body fat percentage, and particular hormonal profile, you may be a woman that stores more body fat in the belly area rather than the hips and thighs, or you might have more of an inverse pyramid-shaped body with a larger bust and more body fat in the upper arms and relatively narrow hips and slender legs.

Depending on your particular body fat distribution and your goals with metabolic conditioning workouts, you may want to make some adjustments to the exercises that you choose.

The important caveat here is that you cannot spot reduce body fat, which is to say that if you have a lot of excess fat in your upper arms, doing lots of push-ups or dips will not help “melt away” flabby arm fat any faster than full body exercises that work other muscle groups.

Overall, the best metabolic workout exercises for women are compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. 

The more muscles that are activated at the same time, the higher your heart rate will go and the more calories you will burn.

For this reason, rather than focusing on isolation exercises like biceps curls, the best metabolic workouts for women include dynamic full-body exercises such as lateral lunges with a simultaneous biceps curl or thrusters, which combine a squat and overhead press into one continuous movement.

Side lunge with bicep curl.

In addition to choosing compound exercises for metabolic conditioning workouts for women, you want to focus on exercises that can be performed quickly and powerfully with a steady but fast rhythm

This will help boost your heart rate to torch more calories and stoke the metabolism even when the workout is over.

For instance, instead of doing a static plank on the floor or slow and controlled bicycle crunches on an exercise mat, the most effective metabolic workouts for women should rely heavily on dynamic, powerful movements like jump squats, burpees, and kettlebell swings.

Think about trying to keep as much of your body in motion as possible the whole time when you perform metabolic training workouts.

Additionally, adding a combination of cardio exercises, plyometrics, and resistance training exercises in a metabolic workout can:

  • Minimize some of the potential drawbacks of the extremely high-intensity nature of HIIT.
  • Decrease mitochondrial stress.
  • Reduce the risk of fatigue.
  • Shorten recovery time between workouts.
  • Offer unique benefits attributable to strengthening exercises.
Ball thruster.

How to Do Metabolic Workouts for Women

Many traditional strength training workouts involve performing a certain number of reps per set. 

Although you can do this when you are performing metabolic training workouts for women on your own (rather than in a group class), it is usually more effective to perform each exercise in your metabolic training routine for a certain amount of time (usually 30-60 seconds).

Then, all you have to do is set a timer and do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of each metabolic conditioning exercise within that allotted time until the timer goes off. Then, you will move right into the next exercise.

The key here is remembering that you still want to prioritize proper form and technique over speed and achieving a higher number of reps. 

If you need to, make sure you slow down a little bit and perform each exercise properly using the full range of motion rather than speed through things and short-change the range of motion or use gravity and momentum to assist you with the exercise.

Thruster.

Finally, the last factor you should consider when trying to program the best metabolic workout for women is the tempo of the workout as a whole.

The goal should be to eliminate all rest as much as possible, seamlessly transitioning from one exercise right to the next without stopping to catch your breath or rest.

Much like circuit training, metabolic training workouts are designed to involve performing one exercise right after the next. You can perform 2 to 3 rounds of all of your metabolic exercises in a cycle.

Eliminating the rest in between sets of each exercise will help keep your heart rate elevated

Therefore, rather than performing one set of burpees and then resting before beginning your second set, move directly from the burpees to the next exercise. 

Once you have finished all of the metabolic exercises in your met-con workout, you will start again from the top and go through the cycle another one or two times, depending on your fitness level, the number of metabolic exercises in your metabolic conditioning workout, and the amount of time you have to train.

The 5 Best Metabolic Exercises For Women

Here are some of the best exercises for women:

#1: Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are a simple bodyweight plyometric exercise to include in metabolic workouts for women.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand up straight, core engaged, chest up, and your arms down at your sides.
  2. Jump your legs apart and out to each side while simultaneously bringing your arms up overhead toward one another.
  3. Smoothly jump everything back to the starting position and repeat.
  4. Move as fast as possible while moving through a full range of motion.

#2: Step-Ups

The weighted step-up is a great lower-body exercise for metabolic workouts for women because it strengthens the glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, and hip flexors while raising your heart rate while still being a low-impact exercise.

This is beneficial for women who want to reduce the risk of high-impact exercises while still reaping the calorie burn and metabolism-boosting nature of metabolic workouts over regular strength training workouts.

Plus, studies suggest that high-intensity resistance training (HIRT)—which is generally the style used in the best metabolic training workouts—causes a more significant increase in resting energy expenditure after the workout than traditional strength training. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand facing a plyometric box holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand with your arms down at your sides.
  2. Keeping your core tight, step up on the box with your right foot and then follow with the left.
  3. Step back down backward with your right foot first and then your left foot.
  4. Continue leading with the right foot for all of your reps, and then switch sides.

#3: Lateral Bounds

Many metabolic workouts include exercises that occur in the forward or backward direction, but it is also important to include lateral training moves.

Lateral training moves involve moving in the frontal plane for side-to-side motion (abduction and adduction). 

This helps strengthen your hips, ankles, and core muscles in a different direction than we tend to rely on in training, which can potentially help prevent muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injuries. 

Adding this metabolic training exercise to your metabolic workouts also helps improve the coordination between your legs and torso. As such, this can help improve your deadlift performance as well as your overall movement mechanics during full-body exercises.

Here are the steps for how to perform this lower-body plyometric exercise:

  1. Stand upright with good posture, arms at your side, chest up, shoulders down, core engaged, and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean to the right side of your body, loading your right leg and bending your right knee slightly.
  3. As quickly as possible, press into that right leg to shoot the left leg out to the left side of your body, bounding out to the left as far as you can.
  4. Bend the left knee as you land to cushion your landing.
  5. Reverse the movement to perform a lateral plyometric jump to the right.
  6. Keep jumping side to side, aiming to increase the distance for each jump as your fitness and mobility permit.

#4: 360-Degree Squat Jumps

One of the best metabolic workout exercises for women is the 360-degree squat jump because this move combines strength, cardio, agility, and power.

In order to boost the metabolic demand of the exercise, keep moving from one rep to the next without stopping.

Here are the steps:

  1. Perform a jump squat, but when you are up in the air, make a full 360° spin before landing.
  2. Use your arms to help propel you up and through the rotations by powerfully thrusting your arms into the direction of the desired turn.
  3. Do 30 seconds per direction.
  4. Beginners can start with a half turn.

#5: Jump Squats

Jump squats, also referred to as squat thrusts, are a great exercise to include in metabolic workouts for women because the move strengthens all the major leg muscles, including the glutes, quads, adductors, calves, and hamstrings, while raising your heart rate.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand with good posture, core engaged, back straight, chest up, and your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Lower your body into a squat by bending your knees and sitting your hips back.
  3. When your thighs are parallel to the ground, jump up straight as high as you can, thrusting your arms up towards the ceiling.
  4. As soon as you land, bend your knees to cushion the landing, and allow your arms to swing back behind your body as you transition immediately down into a full squat to begin again.

The key to safe and effective metabolic workouts for women is to build up slowly.

The number of sets, reps, and actual metabolic exercises you should include in your metabolic workouts will depend on your fitness level, the other types of training that you do, and the particular exercise you select for your metabolic workouts.

You can start with just a handful of metabolic exercises and do more rounds of each rather than doing a huge circuit with 12 or more moves in your metabolic workout. Try each exercise for 30 seconds at first before quickly moving right into the next one.

Build up to 60 seconds or more.

If you find that you love metabolic conditioning workouts, you might enjoy CrossFit workouts. Check out our guide to the best CrossFit exercises for beginners here.

A Complete Guide To Metabolic Workouts For Women 1
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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