Blonyx for Metcon

One of the fundamental principles of training methods such as Tabata or CrossFit is that of metabolic conditioning (metcon). In basic terms, metcon is when you vary your training in order to improve the three basic energy pathways that provide energy to muscles during exercise.

Research in exercising adults shows that supplementing with HMB, the principle ingredient in Blonyx products, has beneficial effects not only on strength, but also on the improvement of your body's ability to produce energy from the different energy pathways, most likely via speeding the body's adaptation to metcon training.

Studies on runners and cyclists taking HMB showed that it can significantly increase improvements in the amount of oxygen used for exercising muscles (VO2peak or VO2max), which leads to improvements in running and cycling performance. This is a key part of metcon training.

For detailed information on HMB, click here.

What is Metcon?

Muscles need energy to function and get this energy from different metabolic pathways depending  on how fast that energy is required. In a heavy deadlift or snatch lots of energy is required instantly and comes mainly from the Phospho-Creatine/Phosphagen pathway, which has the capacity to do this but is very limited and inefficient.

In sprints, heavy kettlebell swings or pull-ups, a medium amount of energy is required relatively quickly and it comes from the Glycolytic pathway. The Glycolytic pathway is slower at providing energy, but does it more efficiently (you can go longer) than the Phosphagen pathway.

Neither of these two pathways use oxygen to create energy and are therefore called the "anaerobic" pathways.

In rowing and longer distance running relatively low levels of energy are required at a steady rate. This energy comes from the the "Oxidative" or aerobic pathway - named because of its dependence on oxygen. It is highly efficient and is the reason why you can run at a slower pace for hours at a time, but you also have to breath more to get more oxygen into the body to generate energy.

During a WOD we switch from one system to another all the time because of efficiency. It is much more efficient to make energy using oxygen than it is to make it without (the anaerobic pathways), so after we do deadlifts we immediately get breathless as we start to use oxygen to make energy to replace that lost from using the inefficient Phosphagen pathway. It's more efficient to use the oxygen to "recover" the Phosphagen energy source ready for the next set of deadlifts. 

To become a better athlete you need to train all of these metabolic pathways so that they all function better giving you an increased capacity to train, and this is called metabolic conditioning, or metcon. 

What Happens When We Train For Metcon?

  • Our muscles become better at storing and using Creatine; the main energy store for the phosphagen pathway
  • We store more glycogen (needed for the Glycolytic and Oxidative pathways) in both the liver and the muscles
  • The heart and lungs become more efficient at getting oxygen to the muscles (increases VO2max)
  • More small blood vessels grow in the muscles so that more oxygen can get to them 
  • More fat is stored within the muscles to be used as fuel, especially for the Oxidative pathway
  • Muscle cells become more efficient in making energy from fuel, switching over to more efficient systems 

For an overview of metabolic conditioning view this article from the CrossFit Journal or see this detailed overview.

How HMB improves Metcon Performance

Using HMB for over a month has been shown to significantly improve the amount of oxygen an athlete can use for exercise (VO2max). This means that taking HMB has helped the body adapt to become more efficient in generating energy for training.
It is thought that HMB does this by simply speeding the rate that the body responds and adapts to training. HMB has been shown to increase muscle protein production and reduce protein breakdown theoretically speeding development of the body in response to training.

Read the Research Studies

Below is a list of research studies on athletes taking HMB, showing improvements in indicators of muscle endurance and efficiency.

Research Study: A placebo controlled study in college students. HMB supplementation increased maximum oxygen consumption by 5%. Read the research.

Research Study: A controlled study in trained cyclists. HMB supplementation increased cyclist endurance as measured by VO2 peak and lactic acid build up. Read the research

Research Study: A controlled study in male and female runners. HMB reduced muscle damage after a prolonged run as well as the perception of muscle soreness. Read the research

Research Study: The official position paper of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. HMB was rated in the second highest category of effective supplements for performance enhancement. Read the research.