The Principles Behind the 20-Minute Metcon Program
All-Out 20-Minute Metcon, the first workout program from Men’s Health Next Top Trainer champ Jah Washington, is designed to help you burn calories, build muscle, and improve your endurance anytime, anywhere, in just 20 minutes a day, with absolutely no equipment. It’s available on the All Out Studio app.
You’ve never needed a gym full of equipment to blast fat and build muscle.
It’s a lesson that nearly everyone learned in 2020, when many gyms were shuttered due to Covid-19 lockdowns. And right now, we can take advantage of that lesson, heading outside to enjoy the weather while still crushing calories and building strength. The key element in making this work: Your bodyweight.
Your body is the only thing you’ll need for 20-Minute Metcon, the new workout video program by Next Top Trainer winner Jah Washington. Washington delivers five 20-minute bodyweight sessions that help you push your limits anytime, anywhere. Washington keeps the workouts exciting too, delivering so much creativity that you just may like them better than your standard group fitness sweat.
And sure, you may be thinking that a bodyweight workout is a recipe for boredom, all pushups and sit-ups and squats. Not so, says Washington.
“I’ll show you how to load different bodyweight movements using supersets and time under tension,” he says, “to make a huge difference in your fitness.”
You’ll feel the difference (and have fun too!) when you start integrating Washington’s principles into your training. Try these ideas from 20-Minute Metcon to spice up all your training sessions, whether you’re at the beach, in the driveway, or in the gym too.
The problem with your average strength training gym workout: The only walk you take is to the water fountain between sets. That, however, won’t happen during Washington’s program.
“Your body is meant to move,” says MH fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “Too many workouts have you standing still, but you shouldn’t be limited to that.”
Washington makes sure you’re not by pushing you out of your stationary box. You’ll do bear crawls across your floor, or you might shuffle laterally for a few seconds. No matter the situation, expect your body to feel different.
Sure, you’ve done high-knees and jumping jacks in place before, but sprinting a few steps forward then shuffling back, as you do in Washington’s program, challenges your body in different ways. Your legs must suddenly absorb multi-directional forces, challenging new muscles.
“I want you to be more mobile and develop better habits and more body awareness,” Washington says.
Try it with Washington’s V-run: Start in athletic stance, then sprint forward and to the left three steps. Stop and return to the start. Sprint forward and to the right three steps. Repeat this for 30 seconds; do three sets. Your legs and lungs will feel it.
Nearly every exercise you do, from bench presses to pushups to lunges, has you moving in exactly one direction: Forward. Gym junkies call this moving in the sagittal plane, and yes, it can help you build strength.
Limiting your movement also leaves you unprepared for the challenges of real life, whether that means sidestepping somebody running past you on the sidewalk, chasing your son, or lifting a box from an odd angle. “Life just doesn’t work that way,” says Washington.
Life occurs in multiple directions, and so does Washington’s program. Nearly every workout in his program has a so-called “multi-planar” exercise, something that has you moving laterally, or rotating your torso one way and your hips another.
One of Washington’s favorite moves is the pushup to T-rotation, a deceptively tough pushup variation that’ll carve your abs and build shoulder stability. Start in pushup position, core and glutes tight, hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Lower your torso, then press up. As you press up, lift your right hand and reach it to the ceiling, rotating your body into a side plank. Return to pushup position and repeat on the other side. Do three sets of 10 to 12 total reps.
Yes, bodyweight exercises can get boring, and they might seem easy—at first. Apply a little time under tension to them, though, and things change. Washington frequently turns this into an art form, as you change speeds on everything from lunges to pushups. “I like to do a nice blend,” says Washington. “That way, it stays fresh, and you figure out different ways to train yourself.”
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Changing speeds challenges your muscles in different ways. Slow a rep down to a snail’s pace, taking, say, three to five seconds to lower into the bottom of a squat, and you challenge your body to build eccentric strength and overall body control.
You can also do squat reps at light speed, lowering quickly and leaping explosively, to build athleticism and power. Doing quick reps is actually one of the best ways to challenge yourself while using only bodyweight. Try doing 10 squats as quickly as possible, working to intentionally drive up powerfully on every single rep. Yes, it’ll be harder than you think.
You’ll drive a lot more muscle and strength gains than you think, too, just like the rest of Washington’s 20-Minute Metcon program.
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