Spend this past weekend BBQ hopping and now you need to buckle back down before the buckle snaps?

Instead of spending the next week pulling belt buckle shrapnel out of your gut, get rid of it with these metabolic combos.

The goal of these metabolic pairings is to drastically jack up fat use for fuel by increasing energy expenditure and stimulating the release of free-fatty acids. These fatty acids are shuttled into the bloodstream thanks to an elevation in growth hormone brought on by an increase in lactate production (which acidifies the whole body).

The best way to create this ideal internal environment is by using a combo of one weighted, relatively heavy exercise, and one high-speed, lower load movement (an abdominal drill is also added to the mix in the more advanced versions).

The Engine Principles

With these metabolic pairings, there are two key points to respect called "the engine principles."

Engine Principle #1: The bigger the engine, the more fuel you burn.

In other words, you want to simultaneously involve as much muscle mass as possible, both in the strength and speed exercises.

Engine Principle #2: The faster you go, the more fuel the engine uses.

When doing this type of training, you should emphasize speed of movement and avoid any pauses during the execution of each drill. For example, once a repetition is completed, you immediately start the next one.

Metabolic Pairings

It's time to get down to it with some of my favorite combos.

Combo 1A: Clean-Grip Power Pull and Burpees (Level I)

The clean-grip power pull offers many of the benefits of the Olympic lifts since it's basically the pulling part of these movements. But to make it effective, you must really use a powerful thrust of both your arms and legs (ahem, engine principle).

To do so, lower the bar like in a Romanian deadlift and then explode upward, bringing the bar to your sternum (much like an upright row) using a full lower body extension (ankles, knees, and hips) and upper body pull (arms, lower back, and traps).

Since this movement is less technical than the full Olympic lifts, you can, and should do more reps, whereas you should stick to no more than six for the Olympic lifts.

A1) Clean-grip power pull
8 to 10 reps
No rest

A2) Burpees
12 to 15 reps
Rest 75 seconds

For this combo and all of the ones to follow, you can add an abdominal exercise after A2. In that case, you wouldn't rest between A2 and A3 (abdominal movement). You'd rest after the abdominal exercise.

Combo 1B: Thrusters and Burpees (Level II)

To make the thrusters even more effective for metabolic purposes, start each repetition by "power curling" the dumbbells to your shoulders. Thus, each repetition starts with your arms extended alongside your body, and you then:

1. Curl them up to the shoulders (hammer curl style)
2. Squat down
3. Stand up from the squat
4. Press the dumbbells overhead
5. Return to the starting position

A1) Thrusters
10 to 12 reps
No rest

A2) Burpees
12 to 15 reps
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 1C: Power Clean from Hang/Push Press and Burpees (Level III)

This is the most advanced version of the combo, and arguably the most effective in terms of body transformations. However, you should be somewhat efficient in the Olympic lifts before even attempting this.

Being the beast that it is, the power clean from the hang and push press movement involves the largest amount of muscle. Furthermore, it's explosive by nature, so according to the engine principles it's the most powerful body composition tool among the strength exercises.

As with other Olympic lifts, no more than six reps should be performed to avoid technical breakdown and injuries.

A1) Power clean from the hang and push press
4 to 6 reps
No rest

A2) Burpees
15 to 20 reps
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 2A: Bulgarian Squat and Shuffle Running (Level I)

Shuffle running is pretty simple: Imagine running in place, but taking extra long steps and jumping in the air slightly. The goal here is long steps and speed of movement. You switch legs in the air, but you aren't actually moving. Just move your legs as fast as you can without moving forward or backwards.

A1) Bulgarian squat
8 to 10 reps per leg
No rest

A2) Shuffle running
Max reps in 45 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 2B: Stationary Lunge and Shuffle Running (Level II)

For the stationary lunges, start standing up with both legs together. Take a long step forward with the target leg and drop down into a lunge position, and then push yourself back up to the starting position. Alternate legs on each rep.

A1) Stationary lunge
8 to 10 reps per leg (alternate)
No rest

A2) Shuffle running
Max reps in 45 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 2C: Walking Lunge and Shuffle Running (Level III)

In a walking lunge, you aren't pushing yourself back up from a lunge position, but rather moving forward by pushing yourself with the front leg and bringing the back leg in front, into a lunge position.

A1) Walking lunge
10 to 12 reps per leg (alternate)
No rest

A2) Shuffle running
Max reps in 60 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 3A: Snatch-Grip Deadlift and Three-Way Dumbbell Swing (Level I)

For the three-way dumbbell swing, there's no rest between each part of the set. So, you perform the required number of reps (15 for example) with the left arm, then immediately move on to the right arm, and then finally to both arms.

Since you're using the same dumbbell for all three portions, when you're up to the both arms portion, grab the one dumbbell with both hands (don't use two dumbbells).

A1) Snatch-grip deadlift
6 to 8 reps
No rest

A2) Three-way dumbbell swing
15 reps left arm, 15 reps right arm, 15 reps both arms
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 3B: Snatch-Grip Power Pull and Three-Way Dumbbell Swing (Level II)

The snatch-grip power pull is performed the same way as the clean-grip power pull explained earlier. The only difference is the width of the grip: wide for the snatch-grip pull.

A1) Snatch-grip power pull
6 to 8 reps
No rest

A2) Three-way dumbbell swing
15 reps left arm, 15 reps right arm, 15 reps both arms
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 3C: Power Snatch from Hang and Three-Way Dumbbell Swing (Level III)

A1) Power snatch from the hang or blocks
4 to 6 reps
No rest

A2) Three-way dumbbell swing
20 reps left arm, 20 reps right arm, 20 reps both arms
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 4A: Dumbbell Squat and Vertical Jump/Bodyweight Squat (Level I)

This one is essentially a triple set rather than a combo because when you reach a point where you can't jump you switch to bodyweight squats. On that later portion (squats), the goal is to get as many reps as you can in 30 seconds.

A1) Dumbbell squat
15 to 20 reps
No rest

A2) Vertical jump and bodyweight squat
8 to 12 jumps plus max bodyweight squats in 30 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 4B: Leg Press and Vertical Jump/Bodyweight Squat (Level II)

A1) Leg press
15 to 20 reps
No rest

A2) Vertical jump and bodyweight squat
10 jumps plus max bodyweight squats in 30 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Combo 4C: Back Squat and Vertical Jump/Bodyweight Squat (Level III)

A1) Back squat
15 to 20 reps
No rest

A2) Vertical jump and bodyweight squat
10 jumps plus max bodyweight squats in 30 seconds
Rest 75 seconds

Metabolic Program Design

When performing a metabolic session, I normally use two or three combos during the workout. Each combo is then performed anywhere from two to five times.

Usually, five sets are reserved for those with a good level of conditioning, as it can quickly become hell on earth. Heck, I've had tough-as-nails football players quit after two rounds of the first combo because of severe leg cramps or nausea!

With this type of training, it's wise to gradually build up the volume (number of sets) and difficulty (level) of work.

Also, you don't have to use combos of the same level. For example, if you pick combos 1, 2 and, 4, you can do a level II for combo 1, a level I for combo 2, and a level III for combo 4.

How you put it all together is up to your imagination and puke tolerance.