How Do I Talk to Clients Who Want 'Longer' Workouts (Metcons)?

As coaches of group based fitness, we will always have large audience to please. One of the most vocal groups seems to be the people who always seem to want 'longer metcons'.

Yall got any 40 min metcons.jpg

The longer workout debate with clients will always be an issue as long as the prevailing wisdom is ‘longer is better’ and ‘no pain, no gain.’ (Read more about “Exersubmissives” here). Hopefully some of the stuff I talk about below will help arm you all as coaches as you encounter this, and help clients get the most out of their class time according to their goals and expectations.  

Here is a question I got from Craig K regarding this topic:

“…I just wanted your opinion: as you eluded to in the post, and as coaches with the goal of having our clients thrive until old age, not training for specific sport performance, our main goal isn't results ONLY but creating an experience the client enjoys. If a client prefers the feeling of a 12-14 min workout over a 6-7min workout, even if the 6min one is more effective at giving them results, is it worth a discussion that it could be more beneficial to slightly increase the overall volume without going into an amount that is harmful vs keeping it short and explaining to the clients why they don't know what they want that this way is better for them…

 I was wondering how you settled on 6-7min vs. 10-12 min for a "short" workout. I am not the guy that programs chipper and countless slogfest day in and day out, I thought I had a good mix of strength, short, Med and long wods before. It just seemed that my "short" wods were rarely less than 8min especially for my general population CrossFitters…”

My Response:

These are great questions!

The 'magical' 7 min that seems to dominate comes from a bunch of factors metabolically and training effect wise, but some of the reasons are 'functional'.

When we are taking time warm up, practice a skill, lift, teach the movements, set up, etc. There just isn't enough time to do 10+ minute workouts in the hour! It tends to cut into instruction and interaction time.

More time spent on instruction and practice means more quality reps.

You can explain it this way: If they were to do a 3 round workout with lots of healthy practice and technique work, they are actually doing a similar amount of volume as the 5 round version without it - but in the former example the amount of really good reps will be much higher than what they would do as they start to break down on rounds 4 and 5!

And here is a (VERY simplified) graph that you can use (or draw on a whiteboard) to help explain movement quality vs time. It is important to point out to them that at the level of intensities (speed, load, volumes) we work at, the longer we go, the more likely they are to end up in the 'danger zone' (insert Kenny Loggins or Archer reference

What YOU can do to make sure they get a better class experience

When clients are asking for more 'long' workouts, generally it can be a multitude of things:

  • A misunderstanding of how to get results
  • A desire to 'punish' themselves
  • A feeling like they want to do 'more' that day
  • An addiction to endorphins

The best way to combat this is through education and the application of the programming itself. 

For education: Find out why they think they need the longer metcons (see above), and teach them about how their physiology actually works (for example: more metcon does NOT equal more fat loss). 

For the application in class:

  • Make sure they are getting thoroughly 'hot' during the warm up. Sweating and layers coming off before class even starts if possible.
  • Push these individuals during the group warm up parts and don't let them slack off during the mobility and skill portions. Make them do a ton of reps when doing skill work and warm up sets on lifting days (they are usually the ones 'slacking off' waiting for the metcon to start).
  • Before the metcons start (on lifting and non lifting days), make them demonstrate and practice the movements multiple times before the call of "3, 2, 1, GO!".
  • For those who want longer metcons, but never seem to go fast: during the 'short' metcons (and long metcons I guess), point out to them how much they are standing around and resting/getting chalk/getting water. Give them a bit of good-natured ribbing about how they must always want to do longer workouts so they can do more standing around with the music loud.
  • Teach them about the cash outs and have them get set up before the workout. Have them do the metcon, then rest 1-2 minutes and then do the cash out right away.

It is okay for some people to want the longer metcons, but if you customize their experience a bit so they are sweating and moving the entire hour, they should feel satisfied when they leave.

You can send them this graphic to help remind them:

Need to Sweat InfoGraphic.png


The art to this is to not make everyone do this in every class.

Some people will dislike this pace and how it negatively affects their lifting and metcon performances (because the extra volume tires them out). Coaches should learn who wants the extra push, and who likes the other aspects (the social, the performance, etc.).

Every person should have some level of customization in each class so they have the best experience.


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Thrive on.



Please share this if you found it useful or if you think it might help someone else. 

Here are a few other things you may find interesting:  

Are Shorter Metcons Worth It?

 For fat loss, the goal of movement isn’t to burn calories. It is to send the signal to the body to regulate the hormones that promote fat loss..png

We have learned with habit formation, it is nearly impossible to eliminate a habit, you must replace it. I suspect this is the reason so many people gravitate toward doing more at the gym to change body composition. It is easier to ‘add more’ exercise than it is to ‘eat less’ crap. The problem is that most people don’t understand the role exercise plays in body composition.

I did CrossFit for 15 Years and This is What it Did to My Body

15 years of CrossFit.png

I started CrossFit when I was 24. I am writing this on my 40th birthday. I hate working out, and I have never had a membership to a gym (even though I have owned more than a few).

It has been a crazy journey and I’d like to share some of my history, my mistakes, and what I have learned along the way. This is a ‘long one’ so make sure your coffee is topped off and/or you have your reading glasses handy.

 Coaching and Gym Ownership Video Playlist:


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