I'm trying to figure out what MET values for various exercises mean. Cardio exercises seem pretty clear to me: 6 MET for bicycling means that one hour of bicycling for a person weighing 70 kg burns 6 * 70 = 420 kcal.

However, what about exercises such as weight lifting, where you need to rest between sets? Are MET values calculated to include rest or not? For example, I see in many charts that MET for weight lifting is 6. If the person weighing 70 kg trains for one hour, lifting for one minute and then resting for one minute (so the total lifting time is 30 minutes), does he burn 420 kcal or 210 kcal?

2 Answers 2


OK. Let me start with that; the MET values are not 100% correct. It sometimes over or underestimates depending on the individual (lean body mass, age, sex etc.), but it is used widely. Yet, it can be used by just carefully taking all the considerations into account. The thing is, all the MET calculations includes the resting time because during recovery after weight lifting, stores are replenished by using oxygen which may keep the MET value high (I mean higher than resting value of 1 MET or 3.5 ml/kg/h). It may be under or over 6 MET but it is a rough estimate anyway so it can be ignored. I believe, that is why, all the MET values are calculated based on hourly basis and at last, he burns approximately 420 kcal

There are some studies related to it Circuit weight training and its effects on excess postexercise oxygen consumption. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate


The MET tables are only estimates, and depending on whose you're looking at you'll find values between 4 and 6 for weightlifting. So you could obviously see a 1/3 difference in the KCal estimate, for supposedly the same activity, if you pick 4 over 6.

If you have the ability to measure your own heart rate, before, during, and while recovering from a lift, you can estimate a more accurate figure via the VO2 / VO2max route, and / or determine your own MET estimate for your own particular take on weightlifting; per the maths and examples I gave in my answer to: Metabolic Equations for Anaerobic Exercise?

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