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Fitness

Off-Season Training: The Step Mill

by C.J. Ong, Jr.

As the daylight hours shorten this winter many of us will head indoors to work on our cardiovascular conditioning. Perhaps a group cycling class will be part of your plan or a session on the StepMill may be in your workout plan. On many these machines in fitness centers such as the StepMill or treadmills you will see a reading known as a MET displayed along with calories or MPH. What is a MET? A MET is a unit used to estimate the metabolic cost of physical activity. One MET equals the uptake of 3.5 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute. (Tabers Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary)

You can determine your approximate top MET expenditure value by dividing your measured VO2 max by 3.5. Using METs can provide you with a very useful way to measure and manipulate your exercise intensity. Here’s how:

Often a fitness assessment is offered during your time being a member of your fitness club, usually as part of a baseline measurement in which your cardiovascular fitness in addition to muscular strength and flexibility would have been tested. On your results print out there should have been a suggested MET range for exercise intensity. For purpose of illustration let us consider a person whose top MET expenditure is approximately 18 METS.

When said person is working out their training range should be between 11.7 to 15.3 METS. The lower value represents the intensity used in aerobic conditioning workouts while the higher value represents the intensity associated with anaerobic or interval training. However please note that too much time at either end of the range may not give you the results you want as a result of under or overtraining.

METS can also help you figure out how many calories you burn while exercising outdoors (since most of us don’t have a digital calorie readout built into our bodies somewhere!) Get out your pencil and calculator. The formula used here is: METS x 3.5 x body weight in kg/200 = kcal/min. (ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription)

Obviously the activity and the intensity applied to one’s activity will affect the MET expenditure. Some MET expenditures for various activities are given below:

Running 12 min/mile, 8.7 METS; 8 min/mile, 12.5 METS; 6 min/mile, 16.3 METS

Bowling 2-4 METS

Cycling 10 mph, 7 METS; 20 mph, 13 METS

Dancing (aerobic) 6-9 METS

Using this formula here’s how many calories a person who weighing 154 lbs. and running a local 8K footrace in 29:45 would burn:

Convert the weight to kg by dividing by 2.2. (1 pound = 2.2 kg) Our 154 pound person converts to 70 kg.

2. Plug the numbers into the equation shown above.

16.3 x 3.5 x 70 / 200 = 19.9675 kcal/minute.

This runner would burn approximately 594.03312 kcal doing the race.

(By comparison our same subject would only burn 109 kcal in 29:45 minutes of bowling. Hmmm…is bowling truly exercise or perhaps better classed as activity?)

There are many methods in which to measure cardiovascular fitness. If you would like to learn which method is most appropriate for your specific goals or exercise program feel free to contact me at The Crucible Gym at thepitbullatthecrucible@gmail.com.

Article by C.J. Ong, Jr.

The Crucible Gym


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