Cardio and weight training combined? Sounds like a great idea, right? This practice actually exists and is known as Metabolic Resistance Training or MRT.

MRT is essentially a workout that combines weightlifting with cardio. Research shows that it is more effective when compared to the traditional cardio. You can either do it as a session finisher or as a standalone.

MRT Exercises

MRT consists of various exercises that you can do in a circuit fashion. Keep in mind that these exercises have no rest between sets, so it’s important to fuel your body with adequate calories. It’s also important to take time to rest for at least 1 to 3 minutes before starting another circuit.

MRT With Weight Training

If you plan to do MRT as a cardio that follows traditional weight lifting, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Opt for isolation exercises.
  • Choose an exercise that focuses on the same muscle groups to avoid fatigue.
  • Keep up the pace by doing higher reps, preferably 12 to 20+
  • Don’t overdo and only pick a lesser number of exercises
  • Rest periods between each circuit should only be kept at a minimum, preferably 3 minutes or less.

If you’re aiming for your chest, triceps, and shoulders in a specific day, then follow this circuit:

  • 12 to 15 reps of Pec dec/Cable flyes
  • 12 to 15 reps of Lateral raises
  • 12 to 15 reps of Triceps pushdowns
  • 15 to 20 reps of Face pulls

Do the circuit above with only a 1-minute rest in between.

MRT as a Standalone

If you’re doing MRT in a standalone manner, then keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Opt for compound movements.
  2. Choose exercises that target several muscle groups.
  3. Consider doing lower rep ranges, preferably ranging from 8 to 12
  4. Pick about 4 to 5 exercises.
  5. A longer rest period is needed, preferably 3 minutes or more.

Here is an example of a standalone MRT circuit:

  • Dumbbell Squats: 8 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows: 8 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 8 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 8 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Overhead Press: 12 to 25 reps

Do the exercises above for 2 to 3 circuits with 2 to 3-minute rest in between.


Metabolic Resistance Training is a great way to combine cardio and weight training. For those that have limited time to workout, a standalone MRT circuit is great.

You work several muscle groups and as a result your cardiovascular system and central nervous system are pushed to their limits. 

If you’re a beginner to compound movements like the squat and deadlift, a starter program like Starting Strength is a great way to get started before doing a full blown MRT circuit.