road cycling v mountain biking, calories?

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  • road cycling v mountain biking, calories?
  • No idea but MTBing is more like interval training and I feel far more whacked off a 45 mile MTB ride than I do off a 45 mile road ride! But as to scientific reasons I can’t help you there.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Of course there isn’t. It depends on how fast you ride doesn’t it?

    Road biking and MTBing are the same except that you TEND to find steeper hills off road. How many calories you use up will depend on how fast you ride each one.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    Of course there bloody well isn’t. It depends on how fast you ride doesn’t it?

    calm down dear, it’s just a kwestyin! 😀

    That’s another point tho, if you do the same miles, same terrain, the time difference on it says if you go slower you burn more calories. is it essentially just a load of nonsense isn’t it?

    Anyhow how do you accurately measure your burned calories then? Never bother about this before but i’m starting to take an interest, well mibbe if i can figure out the right way to do it..

    Depends on how hard you are trying and how hard the route is. Used to burn more calories mtb’ing (based on polar hr monitor), but road racing/harder road rides has resulted in much higher av hrs and therefore calorie burn (again, using polar hr monitor). So for me i reckon both have almost same average calorie burn.

    yossarian
    Member

    I put my weight etc into endomondo and it told me I was burning around 850 cals an hour on Saturday’s ride.

    That can’t be right can it? Only averaged around 17mph

    Hob Nob
    Member

    Also MMR seems to massively (nearly triple in my case) overestimate the amount of calories burnt compared to my HRM.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    when mapping a route on mapmyride, it says that if it’s road cycling it is x amount of calories burnt, if it’s mountain biking it’s more like 2x, is there really that much of a difference between the two?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    is it essentially just a load of nonsense isn’t it?

    Yes. You might as well randomly guess a number than go with these things.

    The Polar ones are slightly better because they think they have a method for estimating your VO2 max (they’ve published some papers on it) so that helps.

    Otherwise, there’s no real way, I don’t think.

    If you find yourself using up more calories MTBing than roadying or vice versa then you are just not trying as hard in each discipline!

    Premier Icon Tiger6791
    Subscriber

    Makes sense to me.

    Same route say on Tarmac in theory a Mtb should go slower, more drag, heavier and therefore use more calories.

    Add into that the drag of mud…

    Are you just asking about how many calories or how much fat stores you have used up? ie losing weight. There is a specific HR zone that your body typically starts using yor fat stores to get its energy which on a typical MTB ride you will regularly go over. A road ride is easier to stay within your HR zones and so is better for weight loss.

    mrmo
    Member

    thinking this through, two riders one on an MTB and one on a road bike, both producing a constant 300watts. Both will be using the same amount of energy. The mtb will be slower because it has more drag.

    So for a given 30mile route the mtber will use more energy because it will take them longer.

    Move to a more normal situation, both riders doing a 2 hour ride, the mtber will have a more fluctuating power output, alot of the time nothing, and some of the time might be 400watts, this is because of the climbs and descents, and the more broken nature of an mtb ride, the roadie will still be putting out a far more consistent level of power.

    In summary i would suspect the roadie will use more energy because they can ride solidly for two hours unlike the mtber who will be freewheeling far more.

    This is also based on observation of how much mtbers actual pedal and the detail that if i ride on the road i get far more stamina than offroad.

    druidh
    Member

    Is it really that complicated to understand??

    Assuming you put in an equal amount of effort, you’ll burn the same number of calories per hour. How much distance you cover in that time will be dependant upon the terrain.

    jamesb
    Member

    Road riding Id think most of energy is required in pushing aside a wall of air, MTBing probably hills and rolling resistance; I average about 2 x average speed on road as MTB so would if all else equal (which it isnt) use 4x the energy on a road ride at 2x MTB speed ; BUT of course all else isnt equal :( however Id still reckon that allowing for MTB hills and extra drag I`d use much more energy road biking for an equal time than I would MTB ing, even if latter was half the distance.

    Keva
    Member

    calories burnt depends how much effort one puts in whether rowing a boat, walking up the stairs or carrying the shopping home.

    Kev

    xiphon
    Member

    Perhaps the smoothness of the road, vs. the constant vibrations/movement from off-road will play a part?

    On the latter, you’re body muscles will need to make many make more little constant adjustments to cope with being battered off road.

    Food for thought…

    Dibbs
    Member

    Using my Edge 705 and its notoriously over optimistic calorie readings here are my results from Sundays Marin/Whyte demo (guiding) on the Quantocks and yesterdays road ride across Exmoor:-

    Braunton Road Cycling Mon, 18 Apr 2011 10:54
    Time 03:28:17, Distance 49.17mls, Ascent 4,041ft, Average Spd 14.2mph, Max Spd 42.5mph, Average HR 136, Max HR 163, Calories 3,132

    Quantocks Mountain Biking Sun, 17 Apr 2011 9:13
    Time 06:33:09, Distance 32.33mls, Ascent 3,859ft, Average Spd 4.9mph, Max Spd 46.9mph, Average HR 113, Max HR 171, Calories 2,427

    It shows that I used more calories on the (very hilly) road ride, and spent a lot of time standing around chatting on the demo rides, hence the 4.9mph average speed.

    It’s said that your HRmax varies with different activities. It’s higher for running than for cycling as more muscle groups are used. So I would assume it’s also higher for mtb as you use more muscle groups for stability, lowping over yats, etc. Of course that doesn’t override what’s been said above, that it’s entirely effort dependant.

    Keva
    Member

    The body will use more for fuel stop/start riding than it will for long continuous riding as it takes more effort once stopped to get going again… Just like your car will use more fuel on stop /start journeys than it does for long continuous journeys.

    Kev

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    druidh is right.

    It’s all turning pedals. Doesn’t make a difference what surface is under your tyres or what bike you are on.

    However the PROFILE of your ride affects the kind of exercise you get (not necessarily how many calories you burn up though) ie what kind of muscle fibres you use, what energy sources and so on.

    MTB is often more short sharp climbs but not always. I can take you on MTB rides with long steady climbs and road rides with short sharp ups.

    The body will use more for fuel stop/start riding than it will for long continuous riding as it takes more effort once stopped to get going again

    No! You can put out 300W pulling away from a standstill or 300W hammering along the road. 300W is still 300W regardless of terrain.

    being off road, is automatically a 1/3 rd harder than being on the road; this is from a relative who worked with the american cycling team in the barcelona olympics.

    pretty obvious really, but a good measure.

    also a no brainer; but when you get on the road linking sections of track, its always a breather and rest.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Anyway this thread is entirely stupid, and for that reason I’m out. Trying to put numbers on something very complicated by utter guess work and then arguing over the results 🙄

    …when you get on the road linking sections of track, its always a breather and rest.

    You don’t ride trailquests, do you ? 😉

    shoefiti
    Member

    I agree that it is ver complicated. Could it be that the app is suggesting that on an MTB in an hour you would burn up more cals for the same percieved effort as you would also use more upper body, due to possibly the terrain and nature of the sport. I don’t even know if that make any sense now i’ve written it.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    +1 for MTQG. Some of the fastest most committed riding I’ve ever done was on roads at Polarises 🙂

    Could it be that the app is suggesting that on an MTB in an hour you would burn up more cals for the same percieved effort total bolx

    Why yes, it could well be that.

    Premier Icon portlyone
    Subscriber

    When I road ride my shoulders ache because of innactivity whilst having to “look up” further.

    On the MTB they ache because of all the extra handling, the bunny hops and pumping you do. Surely they have an effect on calories too?

    I was on the pump track at llandegla and after a few laps you start to feel it!

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    but that can’t be right.

    if you’re doing a pump track properly, you aren’t pedaling, and if you’re not pedaling, your energy output must be zero.

    (based on some facts that I just made up)

    Junkyard
    Member

    No! You can put out 300W pulling away from a standstill or 300W hammering along the road. 300W is still 300W regardless of terrain

    That is not what they said is it, they said

    The body will use more for fuel stop/start riding than it will for long continuous riding as it takes more effort once stopped to get going again

    need to overcome inertia surely and no momentum? you will be going slower when you stop start so your journey will be longer as well

    Premier Icon Alejandro
    Subscriber

    According to a Torq paper I once read, mountain biking uses slightly more than twice as much energy as road cycling for any given time or distance. So yes, you would be right.

    However, mountain bike rides (unless you’re doing them properly) often have a tendency to turn into light social rides, whereas with road riding there’s no hiding – you are always pedalling. So, if you mountain bike properly just as you would whilst training on the road, you will probably burn the same amount of calories in half the time.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    need to overcome inertia surely and no momentum? you will be going slower when you stop start so your journey will be longer as well

    The energy you put in might be used to start and stop you, or it might be used to overcome wind resistance at high speed.

    Doesn’t matter. You will cover far less ground if you are doing the start stop, for sure.

    Keva
    Member

    The energy you put in might be used to start and stop you, or it might be used to overcome wind resistance at high speed.

    which is why people don’t like stopping and starting or riding into the wind, it takes more effort and in turn burns more calories. Stopping for a long rest is obviously diffrent to stopping for an inconvenience (ie trail obstacle or red traffic light 😉 )only to have to begin accelerating again almost immediately.

    Kev

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    which is why people don’t like stopping and starting or riding into the wind

    Or riding on threshold… What you’re experiencing here is different factors encouraging you to ride harder or less hard. It’s not intrinsic to the two types of cycling.

    XC skiing for instance burns up more calories per hour cos you’re using more muscle groups, it’s intrinsically different to cycling.

    Premier Icon ahwiles
    Subscriber

    Alejandro – Member

    mountain bike rides (unless if you’re doing them properly) often have a tendency to turn into light social rides…

    there, fixed it for you.

    🙂

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    I’d start with power. It will take a certain amount of power to move you from a to b at a given speed dependent on terrain, wind speed, aerodynamics, mechanical efficiency and friction with the ground. These variables are almost endless. The relationship of energy expenditure to power output of the human body, just like most other power plants, is not an linear one. I.e. a cyclist might be able to output 250Watts of power for an expenditure of 1000 calories per hour but to output 300 watts per hour might need 1500 cal. The relationship between ground speed and power required is also not linear with air resistance being an exponential factor. In other words there are too many factors to make a definitive judgement.

    However, if you look at the activity of mountain biking and that of road cycling and considered calorific expenditure over the same given period AND made an assumption that the rider was giving it maximal sustainable effort in both scenarios AND was riding to the same level of exhaustion I would guess the road rider would expend more calories than the mtber. My logical for this is to do with the use of the principle of threshold power. This is the max power a rider can output, normally measured over an hour – For example mine was just a few watts shy of 400W when I was last vaguely competitive. To achieve close to your threshold power potential (or a given percentage of that for longer performances) the rider needs to ride as consistently close to that threshold figure as possible. Riding above your threshold figure does more “damage” than the percentage figure would suggest – this is known as normalised power. For example I could ride at exactly 400W for an hour but I could not ride for 20mins at 200W and 40mins at 500W to mathematically average 400W for the hour. As the relationship is exponential the dwell periods below the threshold do not compensate in a fatigue context completely for the excessive periods although calorific expenditure does dramatically reduce. It might be counter intuitive but you can expend more energy racing (solo, against the clock) on a pan flat road than you will on a lumpy one. My guess is that a mountain biker will have to push themselves way above their threshold far more frequently than a road rider (unless the roadie is racing in a bunch and making big tactical efforts) and will also experience more dwell periods where the technical terrain means they are unable to work at threshold. At exhaustion the two riders normalised power may well be the same but the average power output of the roadie will be higher and therefore calorific expenditure will be too.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    a few watts shy of 400W

    That is quick!

    a mountain biker will have to push themselves way above their threshold far more frequently than a road rider

    Only if you choose to. I could hammer up road hills and trundle up MTB hills, could I not?

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    I give you that – if you were pedaling around a flat field on a mtb you should never have to go above threshold. I guess I was making the assumption that difficult assents and anaerobic dynamic maneuvers are more frequent off road where the rider has no choice but to “red line it”. That is not true for all riding though (and some roads, Hardnott pass is one stuck in my mind, give the roadie no option but to go above threshold either)

    stuboy2uk
    Member

    Judging by some of the fatties on downhill bikes, mountain biking hardly burns any calories 😉

    mooman
    Member

    x2 what Roter Stern wrote.
    HR zones …. thats why theres so many more fat mtbers than roadies.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    thats why theres so many more fat mtbers than roadies

    No.. the reason is that MTBers MTB because it’s a laugh, and they know how to enjoy life. Roadies road because they like pain and suffering, and denial to them comes naturally 🙂

    mooman
    Member

    that sounds convincing also…

    Premier Icon convert
    Subscriber

    No.. the reason is that MTBers MTB because it’s a laugh, and they know how to enjoy life. Roadies road because they like pain and suffering, and denial to them comes naturally

    Sort of agree 😀 A lot more mtbers come to it later in life as an alternative to pastimes such as mountain walking or jogging. These folk don’t think of themselves as athletes and dress and act accordingly. If there is a nice sunset they’ll watch it. Roadies – of the thin lyrca clad ilk have more in common with the track athlete or XC racer. Their (our) mindset is about pushing themselves but I’d stop short of saying they are not enjoying themselves, far from it. One of the mistakes I think I made when I stopped competitive cycling is I thought my natural mindset would change too. It’s taken a few years of pratting around on longer travel bikes living for the downhills to realise that I’m only truly happy with my lungs hanging out XC stylee (just a bit slower now!). It takes all sorts.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    so anyhow 😀 how do you measure calories burnt then, heart rate monitor?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    You don’t. HRMs just guess really. I think you need a lab and exercise bike…?

    Keva
    Member

    if you’ve spent 3/4 of the ride thinking ‘this is flippin’ hard work, I’m never doing this again’ you’ve probably burnt more calories than you normally do.

    Kev

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Subscriber

    You don’t. HRMs just guess really. I think you need a lab and exercise bike…?

    In fairness i’m not really looking for lab type accuracy, just a fair idea, clearly online sites are nonsense, is a heart rate monitors guess a half decent guess? i’m not really after more than that..I’m not an athlete and never will be, just looking for a way to gage my activities as i try to improve, distance and elevation are a couple things i’m looking to keep track of, calories burnt is another i’m thinking of..

    Dibbs
    Member

    A simple measure is average speed over a known route, but average heart rate is useful to know too, as some days you feel crap and set a good time while others you feel good and set a crap time. 😕

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