The Calories Burned in Indoor Cycling Classes

By Allan Robinson

You can calculate the calories you burn in an indoor cycling class from your heart rate, VO2 max, age, weight and gender. The calories you burn during a class are similar to other types of stationary cycling.

Heart Rate

The formulas that calculate your calorie expenditure rely primarily on your heart rate. This is possible because your heart rate is fairly linear with your calorie expenditure when your heart rate is 90 to 150 beats per minute, also known as bpm. You should keep your heart rate within this range during an indoor cycling class.

VO2 Max

You can achieve the greatest accuracy of your calorie expenditure when you use a formula that takes your VO2 max into account. Your VO2 max is essentially the highest rate at which you’re capable of using oxygen. You can calculate your VO2 max with the following formula: VO2 max = (D - 505) / 49.2. The D in this formula is your maximum 12-minute running distance in yards.

Procedure

Put your heart monitor on according to the instructions for your model, and ensure that it’s receiving your heart rate. Begin your class, but wait until your heart rate gets above 90 bpm before you turn on your heart rate recorder. Keep your heart rate within the range of 90 to 150 bpm by pedaling slower or faster as required. Turn your heart rate recorder off after the class before your heart rate drops below 90 bpm.

Calculations

Calorie expenditure formulas, published by Lara Keytel and fellow researchers in The Journal of Sports Sciences, are different for men and women. These formulas require you to provide your heart rate in bpm, your weight in pounds, your age in years and the time of your class in minutes. The formula for women is: Calories = (0.450 x Heart Rate) + (0.380 x VO2 max) + (0.0468 x Weight) + (0.274 x Age) - 59.3954 x Time / 4.184. The formula for men is: Calories = (0.634 x Heart Rate) + (0.404 x VO2 max) + (0.179 x Weight) + (0.271 x Age) - 95.7735 x Time / 4.184.

Estimate

The website my-calorie-counter.com provides a general estimate of the calorie expenditure rate for an indoor cycling class. This estimate only takes weight into account and does not account for gender, physical condition and age. This calorie expenditure estimate shows that a person weighing 140 pounds will burn about 318 calories per hour in a typical indoor cycling class.

Considerations

Your cycling routine in a class or on your own will influence the number of calories burned. Cycling classes tend to involve intervals. If you cycle on your own, you may not cycle in intervals or push yourself as hard. Changes in weight will affect the number of calories you burn. If you lose weight over time, the calories burned in your workout will change.

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