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How Many Calories Does Mountain Biking Burn?

guide on how many calories does mountain biking burn

There are many reasons why you might take up mountain biking. You might want to get outdoors more, make new friends, learn new skills, or because you just love exercise. One main reason people take mountain biking is to lose weight. Mountain biking is an excellent way to lose weight, and It’s very fun in the process.

The key to losing weight is burning calories. Many cyclists ask us how many calories does mountain biking burn? Well, there are a few things to think about when it comes to this, and in this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know.

What are Calories?

Calories in a simple form are just a unit of energy. So when you look at a pack of food, and it contains 100 calories, that’s the amount of energy the body gains from eating that food. On average, a man will require 2500 calories per day, and a woman will require 2000 calories per day.

Why is It Important to Understand Calories?

person wears sportswatch calculates calories burned
Photo by Artur Łuczkaon Pexels

We think it’s vital to understand calories for many reasons. It can massively help when it comes to dieting and fueling your workouts and is a great help when it comes to understanding a healthy balanced lifestyle.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Mountain Biking?

female cyclist burn between 300 and 900 calories per hour while mountain biking
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Typically you will burn between 300 and 900 calories per hour while mountain biking. Obviously, there’s a big difference between 300 and 900 as this is affected by many factors that we are going to discuss next. Then we will speak about ways you can accurately find out how many you are burning.

Work Rate

If you want to burn more calories, you simply have to work harder. The more you push your body, the more calories it requires. An hour at your endurance pace could be 500 calories. A high effort race pace could be 900 calories an hour. A good way of judging your effort is by looking at your heart rate. The higher it is, the more calories you will be burning.


Another very big factor is the duration of how long you are riding. If you ride for 30 minutes, you could burn 300 calories, but an hour would be 500 calories. If you’re looking to burn a lot of calories out on your mountain bike, sometimes working at a lower effort for a much longer time burns more calories than a high effort for a shorter time.

Your Body

We all burn calories at different rates. If you are a 6ft 5” male with a lot of muscle mass, you will burn a lot more calories than a 5ft 4” female with much less muscle mass. If you have larger muscle mass and are bigger, your body requires more energy to move as it has more muscles it needs to fuel.

The Terrain

If you’re riding uphill, you are going to be burning a lot more calories than if you are riding down. Riding uphill is a lot more demanding on the body compared to downhill. This is because you are working against gravity and not with it. It requires much more force on the pedals, which means the body has to use more calories.

How to Work Out How Many Calories You’re Burning?

calorie calculator helps how many calories you're burning
Photo by Kwok Chung on Unsplash

So how do you work out how many calories you’re burning? Well, you have loads of different options to choose from, and we’ll give you the pros and cons of each one.

Online Calorie Calculator

online calorie calculator
Image from

An easy way to find out the calories you’re burning is by using a calculator. On this website, you will enter your weight, how long you were riding, and how fast you were going, and it will roughly estimate your calories. It’s a good tool for making an estimate, but because you can’t tell it how hilly the ride was. It won’t be as accurate as you might want.


  • Easy to use
  • Free online
  • Good for an estimate


  • Not very accurate as it doesn’t have much data
  • It doesn’t account for terrain

Activity Watch

The next way you can work out the calories you are burning is by using an activity watch. You have many on the market to choose from, like an apple watch, fit bit, and various Garmin watches. This is a great way to track your mountain biking; you will enter your details when you first set it up, and then it will use that data alongside recording your heart rate to get a good reading. Some do track your ride data too.


  • Easy to use
  • Tracks all activities
  • Good estimation


  • Not all account for terrain
  • Hard to see while riding

Cycle Computer with Accessories

Cycle computers with accessories such as a heart rate monitor and power meter are the best way to go, but they are also the most expensive. What they do is use your personal data alongside all the data from the ride, such as elevation and even the wattage you generate through the bike, and then give you a very accurate calorie count.


  • Easy to use
  • Excellent data
  • Accurate calories for mountain biking
  • Easy to use while riding


  • Cost


Mountain biking is an excellent sport and a great way to stay in shape. When it comes to how many calories it burns, it greatly differs because of so many factors. You can expect around 300 and 900 calories per hour, but if you want an accurate figure, we recommend using an activity tracker.

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.