How Many Calories Does Mountain Biking Burn?


Are you thinking about getting into mountain biking for exercise but wondering how many calories it burns? Considering how many types of exercise are available, this is certainly a valid question!

The average mountain biker burns 500 calories per hour while mountain biking. Factors such as weight, intensity, and terrain can influence this number up or down.

With that in mind, let’s jump in to see exactly what makes mountain biking a great all-around workout to consider!

What Makes Mountain Biking an Effective Workout?

When I began my journey towards getting into great shape, I had images of spending countless hours in the gym lifting weights and jogging on a treadmill.

And to be honest, in the first couple of years into my transformation, that’s what I would use to burn calories!

However, it became boring, and as the workouts became more monotonous, I would find myself skipping sessions to binge on Netflix and Doritos — don’t judge!

Then, one day, it hit me: I can get a great workout without having to sit in a gym all day. As silly as it may seem, this thought never crossed my mind.

That’s when I went online and discovered a new culture: mountain biking!

Thousands of people were riding mountain bikes through their local hiking paths as a means of burning calories and building a sweat. More importantly, I learned that mountain biking is effective because it’s fun, easy to do and has a low impact on the joints.

But more importantly, it gave me an excuse to get out into nature and explore the world around me. No longer was I forced to visit a cramped gym and wait in line to use a piece of equipment. I could strap on my helmet, get my bike and head out to explore the world!

Not only was I experiencing better workouts than I was in a traditional gym, but I felt better as the weeks and months went by. The vitamin D absorption that I gained from being in the sun boosted my immune system, elevated my mood and kicked my anxiety to the back burner 😉

Is Mountain Biking Good for Weight Loss?

While each person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for weight loss, I truly believe that mountain biking is an underappreciated tool in the realm of fitness.

Not only is mountain biking forgiving on your body, but it also strengthens your cardiovascular system in ways that many people don’t realize. In a short, 30-minute ride around my local park, I was able to fatigue my muscles more so than with traditional treadmills or resistance equipment.

The first time I went for a ride, my legs burned — the enjoyable kind of burn — for days. I couldn’t believe how an activity that was so enjoyable trumped my traditional views on weight loss.

After two months of mountain biking a few times per week, I was able to burn 19-pounds of fat from my body. While I’m no mathematician, that’s a little more than 2 pounds per week!

Does Mountain Biking or Road Biking Burn More Calories?

One day, when I was out on my typical ride through a local trail, I bumped into a friend of mine. As we chit-chatted with each other, we began to discuss whether mountain biking burned more calories than cycling on the road.

We concluded that mountain biking does, indeed, burn more calories than riding your bike on the street. While your circumstances may vary depending on your geographical location, biking on a trail through a mountain is challenging.

Being the nerd that I am, I put our theory to the test and began tracking the calories I burned during a session. To my surprise, an hour of mountain biking burned a little over 500 calories!

My friend followed up with me a few weeks later and told me that he had performed the same test I did, but while biking down the road. According to his calculations, a road setting burns anywhere from 350 to 450 calories during a 1-hour interval.

If you find yourself stuck between biking on a local trail or a country road, I say do both!

While mountain biking may provide a more efficient workout, getting a workout in is always better than sitting around doing nothing.

Calories Burned: Mountain Biking Versus Running

Once I began discovering the number of calories I could burn by riding my bike, I started comparing my activity against other methods of exercise. Shockingly, I found some interesting data about running that caught me off guard.

The average person jogging down the road at a pace of 6 miles per hour will burn an average of 590 calories in 60 minutes. However, this number will increase according to the runner’s weight, consistency and cadence.

Running, while keeping a consistent pace, burns more calories than mountain biking does. However, many enthusiasts find that it’s easier to maintain consistency while utilizing a bike for a workout.

As stated earlier, mountain biking for an hour seems to burn around 500 calories for a person of average weight. If you’re like me and push your speed faster than normal, you may experience more calories burned than your average biker.

Another negative aspect of running is that it’s not intended for everyone. If you have pre-existing conditions or medical issues that prevent you from taxing your cardiovascular system, running may be detrimental to your health.

If you are a person that suffers from shin splints, arthritis, plantar fasciitis or tendonitis in your Achilles, running may not be your weight loss solution.

Who Should Avoid Mountain Biking?

Luckily for us, mountain biking is widely available to the majority of individuals. However, if you have a weak anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), mountain biking may exacerbate the problem.

This is something that you can help avoid by easing into the activity, as well as starting out with flat pedals to give your body more range of motion.

Moreover, individuals that have a partially-torn or damaged meniscus will find other forms of exercise more effective. Mountain biking can be demanding on the lower extremities of your body, such as the knees, ankles and hips.

Dangers To Be Aware of When Mountain Biking

I soon learned that mountain biking is, generally speaking, a low-risk activity that can provide impressive results. However, certain dangers need to be understood before you venture out onto a trail for the first time.

The most common injuries associated with mountain biking come from collisions with other riders and pedestrians. When you’re on a trail and focusing on your workout, make sure to be mindful of your surroundings.

From here, obey all the signs and rules on the trail. Don’t be ‘that guy’ when you’re mountain biking past other people. I’ve suffered many scrapes, bruises and cuts from riders running into me without paying attention to their surroundings.

Also, I suggest that newfound mountain bikers find their pace gradually. When I began my fitness journey, I over-estimated my stamina and found myself nauseous and cramping at the top of the trail. While I can look back and laugh at this moment now, it can dissuade rookie riders from continuing their mountain-biking career.

What Gear Will I Need?

An error that I see many riders make is purchasing expensive and unnecessary equipment before getting a feel for the ride. Essentially, the only pieces of equipment that are crucial are your bike and a helmet for safety.

From here, you can begin exploring additional gear and accessories that will improve your ride. Your first bike modification should be a water bottle attachment. While it may seem simple, water is a critical part of a good mountain bike session.

Once you have the fundamentals down, begin purchasing affordable repair items that you can store in a small pack or bag. Accessory items such as spare tire tubes, bike gloves, first-aid equipment and GPS attachments may be useful for some riders.

If you know that you will be away from your bike for some time, a bike lock or zip tie will help secure your bike while you’re busy. Secondary items such as a compass, light system, and danger whistle can assist you in critical moments when you’re alone.

Lastly, you have stylish and eye-catching gear. I won’t lie, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on my riding apparel, but I also realize that it’s unnecessary.

Is It Right for You?

If you’re the type of person that hates monotonous workouts, mountain biking may be the routine you need. While some forms of exercise are more effective than others, mountain biking is in a league of its own.

Imagine waking up, putting on your gear and watching the sunrise from the comfort of your bike. Before you know it, you will have built up a sweat and be ready to tackle any obstacles that come your way in the hours ahead.

If you found this article helpful, then you should also consider taking a look at my other health-related articles:

Hi, I'm Zach Reed and I'm a Colorado-based outdoor lover! For more information about me, take a look at my dedicated about me page.

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