Could somebody give me an idea of how to figure out the number of calories I'm burning on a stationary bike?

The bike I'm using is a cheap Pro Fitness magnetic bike from Argos (http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/9237386.htm), and it comes with a digital readout of speed, distance, pulse, calories, etc. but the calories stay the same no matter what setting I ride on.

In other words, if I do 45 minutes at 30 kph on setting 1 (extremely easy), the calorie readout will be the same as if I do 45 minutes at 30 kph on setting 8 (around 200!). Obviously this cannot be true.

I've been using this site (http://prod.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/cycling-calories-burned-calculator) to get an estimation of my calories, and the calculator says I will burn about 750 calories for a 45 minute ride at 30kph, but the calculator is for bicycles and not stationary bikes.

Are there any guidelines or info for stationary bikes only?

  • Ignore the calories from the machine. They're notoriously unreliable. If you can, get hold of a heart rate monitor. They have you age, weight and HR and can measure calories more accurately.
    – Holloway
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 20:46
  • HR does allow you to compare one (recent) effort to another one, however, HR means the wild guess becomes a slightly less wild guess in terms of actual cals burned. (You need Vo2max)
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 22:36
  • Simple. Just construct an insulated room around the bike and measure the rate of temperature rise. Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 1:45
  • 2
    I always wonder why average (as opposed to elite athletes) people care about calories while exercising - exercise is really good to get you fit and healthy, its a really inefficient way to loose weight.... Has anyone ever worked out how much cycling you really need to to to burn off that cream bun? Its an awful lot easier not to eat the bun....
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 6:11
  • @mattnz it's a quick and easy way to compare sessions - reasonably reproducible on identical machines and at least better than a subjective comparison between two different machines or exercises.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 9:15

1 Answer 1


Since you say you have a heart rate display, you can use one of the various online calculators to convert heart rate to calories.

Such calculators can only give you an approximate answer, but they will be better than nothing. And they're free.

Be careful not to overheat using a stationary bike.

  • Can't measure calories accurately without knowing V02Max and Anaerobic threshold. Reasonable approximation can be made if the device uses Max Heart rate in the calculation, but as its impossible to know if the device uses the figure even if you can program it. Unless you are one of the lucky few who is 'average' (the "formulas" are accurate for, you are average fitness, average fat/muscle ratio..... the calculators are wildly inaccurate - best you can get is consistently inaccurate, but as you get fitter, your V0O2Max changes so even that is unlikely.
    – mattnz
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 22:29
  • 1
    @mattnz Yes, what you say is all true. Some of the websites in the first few hits of the Google search I gave explain that, and give steps to estimate VO2Max. It's a start.
    – andy256
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 22:54

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