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Heart Rate Monitors - are the Calorie counters accurate?(6 posts)

Heart Rate Monitors - are the Calorie counters accurate?CincinnatiKid
Oct 7, 2001 7:42 PM
Stupid question, but I have to ask!

Are the Calorie Counters on some heart rate monitors like the Sigma Sport PC-14 accurate?

I did a 2.5 hour road ride today, half of it into the wind, and a few good hills. I came home with a total of 40 miles and a average speed of 15.3MPH. The calorie counter read 4550 calories burned! Seemed really high to me. Hard to believe I could burn an entire days worth of caloric intake in a 2.5 hour ride. I was not pushing it, purposefully taking it easy and enjoying the day. I could see a high calorie number if I was screaming around, but I wasn't.

Any thoughts?

no jacket required...Spox
Oct 8, 2001 3:42 AM
That sort of ride takes 8-10 calories/minute if you are fit...1200-1500 calories...if you did 4550 in a 2.5 hours you did it harder than Armstrong...those c-calc are just a waste of time; why do you need them anyway; if your goal is to get thinner, eat less you use and vice versa.


Think what you eat.


No special foods needed, if you're not a pro. And if you are, you already know.

Must have been uphill both ways! -nmfiltersweep
Oct 8, 2001 3:56 PM
Not yours!Kerry Irons
Oct 8, 2001 5:23 PM
A 150 lb rider is going to burn around 30-35 calories per mile (on the flats) depending on how well they are positioned. That suggests your highest energy expenditure would be around 1400 calories for 40 miles, unless you are a LOT heavier than 150 lbs. For a 250 lb rider, caloric expenditure would go up 12% on the flats. At a minimum, your unit reads high by a factor of 3. Totally bogus.
re: Heart Rate Monitors - are the Calorie counters accurate?CincinnatiKid
Oct 8, 2001 7:32 PM
Hey guys, thanks for the responses. I was sure it was totally inaccurate...but interested in comments just the same.

Kerry, I weigh 215Lbs. Your calculation confirms what I was guessing. I probably burned about 1500 - 1600 calories. I have read charts that support a guy my size burning up to 800 calories per hour if I'm working hard.

I have seen this monitor post more reasonable caloric information in the past based upon your estimates.

I'm just coming back to road riding after 14 years on a Mountain Bike. I'm really enjoying not having to "drive to ride". I got the heart rate monitor in a effort to find out how hard I could push on climbs since that is my biggest problem area. I also wanted a better understanding of momentum. I am constantly amazed at how much easier some climbs are if you never drop off your cadence and push over the top. I am climbing some hills now at over double the pace that I used to. I have a real nice loop ride I do at least once a week. I have been using the heart rate monitor to see how much I am working at different speeds on the same climbs. One of the shorter rolling hill climbs use to take my speed down to 12 mph. I have figured out that my heart rate actually stays lower if I power that hill with a high cadence. I now can push 28mph over the top without a big real gain in heart rate. Amazing.

To answer Spox - I don't really need the calorie counter, just interested in seeing if it was accurate. I do think the heart rate monitor is a big help though. I don't wear it but a ride or two per week, sometimes less. I use it more to experiment with climbing technique, and see if I'm putting out the effort level that I think I am. I'm not a racer, just someone who likes to ride, but wants to get better at it. I am using your weight loss technique to, I eat what I want, but less of it than I use too. I'm down 15lbs in 5 months. Not earth shattering weight loss, but I'm constantly heading in the right direction with out major changes in lifestyle.

I'm rewarding myself once I'm under 190lbs. I'm thinking something steel or Ti? My Cannondale kinda beats me up. Any comments?

Do you have the PC-14?nigel
Oct 8, 2001 9:16 PM
I gather that you do, CKid. I have the same HRM, and I find the information very reasonable. I suppose the calculations they input have a decent amount of accuracy, and I'd assume that most HRMs use the very same calculation (Can there be more than one formula for accurate calorie expenditure? I doubt it.).

Is your PC-14 new? Could it be that you haven't inputted your weight and your information (max HR) correctly? If it doesn't know your weight, it can't accurately calculate your calorie expenditure. This is critical for this function. I've found no outrageous readings from mine. Recheck your instructions, and what you've input as your weight.

Best of luck with it. If it still gives you "bogus" info, I'd call up Sigma Sport (on the instructions to the unit) and mention it to them; they have good customer service.