Ask the Expert: a follow up on the calorie burning question

A member left an excellent question on the discussion page for the interview with Danielle Foster about calories burned. She wondered if you put your accurate information in your heart rate monitor, why isn’t the calories burned correct. This is such an excellent question I thought I’d expand on it and give you some advice on how to use those calories from your HR monitor. On the second part of my inteview with Danielle Foster of CycleOps on The Real Skinny on Burning Calories in Your  Indoor Cycling Class, Alyssa left an excellent question in the comments section. I answered her question on that page but many of you many not go back to see it, so I thought I’d expand upon it here, and also give you some tips on ways you can use the calories burned data from your heart rate monitor or bike computer.


Here is Alyss’a question:


Nice article, but I have some concern that needs to be clarified. In your email newsletter you state: “ignore the calories you see on your HR monitor”.

When I teach I have everyone wear a HR Monitor and 90% of the students have purchased their own Polar HR monitor (FT7 series). They have entered their user info. (i.e: wt, ht, dob, HR limits, etc.), and I too have done the same with my FT80.

In a 60 min. class I will easily burn 650 – 700 calories, and the majority of my students burn anywhere from 500 – 600. How can you say that I should ignore that number on my HR monitor when I have entered all the vital stats?

I realize you can’t go by what the media says, but when it comes to HR monitors are they not accurate??? Please clarify.


Here is the answer I left for Alyssa in a comment (with additional explanations and examples).

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