Apple Watch workout calories (MTB)

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Hi all! I have several weeks training mountain bike with the Apple Watch and using the native workout app. The question is, how precise is the calorie counting??? Two days ago: 50km, 3h43m, 985 calories. I think it is too little. Another friend who used Endomondo said 3500 calories (what I think is too much). I have seen in a page that it should be around 1800. What do you think? How about another sports?
Thanks
 

jhfenton

macrumors 65816
Dec 11, 2012
1,082
636
Cincinnati, Ohio
Most non-Apple cycling apps estimate far too high a calorie count, and I believe the app produces reasonable estimates for me. I rode yesterday and recorded an outdoor cycling workout: 2:50:19; 54.61 miles; 19.2 mph; Avg HR 123; Active Calories 2,055; Total Calories 2,338.

I was not mountain biking, though. What workout type did you use? Cycling? What distance did it measure for your 50k ride? When I run on mountain bike trails, I get relatively poor GPS accuracy because of the tree cover.

Beyond that, the riding style for mountain biking may confuse the algorithm. For common exercise types, the Watch has algorithms that are optimized for that exercise. For road cycling, calorie burn is pace dependent because of wind resistance. You burn a lot more calories per mile cycling at 20 mph than you do cycling at 15 mph. For the most part, that's not true for running. For mountain biking, your calorie burn would depend more on elevation changes and terrain than speed. Perhaps the relatively low speed confused the algorithm, especially if it couldn't pick up the elevation changes and fine turns on a typical mountain bike course.
 

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Thanks a lot!!! A great explanation!! And very detailed and reasoned. Maybe I selected normal bike and not mountain one, I will check it.
But the precision of gps was pretty good.



The distance was more or less the same than bike speedometer, so... I don’t know.
 

jhfenton

macrumors 65816
Dec 11, 2012
1,082
636
Cincinnati, Ohio
Thanks a lot!!! A great explanation!! And very detailed and reasoned. Maybe I selected normal bike and not mountain one, I will check it.

But the precision of gps was pretty good.The distance was more or less the same than bike speedometer, so... I don’t know.
Unfortunately, I don't think there is a mountain bike option. I don't see one on my Watch, even going in to add additional workout types, just "Bici" and "Bici (int.)"

I think the problem is probably the speed. If you rode a road bike at 13.5 km/hr, you would have a very slow calorie burn. You would think it would consider terrain and HR, but maybe it doesn't. What was your HR like during the ride?

IMG_0296.PNG
 
Last edited:

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Unfortunately, I don't think there is a mountain bike option. I don't see one on my Watch, even going in to add additional workout types, just "Bici" and "Bici (int.)"

I think the problem is probably the speed. If you rode a road bike at 13.5 km/hr, you would have a very slow calorie burn. You would think it would consider terrain and HR, but maybe it doesn't. What was your HR like during the ride?

View attachment 851668
You are right. I tried a while ago and there is no other option but “bici”. I have it in Spanish too.

My average hr was relatively high. Next time I’ll try with Endomondo

 

jhfenton

macrumors 65816
Dec 11, 2012
1,082
636
Cincinnati, Ohio
You are right. I tried a while ago and there is no other option but “bici”. I have it in Spanish too.

My average hr was relatively high. Next time I’ll try with Endomondo
Yeah. That was a solid, moderately-intense long ride. 985 is a ridiculous estimate. I'd buy 2,500, maybe 3,000.

A third-party app is a good idea. They can generate their own calorie calculations that differ from Apple's Workout app, but that still feed into Activity and Health. I've had the opposite problem with a few apps that I tried, in that they generated inflated calorie counts, particularly for (road) cycling.

I've settled into using the default workout app for most runs and all (road) cycling. I use "Intervals" for runs with repeats/intervals. I use the "ErgData" iPhone app for indoor rowing. (ErgData is hideously ugly, but it is Concept2's own app that connects to their rowing machines via Bluetooth and pulls actual rowing data. The built-in "Remo" workout just estimates performance and calories based on HR.) And I use "Gymaholic" for weight-training. They are all better for their specific use cases.

There's probably a third-party app that will work better for you. Maybe Endomondo. I've just never used it.
 

millerj123

macrumors 68000
Mar 6, 2008
1,953
1,504
Hi all! I have several weeks training mountain bike with the Apple Watch and using the native workout app. The question is, how precise is the calorie counting??? Two days ago: 50km, 3h43m, 985 calories. I think it is too little. Another friend who used Endomondo said 3500 calories (what I think is too much). I have seen in a page that it should be around 1800. What do you think? How about another sports?
Thanks
I've only used it a couple of times for bike riding, but with Runkeeper, on the same run with nearly the same times the calorie count can differ by over 200. So, one time it'll say I burned 500 and the next nearest time is 700. I just use it as a very general guideline.
 

jz0309

macrumors 6502
Sep 25, 2018
321
1,398
Temecula, CA
Hi all! I have several weeks training mountain bike with the Apple Watch and using the native workout app. The question is, how precise is the calorie counting??? Two days ago: 50km, 3h43m, 985 calories. I think it is too little. Another friend who used Endomondo said 3500 calories (what I think is too much). I have seen in a page that it should be around 1800. What do you think? How about another sports?
Thanks
I have been using MapmyRide on my iPhone for 7+ years to track my MTB, Apple Watch now for 3+ years, I typically use both. calorie count is typically ~50-80 higher on mapmyride. There is however a ~.6 mile difference in distance, mapmyride shows ~ .6 miles more.
My typical ride is ~ 2hrs and 15-16miles, typically 800-900 active calories.
Interesting though, I hit indoor cycling a few times accidentally and for the same route, it shows I burnt ~ 200 calories more. I know that indoor cycling continues calories burnt when not moving, outdoor cycle does not do that - that does not explain the 200 calories difference though.
 

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Thanks everybody.
Then. Is it normal that Apple Watch measures so bad the calories while biking???? It’s very surprising.... are there any bug post in stone?
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,674
3,527
Thanks everybody.
Then. Is it normal that Apple Watch measures so bad the calories while biking???? It’s very surprising.... are there any bug post in stone?
Calorie usage estimates from apps are effectively just guesses: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...ers-at-counting-calories-burned-idUSKBN18L2OZ

Also, wrist worn heart rate monitors are not particularly reliable when cycling, especially so when mountain biking, so that's another factor that can cause issues in the estimates.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jhfenton

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Calorie usage estimates from apps are effectively just guesses: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...ers-at-counting-calories-burned-idUSKBN18L2OZ

Also, wrist worn heart rate monitors are not particularly reliable when cycling, especially so when mountain biking, so that's another factor that can cause issues in the estimates.
Ok. But this article says that almost devices use to have 25% error margin and Apple Watch is the most precise. So I don’t know yet what my extremely bad calorie counting. Now I remember that I have a friend that work as bud-driver and he can make a lot of calories a day more than me, who are more active and walk everyday more than him. In fact if you see his steps, them are pretty smaller than mines, but his calories are pretty bigger than mines. Why? Should I talk with Apple? How much calories do you have in a normal day without any workout?

Thanks!!!!!!
 

jhfenton

macrumors 65816
Dec 11, 2012
1,082
636
Cincinnati, Ohio
How much calories do you have in a normal day without any workout?
On a normal weekday I will "earn" something between 400 and 500 "active" calories in addition to my workouts. Yesterday, I ended up at 1,309 with a trail run that burned 896. So the rest of the day was 403. Thursday was 1,748 with a run of 1,305, so 443. That's just from walking around the office, taking a few flights of steps a few times, walking a block to lunch, etc. When I was sick in June and stayed in bed most of a Saturday, I earned only 228. The next day, I was up, but sat around more than usual, and I earned 344.

So that's the range for me, a 49-year-old male, 5'11", 165# as of this morning.
 

mk313

macrumors 65816
Feb 6, 2012
1,022
419
I'm assuming that you already did this, but make sure that your weight is set correctly, as it uses that in the calories used computation. 985 seems super low, so I doubt that is the whole issue, but having your weight set correctly would definitely give a more accurate calorie calculation than not.
 

Luiggi7

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 28, 2017
129
15
Sorry for not answering sooner. I rode today2:15 and 27,41km and 1733 calories. With Endomondo. It’s a very very big difference between Apple workout and Endomondo, isn’t it? Last time a longer workout recorded (Apple workout) only 985 calories. I will try to ask Apple.
 

jon08

macrumors 68000
Nov 14, 2008
1,680
29
Guys, sorry to jump in, but can sb explain to me
You are right. I tried a while ago and there is no other option but “bici”. I have it in Spanish too.

My average hr was relatively high. Next time I’ll try with Endomondo

Guys, sorry to jump in, but can sb explain to me what exactly does it mean when the heart rate chart shows (long) vertical lines as in the screenshot above, as opposed to dots?
 

oeagleo

macrumors 6502a
Feb 5, 2016
671
382
West Jordan, Utah
Guys, sorry to jump in, but can sb explain to me


Guys, sorry to jump in, but can sb explain to me what exactly does it mean when the heart rate chart shows (long) vertical lines as in the screenshot above, as opposed to dots?
The long vertical lines are the "RANGE" of heart beats for that time period. Your heart doesn't beat at a consistent rate, even moment to moment, and if you say climbed the stairs for something, then came back down during the "measurement" period, then your graph will show a vertical line.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jon08
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.