Calories Burned Cross Country Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is an energy-demanding activity, XC racing, in particular, will push your body to its limits and you will end up burning a very high amount of calories, this is why XC mountain bikers are usually in such great shape.

In a typical XC race, you will burn 1500 to 2990 calories correlated to your body weight. XC races are very demanding because you have alternations of uphill, flat, and downhill sections which are all timed so you need to maintain a racing cadence on the entire course.

Cross country race

How Many Calories Can You Burn Cross-Country Mountain Biking?

A normal XC race will take from 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, but to find out how many calories you will burn XC mountain biking we need to take into consideration the body weight of the rider.

Mountain biking uphillMountain biking uphillMountain uphill (racing)
Bodyweight30 min [kcal]1.5 hours [kcal]2 hours min [kcal]
60kg (132.3lb) – 69kg (152.12lb)504 – 579.61512 – 1738.82016 – 2318.4
70kg (154.3lb) – 79kg (174.2lb)588 – 663.61764 – 1990.82352 – 2654.4
80kg (176.3lb) – 89kg (196.2lb)672 – 747.62016 – 2242.82688 – 2990.4
90kg (198.4lb) – 99kg (218.3lb)756 – 831.62268 – 2494.83024 – 3326.4

As you can see a mountain biker will burn a very high number of calories in an XC MTB race, riding on rough terrain on a racing cadence requires a lot of energy.

On Enduro races the uphill portion of the stage is not timed, this is not the case with cross-country MTB races where you will have uphill sections incorporated into the route.

Because in an XC race, you need to complete multiple laps on the same trail you will be forced to maintain a racing cadence on many uphill portions, and as all cyclists know uphill rides require the most effort.

All the values presented in this article are calculated for a racing cadence but if are an average rider having fun on XC trails then you can take into consideration the values calculated for mountain biking in general, you can find them here.

To proper determinate the number of calories burned in an activity you need to take into consideration how intense this activity is, this is represented by the MET value which is assigned by the American Council on Exercise.

Cross-country mountain biking is challenging with a MET value of 16 (one of the highest of all outdoor sports), so it’s important to be as fit as possible.

Try out our calories calculator

You can get the number of calories burned for your exact body weight, more than this you will get how many calories you would burn if you were road biking or trail running!

Cycling Cadence Mather

If you’re looking to lose weight while cross-country mountain biking, you need to improve your cycling cadence.

In order to increase your cadence, you’ll need to improve your technique, for XC mountain biking, you should aim to keep your cadence between 80 and 100 revolutions per minute, by doing so, you’ll be able to maintain the same maximum speed for the duration of your ride, thereby enhancing your endurance and burning calories.

XC Mountain Biking Is a HIIT Training

The American Heart Association recommends that you get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, or 150 minutes total, on your mountain bike. To increase your cycling endurance, begin with small, achievable goals and work your way up. It takes time to build endurance and doing too much too soon can lead to burnout and injuries.

HIIT training is a way to maximize your fat burning and increase your VO2 max. It’s a fast, intense workout that challenges your aerobic and anaerobic systems at the same time. By cycling at high intensity for a short amount of time, you can mimic the effects of longer sustained efforts, such as running.

During this initial burst, your heart rate rises, your oxygen consumption increases, and your lactate levels increase. The final burst will burn even more calories and develop your anaerobic capacity. The goal is to get your body to increase your anaerobic power to a level that’s suitable for your race distance, this is done through intervals that last from 45 to 90 seconds.

Cycling uphill is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness and increase your endurance. By cycling uphill, you will also be working all your muscles, so you’ll be burning more calories.

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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.