Calories Burned Spinning: The Numbers Revealed


Spinning is one of the most intense and strenuous group exercise classes you can take part in.

For some, spinning is all about the atmosphere and getting a great workout done in a short period of time, but for others, it’s all about burning calories. So, how many calories does a spinning class burn?

It’s going to depend on a few factors, but don’t worry, in the article below I will give you a very good idea of just what you can achieve.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

You’ve probably heard amazing things about what spinning classes are, and the incredible results people have got in just a few months of sessions.

Body transformation articles are posted all over the internet as a result of taking up regular spinning classes, but is there any truth behind these stories, and can spinning really be that beneficial?

Well, the good news is that yes, spinning can be incredibly beneficial to not only your health in general but also as a great weight loss aid. So let’s dive into some of the numbers and start exploring what kind of results you can expect.

A 45-minute high-intensity spin class burns 431 calories for a 180lb male or female. Three sessions per week at this rate will burn 1293 calories per week. A pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, so a mixture of spin classes and a caloric deficit is best for weight loss is that is the goal.

How many calories do people burn in a 30-minute spin class?

indoor cycling calories

An average male will burn between 483 calories per 30 mins spinning class when bouts of high intensity are added into the session. Females burn 415 calories for the same workout. This is calculated using the formula calories burned per minute = (MET x bodyweight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200.

You may well be surprised at how high that number is, or you may be a little disappointed.

You see, 400 or so calories is a hell of a lot to burn in a single session, but, it’s the same amount you’d get in a chicken and bacon sandwich with a small bottle of orange juice. It might not seem fair that you have to put in so much effort to burn off what appears to only be one small meal.

The good news is that that’s not really how you should see food and calories if you are trying to lose weight. It’s all about calories in vs calories out, and if you’ve just burnt off what would have been your entire lunch, it’ll be much easier to stay in a calorie deficit than if you hadn’t taken the class, as it’s almost as if that meal never happened.

A calorie deficit just means that you ate fewer calories than you burn off in a day, and that’s a very simplified explanation of how you lose weight.

Here’s a table showing how many calories you can burn for a shorter (30-minute) spin session, using varying weights and intensity levels.

Weight (lbs)Low-intensityModerate-intensityHigh-intensity
150187 Calories238 Calories357 Calories
160201 Calories256 Calories383 Calories
170212 Calories270 Calories404 Calories
180226 Calories287 Calories431 Calories
190237 Calories301 Calories452 Calories
200250 Calories319 Calories478 Calories
210261 Calories333 Calories499 Calories
220275 Calories350 Calories525 Calories
230289 Calories368 Calories551 Calories
240300 Calories382 Calories572 Calories
250314 Calories399 Calories599 Calories

How you can increase calories burned spinning?

Let’s be honest, 400 calories in a half-hour workout is pretty incredible, but how can you boost those numbers up?

Well, your first option is to increase the intensity at which you’re working. You can either do that by increasing the resistance you’re working against by turning up the resistance dial on the bike, or your second option is to increase the speed at which you’re pedaling.

If you needed even more of a workout, you could add your own additional exercises by turning the resistance to nearly its maximum and doing push-ups on the handlebars whilst you pedal.

You’d usually want to do that when you’re training on your own because if you start adding additional exercises into a group class you could anger the instructor by making them feel like they aren’t giving a tough enough session.

The warning that comes with this is to not go too hard too early on or you might find yourself seriously struggling to finish the class or your own 30 min workout at home.

Don’t burn out too quickly!

How many calories do you burn in a 45-minute spin class?

A standard spin class lasts between 45 minutes, to one hour, with warm-ups and cool-downs included. During this session, there will be periods of low and high-intensity exercise, instructed by the teacher. These can include high-resistance and low-resistance sprints, steady-paced work, and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) based work.

The number of calories you will burn in each of these varies greatly, but most classes will contain these elements, so we can be fairly accurate with the estimations below.

Weight (lbs)Low-intensityModerate-intensityHigh-intensity
150281 Calories357 Calories536
160310 Calories383 Calories575
170318 Calories404 Calories606
180338 Calories431 Calories646
190355 Calories452 Calories677
200375 Calories478 Calories717
210392 Calories499 Calories748
220413 Calories525 Calories788
230433 Calories551 Calories827
240450 Calories572 Calories858
250470 Calories599 Calories898

How many calories is it safe to burn at one time?

This ties in nicely to my previous point about burning out too quickly.

More is not always better, and in the case of weight loss, this holds true. It’s easy to get very excited by the amount of weight you can lose when you start learning about how many calories equals a pound of fat for example.

However, if you start trying to burn too many calories in a day, you could put yourself at some serious risk of burning out and overtraining, which leads to some pretty unpleasant side effects that can take months to correct.

If you are very overweight you can get away with burning more calories each day safely than a learner person. So, in essence, the leaner you are starting off, the fewer calories you can afford to safely burn each day.

For weight loss, you should aim to be in a deficit of between 400-500 calories each day. This amount will help you to safely achieve roughly 1lb per week.

Remember that not all these calories need to come from exercise, your diet plays a big part too.

How many spinning classes to lose weight?

OK, so you’ve seen some of the numbers now, but what does it all mean? If your main goal for taking up spinning classes is to lose weight (which is a very common reason people take it up), you’ll probably be wanting to know how many times you’ll need to go each week, right?

Example

Let’s take a 30-year-old, 5ft 9 inch, 180-lb female that’s looking to lose ten pounds to get her to her ideal weight of 170lbs. Other than the spin classes she’s planning on taking, there’s no other deliberate exercise, so, just walking to the office, up some stairs into her apartment each day, etc.

She plans to cut down her food a little, but she still enjoys going out to dinner a few nights a week, and work lunches are a part of her career she cannot avoid. So, taking her metabolism into account, she will be burning 1921 calories per day, whilst eating 2100 calories per day, which gives us a current daily caloric surplus of 179 calories.

A single pound of fat is said to contain 3500 calories, so in order to lose a pound per week, (if diet were not to be taken into account at all), she would need to be completing 8, 45-minute sessions of spinning, using maximum intensity for the entire class.

If she lowered her daily calories by 550 per day, she would have a deficit of 3850 calories per week (a good start), but if she included one moderate spin class and four high-intensity spin classes each week, she would have an additional deficit of 3015 calories, making for a total weekly deficit of 6865 calories.

When you add in the “accidental exercise, such as taking the stairs and walking to and from the office, 2lbs per week is very achievable. It must be said, however, that this is still a pretty lofty goal, and 1-1.5lbs per week is probably more realistic.

Do spin classes burn more calories than outdoor cycling?

spin bike calories burned

According to caloriesburnedhq.com an average male of 198lbs cycling at 16 kph over a distance of 7 miles (30 mins worth) burns around 472 calories, which puts it at almost exactly the same as in a spin class.

So how can this be? Surely you must burn more if you’re sweating like crazy and using hill sprints?

In road cycling, you are moving at a near-constant pace, whilst still needing to tackle naturally occurring obstacles like hills. The combination of a constant speed with hill climbs makes for a pretty intense workout, even if you aren’t dripping wet in your first ten minutes.

Bear in mind that in a spin class you will have periods of rest where you are working at a very low resistance, whereas this is missing from outdoor and road cycling.

So in the end, the calories burned indoor cycling and road cycling end up being pretty much the same, one is certainly safer than the other, but it’s really down to personal preference.

Is spinning better than running?

how many calories does spinning burn

Ok, so what about running? surely a crazy intense spin session has got to burn more calories than running, right?

Once again, according to caloriesburnedhq.com a half-hour run of an average male traveling a distance of 3 miles at a pace of ten minutes per mile burns around 462 calories.

Shocked by this?

Well, it’s just like our road cycling scenario above, with running you are usually working at a consistent pace for the entire time you’re exercising.

Spinning may feel harder as you are training by using intervals of intense exercise mixed with lower intensity recovery periods, but it’s the consistency that keeps the calories burning whilst you’re running.

Here’s the good news!

Don’t be too quick to cancel your membership at the spin studio because of the results above, the numbers aren’t quite what they seem.

What we haven’t taken into account is any of the after-effects of training in a HIIT or (high-intensity interval training) style, such as the potential to build muscle mass (due to increased human growth hormone output) and increased metabolism for hours after the exercise has ended.

Running and cycling are great cardio workouts, but they aren’t hugely taxing on the body. If they were, not nearly as many people would travel to work using them. They are low-intensity exercises, whereas training in a HIIT style of constant high and low intensities (what your basic spin class is made up of), is far more taxing on the body, this is why you shouldn’t only consider the calories burned spinning, but should also consider the after-effects of the workout.

This means it takes a lot of effort for your body to reach its resting state after a HIIT workout, so you will be burning calories for hours after the actual workout has finished. This is how spinning classes beat other exercise types in terms of calorie expenditure, it plays the long game!

Conclusion

I hope today’s article has given you a more clear idea of the calories burned spinning, but more importantly, it will have shown you how effective it can be as a longer-term method of weight loss.

Just remember not to overdo it on the bikes, I’ve burnt out before from overtraining, and I can assure you it’s no fun at all.

Have a great day!

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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