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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
7/19/12 10:01 P


The best way to burn more calories on the elliptical is to start gradually upping the resistance.


IZZYSGRANNY SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (4,700)
Posts: 69
7/19/12 4:06 P

i never get that high of calories burned on the eliptical.. im lucky if i burn 300 or more after a hour. maybe i should take the time to log my weight and age... it bums me out...

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,752
7/19/12 2:26 P

M@L has given a great explanation of why the elliptical calories burned are likely "off" more for someone who is heavier vs. someone lighter.

Please let us know if you have more questions.

Coach Jen

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
7/19/12 10:42 A

Fuschia - extrapolating from your 500 calories in 35 minutes does not hold.

Firstly, while for many forms of exercise, a heavier person will burn more calories than a lighter person doing the same exercise, this does NOT hold true for the elliptical, where you are working against the resistance of the machine rather than your own body weight. A heavier person using the same settings as you did is going to burn a similar number of calories. This is where Spark's calculator can get severely distorted for the elliptical, as it assumes all exericse is weight bearing, and thus produces unfeasibly high figures for heavier people.

Secondly, it gets harder to sustain intense exercise for longer periods. It is easier to burn 500 calories in 35 minutes, than it is to burn 857 calories in 60 minutes, even if both figures represent 14 calories/minute.

Thirdly, the heart and lungs can only deliver oxygen so fast. At some point, you hit the maximum your body can cope with. While those who are very fit may be able to manage more, for most people, you should be sceptical of figures above 800 calories per hour.


Edited by: MOTIVATED@LAST at: 7/19/2012 (10:43)
7/18/12 9:02 A

The difference can definitely depend on how fast and what resistance you're going at. For me, I go on the elliptical at 6.5-7mph on a hill course with a resistance of 10 [so far. I keep bumping that up]. Going by my HRM, I burn about 500 calories in a 35 minute session. So if someone's going at that speed and resistance for an hour but weighing 50 pounds more than me, I would say that 1300 calories in an hour is totally feasible. If they're doing half the speed and resistance, however [I see a lot of people at the gym stay around 4mph on the elliptical], then I'd say the calories are greatly inflated. It really depends on exactly what you're doing on the elliptical.

MAGGIEMURPHY4 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,813)
Posts: 936
7/18/12 7:17 A

Dargonchild...Sometimes this is what kills me about this site...when I questioned this, I specifically question the elliptical because it is what I use exclusively for cardio. And could not believe the difference. And my calories intake was based on that burn rate. It was Coach Jen who responded (i just looked up my post). So I when I went with Sparks amount and my calories were lower based on the lower burn rate. Now I am confused :). For me is about a 29% difference, spark being the lower amount. I guess I just don't understand how it could be lower for me and higher for her. For me this is a non issue as I have reached goal and I am maintaining based on the lower burn rate. But a 500 calorie difference will impact her calories greatly (either not eating enough or eating to many).

If this isn't a great case for buying a Heart Monitor, then I don't know what is. I just thought that the difference would be on the same side of the coin...not one higher and one lower estimate from the same source.

Edited by: MAGGIEMURPHY4 at: 7/18/2012 (07:19)
DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
7/17/12 10:35 P

Maggie, that's true for most things in the tracker, but based on the large number of posts made about it here in the forums, the elliptical is the exception to the rule. Sparkpeople consistently overestimates the calorie burn when you're comparing it to the machine itself. I know how to use every machine at my gym, and have found that to be the case. I don't know why ellipticals are off (I generally trust calorie estimates here) but they most assuredly are.

MAGGIEMURPHY4 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,813)
Posts: 936
7/17/12 9:29 P

The below article is where I got the information that spark's estimates were more conservative with their calorie counts. * cold hard truths, It wasn't just my experience. I actually thought I was burning more because I took into account what the machine was telling me. Spark told me something much lower.

I think it was Nicole who confirmed this when I questioned it on the board a while back. While agree that spark can't possibly take into account the fitness level or resistance settings it is still supposed to be a conservative number not an overestimation. Unless of course she was moving at a snails pace and even still the duration of 60 minutes at 242lbs is gong to exert a lot more energy than someone at 160lbs. The only true way to know is a heart monitor...but a 700 calorie difference is an error somewhere in reading the machine or entering the weight whether it is on sparks end or at the user end. Something is wrong,

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
7/17/12 8:48 P

I disagree a bit with Maggiemurphy (although that is obviously her personal experience) - Spark doesn't know the resistance setting of the elliptical, and just uses broad averages of exercise intensity. Whether Spark is an overestimate, or an underestimate will depend on your weight, and the resistance settings - it can significantly overestimate for a heavy person with a light resistance person, or underestimate for a light person using a high resistance setting.

As a reality check, it requires an extremely high level of fitness to burn more than 800 calories per hour - 1300 in 60 minutes just doesn't sound feasible.


MAGGIEMURPHY4 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,813)
Posts: 936
7/17/12 8:43 P

I just used Most Accurate Calories web site and 60min at 242 lbs states 1283 calories...60 minutes at 160lbs is 826 calories...sounds like the weight is off on the machine. unless you were moving very slow like at a snails pace I would go with the higher number... No real way of knowing without a heart monitor. I suppose you add the two up and divide by 2...LOL

CHIHAYA SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (8,249)
Posts: 434
7/17/12 8:33 P

My spark estimate of elliptical 60 min is 680ish, and Precore elliptical estimate is somewhere 630-650 now. So both pretty close and didn't think about it. Probably both values are adjusted by your weight but it still sounds pretty high. I would go with machine reading.

But remember, it's not definite calorie burned estimate.

I noticed Precore cardio machine estimate problem. It seems coefficient value order is speed, weight/age, then resistance. I usually maintain my heart rate certain level by adjusting resistance and keep same speed. But when I use the much lower resistance and move faster, it gives higher calorie estimate even though my heart rate does not go up that much, and feel very easy exercise. So, machine value is still somewhat unreliable, especially while using exercise programs.

Edited by: CHIHAYA at: 7/17/2012 (20:38)
MAGGIEMURPHY4 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (10,813)
Posts: 936
7/17/12 7:05 P

something is wrong...spark is always lower than what the machine says...did you enter your weight on the machine? Maybe your entered it at a lower number than you are...I think the machine defaults to 160lbs, If you didn't enter your weight and you weigh more than that, that might be why it is lower. The machines generally over estimate calories burned up to 30% higher than what you actually burn. Spark's numbers are in line with that thinking and always are 30% lower than what the machine says for me. And it is that way 5 days a week consistently for me.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (61,458)
Fitness Minutes: (15,905)
Posts: 9,717
7/17/12 6:14 P

I'd go with the machine on this one. While SParkpeople's usually pretty accurate, it notoriously overestimates on the elliptical, and doesn't include a resistance setting.

MSDEE7679 SparkPoints: (11,671)
Fitness Minutes: (16,072)
Posts: 99
7/17/12 3:48 P

60 minutes on the elliptical machine shows that I've burned approximately 800 cals. When I log it into SP, it shows 1300 cals burned. Which is correct? I have to know how may cals burned per week to get an accurate consumption cal count. I really need to invest in a HR monitor that shows this. Any suggestions on a device?

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