Comparison: Road Bikes Vs Mountain Bikes For Exercise

So you’ve found your sport, you really love cycling, everything is great. Except, you want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your workout. You know your knees aren’t going to last forever, you know that mountain biking and road biking take different muscle sets, and you know that one has to be better than the other for exercise, right? Well actually, it depends on what you are after and how much work you want to put in, but read on for more info and hopefully I’ll be able to help you make a choice today.

Counting Calories

In one hour of mountain biking at a normal pace and without too many obstacles, the average 150 pound person is going to burn 530 calories, with the number going as high as 1000 calories for people at 300 pounds or more. A great workout for the time put in, and one that would help you lose 1 pound a week if you did it every day. This is based off the knowledge that a single pound is 3500 calories, but your results may vary.

The number of calories you burn, as with anything, can got up depending on the intensity. If you are going for an all uphill experience that is filled with a large number of obstacles you could end up burning as many as 2000 calories in an hour. However, this type of pace is very often hard to sustain and it isn’t recommended that you do it for an extended amount of time if you are a beginner.

Road biking starts out a bit slower than mountain biking, even if you are going 10mph, you are going to only be burning 470 calories at 150 pounds for the same amount of time as basic mountain biking. However, if you surpass the 12 mph mark, you actually end up burning almost 570 calories, more than mountain biking! Top speedsters can actually expect calorie burns in line with high intensity mountain biking, making them somewhat equal once you have gotten skill in one or the other.

The calorie burn of road biking is also a bit easier to sustain as you are going to be going in a straight line most of the time. Adding in inclines will of course increase the number of calories burned, but for most people it will also slow them down, reducing the number of calories that they are burning over all. So it seems that with road biking you are best to go as fast as you can, maybe peddling along to Eye of the Tiger and imagining you are Rocky himself.

Sore Muscles At The End Of The Day

We all know that calories aren’t the only measure of fitness, and that you burn more when you have more muscle and that everyone’s body works a different way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to compare. It just means that you should use other metrics as well, like how many muscles are affected and how long it takes you to build them up. here again, there are marked differences that mostly come down to personal preference.

The first style, mountain biking, of course is going to get your legs and butt muscles into shape, but it’s surprisingly good at toning the rest of the body as well. It actually will produce quicker results and they tend to be much more bulky looking than other forms of biking. This is because with mountain biking there are a huge number of muscles used to stabilize you and make sure that you don’t go bum over head over the side of a mountain. This means you end up getting a full body workout without feeling it, similar to the claims made by vibration plates and things like rebounding, but with a difference you can feel.

The second style, road biking, is going to make you lean. By that I mean almost all of the muscle gains from it are lean, sleek, and meant to make your body go faster. Which is good if you remember from above because it means you are going to be burning more and doing more with each and every ride. However, if you are looking for a bulky physique or hoping to get the top half of your body buff, this likely isn’t the style for you. That’s not to say it won’t get you in amazing shape, it’ll just make you lean rather than bulky.

Aerobic Capacity

Both of them push you to the limit, making sure that you take in every single gulp of air that you can and making sure that you push yourself until you are burning, but which one is better cardio? Again, there are differences that can make it a bit hard to tell which style you should choose.

Mountain biking overall has a less steady cardio rate, this is because everything is much more varied. You might be going over a jump, going downhill, trying to get around a tree stump, or pushing uphill for 30 minutes. All of those are hugely varied, but there is an argument made for changing up your pace. In some ways, mountain biking might actually encompass some form of HIIT to make it all count the most.

Road biking on the other hand is pretty consistent and doesn’t really change over the course of a ride. However, as you get better at it you will get faster. When you get faster you need more air and therefore you can increase your capacity and get some killer cardio in that way.

The Takeaway (pun intended)

There isn’t really one answer for which of the two is the best option. It all depends on how you want to live your life, how you want to look, and how much time you can put into it. No matter which style you choose, make sure to take a friend, a water bottle, and the motivation to get to the goal with you.