The Calorie Conundrum: How Many Calories Am I Really Burning?

If you’ve ever worked out on a piece of Precor cardio equipment, you’ve probably looked at the calories burned readout and wondered, “How does this machine know how many calories I’m burning?”

Well, we have some answers for you. Keep reading to learn how that calories burned number is calculated on Precor equipment.

The calorie readout is determined by a number of user variables including age, weight, stride rate, and resistance. Also, the calories burned number also varies based on which piece of equipment you’re using and whether you enter your personal stats.

Precor treadmills, steppers, and bikes rely on standard calorie calculation formulas developed by the American College of Sports Medicine, while Precor ellipticals and Adaptive Motion Trainers (AMTs) rely on a specialized formula due to their unique movement pattern:

• For ellipticals, the equations consider a user’s weight, age, ramp angle, resistance, and stride rate
• For AMTs, the formulas integrate user weight, age, resistance, stride rate, stride height and stride length

To get the most accurate caloric reading possible, you should enter your weight and age.

If you start a workout without entering this information, Precor equipment will estimate your calorie burn for you. If you're using equipment featuring a P80 console (shown below), calorie burn is based on a 35 year-old, 170-pound exerciser. On an AMT, calorie burn is based on a 35 year-old person, 180-pound exerciser. On any other piece of Precor cardio equipment, calorie burn is based on a 35 year-old, 150-pound exerciser.

All things considered, remember that these formulas only provide an estimate of calories burned and no piece of cardio equipment will give you a perfectly precise readout because each person’s calorie burn varies based on fitness level and physiology.

Tips for using the caloric readouts

Despite the fact that calorie readouts only provide an estimate of how many calories you're burning, calories can still be a great way to gauge your effort and the effectiveness of your workout. Here are a few tips from Precor Global Education Manager Erica Tillinghast on using caloric readouts to gage your fitness progress:

• Let your calories coach you! If you train regularly on the same product, you can use calorie data as a general guide to track your progress and exertion. Write down how many calories you burned after each workout and use these records to compare exercise exertion across a period of time.
• Caloric expenditure increases as you increase ramp angle, stride rate and resistance, so play with these factors to find out which variation burns the most calories.

Author Information

Dani Wolfe

Danielle Wolfe is a native of the East Coast, but she currently resides in Seattle, WA. She is a fitness blogger, an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and is always on the lookout for the latest trends in fitness and nutrition.

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