I use both Fitocracy and The Daily Burn to track my exercise. I find that one limitation both of them have is that, when I do something like a bodyweight circuit routine, I'm able to record the exercises and the reps but the ancillary benefit of the cardio on calories burned is uncaptured.

I've been thinking of simply recording an additional "generic cardio" alongside - something like jogging - but I'm unsure about the parameters I should use. My first idea was to record the same amount of time as the exercises took, but I feel like that definitely involves some double-counting, especially in the area of caloric burn, so I feel like maybe... time * .67 might be accurate, but I'm still just guessing. What is a more accurate way to record the caloric burn of circuit routines?

  • 1
    Personally, I just add a note "Tabata" or "circuit" so that future me knows why I managed so few reps. Then again, I track mostly because of myself, I don't really care about the points (tbh, though, the amount of points from my Tabata burpees is minuscule compared to my rock climbing, so eh).
    – VPeric
    Feb 7 '13 at 10:26
  • Pen and paper don't have this issue. Feb 7 '13 at 12:53
  • @VPeric I don't care about the difference in reps. I care about being able to track the increased caloric burn benefit that circuit routines require.
    – Zelbinian
    Feb 9 '13 at 0:33
  • @DaveLiepmann What? How does tracking this via pen and paper help me better understand what the caloric difference between the same routine under normal conditions and under circuit conditions?
    – Zelbinian
    Feb 9 '13 at 0:33
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    I didn't pick up on the fact that caloric burn, rather than accurate recording of the activity, was your goal. Feb 10 '13 at 0:42

Theres no benefit to logging calories burned via exercise

Calorie measurements for exercise are rarely accurate. The difference between doing X reps of an exercise, and X reps of an exercise really fast is pretty negligable to begin with.

For example:

But all of this is contingent on you being a mid-twenties 72kg Male, that the chips are "regulation" potato chips, that the ambient temperature is the same as when the results to get these estimates were measured, that the moon was in the third house of Ragnarok, etc... you can see where I'm going here.

If you are tracking the calories you eat properly, and calculated an honest TDEE, consider exercise to be above and beyond that. If you do, if you skip a session, you won't need to adjust your food intake. Yes fitness should be based on science, but at some point you have to acknowledge the innacuracies in your measuring instruments and go by the one you can trust - your own body.

If you track your food and exercise independently - i.e. Food diary only measures food, workout diary only measures weight/reps/run time/etc... - and you are losing too much or too little weight, adjust your food intake requirements accordingly. But be reactionary, because outside of a control laboratory, it is impossible to measure to the accuracy you are aiming for.

Caveat - there is a huge benefit to tarcking your exercise

Just to be clear, I'm not saying don't track your exercise. Tracking workouts to see trends gives a great way to track progress and performance in areas such are improved pace, increased weight lifted or improved endurance. However, the calories burned that is reported by most tools are wildly inaccurate, so I would recommend just flat out ignoring them.


Probably the most accurate way to get a good estimate of how many calories you have burned is by using a heart rate monitor. If you decide to go this route, get the kind with the belt or armband. The band monitors the heart rate and sends a signal to the wristwatch, and the wristwatch has the computer that will analyze all the data.

Most decent HRM will allow you to input height, weight, gender, age, and resting heart rate (which is best taken first thing in the morning, while you are still in bed). When you hit "start" it will start tracking your heart rate and give you a pretty good indication of how many calories you are burning.

Keep in mind though, it is still just an estimate, although it will be more accurate than a generic estimate on something like Fitocracy. Where a HRM has the biggest advantage is in giving you an accurate indication of when you have reached your target heart range, since this is the determining factor for meeting your cardio goals.


You can't.

and rhetorically asking... And what do you count as a calorie burnt - are you counting just during your workout or recovery calories also? There is scientific evidence that your body burns more calories recovering based on intensity. Not sure how you can measure your intensity level.

In my opinion I think cardio equipment giving read outs based on weight and distance is laughable too. If I run 1 mile in 5 mins compared to 6 I will burn more calories recovering. Every treadmill I have ever gone on would give me the same amount for the mile...

  • Do you happen to have a source on that "after-burn" topic? I always wondered how big that effect is.
    – Baarn
    Jul 27 '13 at 7:25
  • And I have to disagree with the "You can't". Calories are just a vague measurement (maybe completely useless), but there are still a lot of ways to get estimates. If those are useful is another question.
    – Baarn
    Jul 27 '13 at 7:27
  • You can alway's measure scientific calories. Just take the resistant mass you are moving and distance you moved it. That gives you your calorie - it does not give you how many calories burnt during the activity because your body is a very inefficient tool. Your body will burn way more calories per workout than "scientific calories". Does calculating calories have any use in fitness or training... only for wide estimates. If you are training for a competition then maybe you look at it for dietary needs.
    – DMoore
    Jul 27 '13 at 16:37

If I understand you corretly, you would like to log various kinds of sports and for each also be able to, for instance, compute the respective number of calories burned. I use Endomondo for this. For each workout you can specify the kind of activity and the total time spent. The site then computes the calories burned. When I'm doing weight training, I additionally log my sets/reps in the notes you can attach to a workout.

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