Exercise Fat Burning Zone: Are You Hitting Your Target?

Fat burning

Fat Burning Zone: Are you Hitting Your Target or Are You Falling Short?

In the previous article of this series, we discussed the importance of cardiovascular training.

Cardio training is unique to each person and in order to benefit the most from your cardio routine, you need to find two key values: maximum heart rate and target heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is based on your age and is an easy formula: subtract your age from 220 (this is the maximum beats per minute).

Each target heart rate zone has a unique effect on your heart and body. The mythic “Fat Burning Zone” does not truly exist, but there is a zone where your body is the most effective. The lower your heart rate is there is higher in percentage of calories used from fat, but this results in very few calories used during a workout. More calories are used at a high intensity, but the harder your heart works the lower percent is from fat because the body cannot convert it fast enough to feed the muscles. The target zone is a percentage of your maximum heart rate:

Max Heart Rate x Percent of Zone = Target Heart Rate.

Using the correct target heart rate zones will help you reach your fitness and performance goals quickly.

Target Heart Rate Zones and Their Benefits

220 – age = ________(Maximum Heart Rate) x _________% = _______________ (Target Heart Rate)

Heart Rate Training Zones 1-5 with Suggested Time Duration and Benefits of Each Zone. Information sourced from Polar USA.

Heart Rate Training Zones 1-5 with Suggested Time Duration and Benefits of Each Zone. Information sourced from Polar USA

* Overtraining occurs when you push your body in a heart rate zone for longer than it is suggested. This depletes the energy system of your muscles; requiring long rest breaks between training. It is key to alternate lower-level workouts between your higher-intensity training days because it will help you recover faster. 

Other Tips and Tricks for Cardio Training 

  • A longer warm-up and cool-down time is key to adjusting to the new routine, decreasing muscular soreness, and helping prevent injury.
  • A good pair of shoes will help decrease pain, improve form, and decrease the risk of injury. Some running stores have free analysis to help find the correct pair of shoes. 
  • You should perform static stretching after training or the warm-up period. If you feel cramping or tightness, you are probably training at too high of an intensity.
  • Eating a banana or peanut butter on toast one to two hours prior to cardio training will help the energy needed for cardio training.
  • Gradually increase the intensity by 10% a week in order to decrease the risk of injury and to allow your body to adapt to the new routine.
  • Consult with your primary care physician prior to beginning a workout regimen, and check that it is okay to perform exercise activities while taking specific medications.
  • Cardio training will increase your maximum heart rate and the Karvonen Formula will be more accurate than 220 minus your age.

You can find out more about the benefits of regular cardio workouts, and strength training, and ask me any questions about well-rounded training on my Instagram!

The next article will address how strength training alone will not replace cardio training, but how we can use it to improve our cardio workouts!

Allison Schmitt, CPT, PTA

Attainable Health And Fitness

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