Heart Facts

Learn more about why and how regular exercise
will change your life.

Heart Fact #7:
Optimize your weight loss with heart-rate training

Are you trying to lose weight and are you tired of spending hours and hours exercising without any further visible result? Perhaps your workout is not efficient enough for fat loss. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend more time doing your favorite kind of exercise – it means that you can optimize the time you use by “working hearter and smarter”. 

Despite what you may have heard about the fat-burning potential of low-intensity exercise, your max-fat-burning zone actually occurs at the “upper” end of your aerobic zone — about 80 percent of your max heart rate. 

It’s true that working at a lower level of intensity (50 to 65 percent of your max heart rate) is easier to maintain for an extended period of time (an hour or more) and it also allows you to burn a greater percentage of fat calories as compared to carbohydrate calories. Yet minute for minute, this lower level of exertion burns substantially fewer total calories, and thus fewer fat calories overall. It’s at approximately 80 percent of max that you experience the largest total amount of fat being burned during the shortest duration of time. Generally, you’ll be able to hold your max-fat-burning intensity for at least 30 minutes (longer as you become more fit).

Estimate your Max-Fat-Burning heart rate with this test:

-Choose an activity in which you can maintain a consistent intensity, such as running, cycling, skiing, rowing, etc.

– Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes.

– Increase your intensity to the highest heart rate you can hold and maintain it for 10 minutes. You should be able to talk, but your sentences will be short and choppy.

– Active recovery for three minutes — keep moving but with light resistance or intensity. 

– Return to the highest heart rate you can hold for 10 minutes and maintain it.

– Cool down for five to 10 minutes.

Average your heart rate from the two vigorous 10-minute sessions to determine your estimated Max Fat Burning. 

(Note: This number should be equivalent to the one displayed on most aerobic equipment.)


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