Find Your Fat Burning Zone
Losing unwanted fat is a massive challenge, I think we can all agree with that!
What if it was simpler than you thought? What if all you need to do is workout your fat burning zone and track your heart rate to achieve it?
In this article, you will learn how to find your ideal fat burning heart rate zone, which (with good clear eating habits) will help you shred the unwanted fat!
Once you get to know your ideal heart rate for fat burning, you can use a heart rate monitor to keep you in that zone!
It is easier than you think, keep reading and I’ll tell you 🙂
Why Maximum Heart Rate Does Not Mean Maximum Fat Burning!
Most people believe the harder they work out the more fat they will burn.
The truth is fat burning happens at a much lower intensity than many of us realise.
Even if you’re sweating your butt off in the gym to the point where you are running harder than your mascara, you might actually be missing a golden opportunity to lose fat.
The key is finding that sweet spot where your body begins to burn fat during your workout—this is where the magic happens!
Get in the Fat Burning Zone!
Every individual has their own unique heart rate zone that burns the most ‘fat calories’.
Stay below this zone and you aren’t maximising the fat burn.
Go above this zone and you’re burning calories, but not necessarily getting rid of the right ones i.e. body fat.
So a longer session lifting weights could actually be doing you more favours than an intense 20-minute cardio workout, if fat burning is your goal.
So how do you make sure you’re working out at the right level of intensity to reap all the benefits of a training session?
The first step is to calculate your fat-burning zone.
Time to do some maths!
Before anything else you need to figure out your maximum heart rate!
First, you need to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
What Is A Maximum Heart Rate? – Why Is It Important?
The MHR is generally calculated as 220 minus your age. It is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.
In other words it’s the point where you’re sore, tired, sweaty, out of breath and everything HURTS!
So as a 32-year-old woman my MHR would be 220-32 = 188 Beats Per Minute (BPM)
From this you can then get even more clever with it, and determine your fat-burning range.
Now – it is recommended that you exercise within 55 to 85 % of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 to 50 minutes at a time to get the best results from aerobic exercise.
And depending on your specific goals, you can break this down even further!
7 Zones Of Training!
This video describes the 7 heart rate zones of training:
How Can This Help Me Achieve My Fat Burning Goals?
Scenario 1: I want to burn all the fat!
When you’re doing cardio to burn fat, you want to stay in the range of 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate.
The idea is to get a bit of a sweat on and work your muscles to the point of fatigue, for around 40-80 minutes at a time.
This type of exercise improves basic endurance, promotes fat loss and helps recovery.
Scenario 2: I am already a super fit athlete therefore I want to increase stamina and maximise my performance!
If the goal is to increase stamina and aerobic capacity, your aim should be to work at 85% of your MHR.
The idea is to go hard for 2-10 minutes at a time, get completely out of breath, and sweat like a pig.
Therefore, as someone who is looking to maximise my fat burning potential (prepare to die, fat!), I would want to be training at 60% to 70% of my maximum heart rate. Time to get the calculator out…
188 x 0.6 = 112.8
188 x 0.7 = 131.6
Which means somewhere between 112 and 131 is my fat burning sweet spot – bye bye belly!
And what should your heart rate be when you’re sitting on your butt and doing nothing at all?
A normal Resting HR can vary as low as 40 BPM to as high as 100 BPM. 70 BPM is usually the average for a man, and 75 BPM is average for a woman. Your resting HR can be used as a benchmark to improve your cardiovascular fitness level.
Basically you want to be focusing on decreasing your heart rate!
How can I tell what heart rate I’m working at?
A heart rate monitor is a great investment. Our recommendation is definitely the FitBit!
This post of the FitBit blog is an excellent read:
All you do is enter your information (usually age, weight and MHR) and wear it while you work out.
A few months ago I wrote a blog about how I’m obsessed with my FitBit, and nothing’s changed since then!
I can be working out and then with a flick of the wrist, it tells me whether
I need to step it up a bit, or lower the intensity.
Now, I know what you are thinking – why would you want to lower the intensity?? Because you want to burn fat, NOT just calories.
Anyone who has a FitBitor heart rate monitor will notice that when you work harder, the number of calories you burn increase.
That’s great, but don’t be fooled! It does not necessarily equate to more weight loss.
When it comes to fat loss, unfortunately not all calories are equal.
Working close to your MHR might burn some serious calories, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re burning fat.
To target your body’s fat storage (yuk!), lower intensity workouts that keep you in the fat burning zone are what’ll do the job.
Is Your Heart Rate In The Right Zone For Fat Loss?
Check out this video for an excellent description on the heart rate zone for fat loss debate:
Which Workouts Do I Need To Do To Get Into The Fat Burning Zone?
Choosing a workout and intensity level to reach your fat burning zone will depend on your fitness level.
Let’s use good old-fashioned running as an example.
If you are a regular runner with a ton of mileage under your belt, chances are you’ll need to run faster to reach your fat burning zone than someone just getting into it.
If you want to get into the fat burning zone, you can do this with a long, slow run. Either outdoors or on the treadmill.
A long, slow run is a guarantee to keep you in the fat-burning zone for your entire workout.
A few things to keep in mind before lacing up your trainers and venturing out.
- SLOW is the key word here. Keep your pace moderate enough to remain in your target heart-rate zone (60% to 70% of your max heart rate)
- If you’re you’re new to running then consider doing a brisk walk first, as going straight into a run might take you closer to your MHR than you want to be. As your fitness level builds, you’ll be able to swap your walk for a jog, or alternate walking and jogging intervals. All of this without coming out of the fat-burning zone!
- Aim to complete a long, slow distance run around 2-3 times per week, as well as your other fat burning workouts. Such as strength training. Moves like walking lunges as opposed to jump lunges are fab for fat busting – there’s less risk of injury too, as they’re a lot more low impact.
Ultimately, it’s the right combination of cardio training and strength building exercises that is the key to burning fat.
And as long as you make sure you stay ‘in the zone’ throughout your workouts then I guarantee you will speed up your fat loss and get the most out of every session!