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The Truth Of Target Heart Rate For Fat Burning

January 11th, 2013 · 1 Comment ·


Many of us want to lose body fat. You probably have heard people telling you that you could identify the exercise intensity within certain range of heart rates so that you can have the highest body fat burn rate (or the so called highest rate of fat oxidation).

In fact, have your personal instructor asking you to put your palms on the bar when you are running on treadmill? What he wants to do is to get the reading of your heart rate. Once he knows your heart rate, it is easier to find out whether you are performing the exercise effectively. Now, with or without personal instructor, let me share with you how you can calculate your target heart rate zone and the real truth behind myths about this topic.

To find the range, we need the lowest rate and highest rate. The formula are:

  • Lowest rate = [(220 – age in years) – Resting Heart Rate] x Exercise Intensity at 65% + Resting Heart Rate
  • Highest rate = [(220 – age in years) – Resting Heart Rate] x Exercise Intensity at 85% + Resting Heart Rate

First thing first, one of the most important piece of information is your age. Given these information: Say your age = 25 Resting heart rate = 50 beats per minute (click here to learn how to find your resting heart rate)

  • Lowest rate = [(220 – 25) – 50] x 65% + 50 = 144 beats per minute
  • Highest rate = [(220 – 25) – 50] x 85% + 50 = 173 beats per minute


Above example reveals a target heart rate zone of 144 to 173 bpm. During your exercise, if your heart rate is within that range, you are burning mostly fat. As you increase your intensity, your body starts using a smaller percentage of fat and a larger percentage of carbohydrates as fuel. In other words, if you run faster with higher heart rate, you still burn fat, but lesser.

Not So Accurate Way To Find Out the Target Heart Rate for Fat Burning

If you find it hard to work out the numbers above or you do not have any heart rate monitor, you can roughly gauge the cardio intensity based on your ability to talk or sing during the workout. When you are within that fat burning zone during workout, you should feel that you are able to talk but you just do not want to talk. If you can talk when talked too, your cardio workout may not be intense enough.


2 Things You Must Know About Target Heart Rate For Fat Burning

  1. You may have seen those heart rate charts at the cardiovascular exercise machines that list two “zones.” They claim that there is a “Fat Burning Zone” and a “Cardio Zone”. They seem to imply that if your heart rate is above the fat burning zone, you will not burn fat. The chart is misleading. The truth is that you will still burn fat within the “Cardio zone”, but you will also tire more quickly because you will be working harder.
  2. Within the target heart rate zone for optimal fat burning, you might at a rate of 50% – meaning 50% of those calories come from fat which is 150 calories of fat out of total 300 calories burnt. With intense cardio, you might burn total 500 calories during the same time frame, but only 40% from fat. Guess what? Just because the zone is 50% and the high intensity is 40%, you still burned more calories from fat by working out intensely (200 calories versus 150 calories). So, you may actually burn more rate even when you are out of target heart rate!


So How?

So, what is the conclusion – should we do our cardiovascular exercise at lower or higher pace? This is what I suggest:

  • For overweight person, the percentage of calories one burns from fat or carbohydrates does not really matter. For weight loss in this case, the important number is how many total calories one burn. The target heart rate is secondary.
  • As for those who have achieved ideal weight, try to burn fat. So, exercise within the 65% – 85 % fat burning zone, if possible.

Whatever figure it is, be sure to exercise consistently with a minimum of three times per week. Related heart rate monitor watch from Amazon which you may want to check out:



Category: Health

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1 response so far ↓
  • Capn John // Jan 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    It’s also critical that if you’re trying to lose weight/fat through diet & exercise that you do strength training to maintain your current muscle mass.

    Muscle burns calories, even at rest muscle burns calories. Therefore, more muscle equates to more calories burned. Conversely, if you lose muscle you’re decreasing your body’s ability to burn calories. That doesn’t mean you need to try to look like Arnie, but your weight loss regimen should still include some form of strength training.

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