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The Best Fat Burning Heart Rate for Maximizing Your Cardio Fat Loss Results

  Apr 28th, 2011

Fat Burning Heart Rate - Heart Monitor Line
I have experimented with numerous different cardio workouts to burn fat. Some used extreme levels of intensity for short bursts of time and others were on the complete opposite end of the workout intensity spectrum.


I found that just about every level of cardio workout intensity can lead to some amount of fat loss, but I was not interested in getting anything less than optimal fat burning results from my 30 minute cardio workouts. I decided to stop hoping that I was doing cardio the right way and spent some time researching the effect that workout intensity and heart rate has on our ability to burn fat and am going to share with you what I found.


I discovered that many weight loss cardio programs use a low-intensity fat burning heart rate target of 60% of a person’s maximum heart rate. The theory behind targeting 60% of the maximum heart rate is that as you start to exercise, your body uses sugars and glycogen to fuel your muscles.


As you increase your intensity to reach 60% of your maximum heart rate, the readily available sugar fuel source quickly runs out, and your body starts to combine fat with oxygen to power your muscles.


As long as you stay in the low intensity heart rate range, your body will rely on fat as its primary energy source and you will continue to burn fat.


Why 60% Is Not The Optimum Fat Burning Heart Rate

While a low-intensity heart rate of 60% will burn fat, the goal should never be to just burn fat – It should always be to maximize the fat burning results of our cardio workouts. It turns out that there is a more effective fat burning heart rate range that will lead to significantly better fat loss results.


Recent studies have shown that higher intensity workouts can lead to significantly greater fat burning results. A higher intensity fat burning heart rate allows you to burn greater amounts of fat during your workouts as well as the added benefit of burning fat after your cardio workouts while your body is recovering.


Too Much Cardio Intensity Reduces Fat Burning

It seems logical that the more intensity your cardio workouts have, the more fat you will burn. However, the scientific research actually paints a different picture…


Increasing your heart rate to over 80% of your maximum heart rate for an extended period of time will actually result in less fat burned during your cardio workouts.


Without getting too scientific, as you move to higher intensity exercise, your body moves from aerobic activity, fueled by fat and oxygen, to anaerobic activity which is primarily fueled by carbohydrates.


The reason for the change in your body’s preferred energy source is that the body isn’t able to break down fat quickly enough, so it has to turn to carbs as its primary fuel source, because carbohydrates do not require oxygen in order to be converted to a useable source of energy.


The Most Effective Fat Burning Heart Rate

While low intensity and extremely high intensity cardio workouts will effectively burn off unwanted body fat, in order to achieve the most efficient fat burning results from your cardio workouts, you will want to maintain a target fat burning heart rate of 70%-80% of your maximum heart rate.


In order to most accurately determine what 70%-80% of your maximum heart rate is, you will need to measure your resting heart rate. To do this, you simply check your pulse immediately after waking up in the morning.


Count the number of pulses during 10 seconds and multiply that number by 6 to get your heart rate in beats per minute. You can then take your resting heart rate number and plug it into this calculator and you will be provided with a chart that will tell you what 70% and 80% of your maximum heart rate is.


If you would like a quick estimate of what your target fat burning heart rate should be, I have put together a chart to help you get started.


Target Fat Burning Heart Rate Chart

Age (In Years)Target Fat Burning Heart Rate (BPM)
15 & Under 145 To 166
16 To 20 142 To 162
21 To 25 138 To 158
26 To 30 134 To 154
31 To 35 131 To 149
36 To 40 127 To 145
41 To 45 123 To 142
46 To 50 120 To 137
51 To 55 116 To 133
56 To 60 113 To 129
60 To 65 110 To 126
66 To 70 106 To 121
70 & Over 100 To 115


Monitoring Your Fat Burning Heart Rate

While performing your cardio workouts, you can check your heart rate manually by simply checking your pulse for 10 seconds and multiplying the number of pulses by 6 to get your heart rate in beats per minute.


However, this is not a very convenient method of tracking your heart rate as it will require you to momentarily
halt your workout while you check your pulse.


The easiest and most accurate way to ensure that you are within your target fat burning heart rate zone is by using a heart rate monitor watch. They are extremely affordable and very simple to use.


Here is a link to purchase the heart rate monitor that I personally use for my cardio workouts:


Timex Unisex Personal Heart Rate Monitor Watch


Implementing the techniques and principles I have shared with you in this posting has allowed me to drastically reduce my body fat in a matter of weeks. If you want to get the same kind of fat loss results, using the most efficient fat burning heart rate will allow you to maximize your fat burning results.



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