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Target Heart Rate for Burning Fat

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Exercising requires energy and the body gets this energy by burning fat. Health professionals have determined that by exercising within a particular heart rate zone will burn fat faster. Staying in this zone while working out will yield maximum benefit.

Calculate Target Heart Rate
Your heart rate is determined by age, fitness and gender. Tests are available to help calculate these rates, but they can be complex and for this reason these rates are based on estimates.

Target Heart-Rate Formula
A widely used estimate is 220 minus age which is accepted as the maximum pulse or the top of the zone for both men and women. This equation is a good place to start for physically fit individuals. For overweight people or those that have been away from exercise for some time a smaller maximum value is recommended.

Note: Before you start a new exercise program, always check with your heart doctor first. He or she is best equipped to decide about your ability to exercise, how soon, and how much.

Once you have determined your heart rate you can determine what your fat burning zone is. It is suggested that you train at 55% – 85% of your maximum pulse. But for those just starting to exercise it is recommend that you train at the low end which is 55% to 65% of your maximum.

Why does heart rate matter?
Fat burns best at a specific rate which is relative to your resting pulse. When you first start exercising it is suggested that you keep your pulse at the lower end of the scale. As you progress you can increase this rate and your fat burning zone will increase along with it.

Understanding what your ideal heart rate is will prevent you from working out too much and putting unnecessary strain on your body and your heart. Working within this zone will allow your system to recuperate and grow gradually and you will develop a zest for exercise. If you train too hard it becomes too much like work, you walk around feeling sore and tired, and you might lose interest.

Taking your Resting Pulse
Before you can measure your pulse you need to be in a resting position. Take it first thing in the morning after you have been sitting comfortably for a while. Find your pulse on your wrist or neck and count the number of heart beats in a 15 second period. Multiply this number by four to get total beats per minute (bpm). This is your resting heart rate.

Training Zone – Your Burn Fat Exercise Zone
In order to calculate your training zone, you start by calculating your maximum pulse. Using 220 subtract your age. This yields your maximum heart rate that you should not exceed when exercising. However it is important to stay within the zone percentages given above in order to burn fat optimally. For example if you are 30 years old and are just starting out, you should subtract 30 from 220. This gives you 190 bpm. The number your heart rate then needs to stay between while exercising would be 104.5 and 123.5 bpm (or 55% and 65%). If you are athletic and in good shape, your heart rate zone should stay between 104.5 and around 162 bpm (55% and 85%).

Target Heart Rate Exercise
Knowing what these figures are and understanding what to do with them are two different things though. If your heart rate drops lower than your zone your workout will be ineffective. Yet if it exceeds your zone you are overworking and possibly putting your health at risk at least in the beginning stages of exercising. If you want to maximize your workout and protect your health it is imperative that you stay within your zone rates.

If you are operating out of your target zone your breathing will be a give away. You should be comfortable while exercising. Your breathing will become even and not labored. You should not go out of breath, if you do you are exercising too hard and need to slow down. This means that you should be able to talk without discomfort while you exercise.

How do you keep track?
Apart from monitoring the comfort level of your breathing there are more accurate scientific ways to keep track of your zone rate. Most cardiovascular gym equipment such as stationary bikes, treadmills, rowing and elliptical machines provide heart rate sensors you can place on your palm when exercising or a belt you can place around your chest. Gym professionals are also a source of valuable information and before commencing on a regime ask them to calculate your resting heart rate, maximum heart rates and zone rate.

If you are taking your exercise out of the gym and you want total peace of mind then you may want to invest in your own personal heart rate monitor. This usually comes with a watch that you can wear on your wrist. Many allow you to set your heart rate training zone and will beep if your exceed your maximum, so you can train in your zone.

About the Author:
Tim Lazaro is a Fat Burning Nutrition enthusiast. For great tips and advice on heart rate burning fat, visit

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