Fun fact: Did you know that your heart starts beating only 22 days after you were conceived and continues to do so until the day you die? well, here is how you target your heart rate to burn calories.
If your heart were to stop beating, you would technically be dead, even if you were later revived.
Your heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats, it is usually measured in beats per minute(BPM). Your heart rate simply gives an idea of how many times your heart beats in a single minute. For instance, the average person has a heart rate of between 60 to a hundred BPM while at rest. This means that the average person’s heart beats between 60 to 100 times every minute while they aren’t carrying out any physical tasks. That is: if you were lounging on your couch, watching tv, your heart rate would be between 60 to 100BPM.
If you are physically exerting yourself, your body tries to turn the glucose in your blood into energy. Hence, if you continue exerting yourself, your heart will try to compensate for the required energy by pumping oxygenated blood at a faster rate in order to supply more oxygen. More oxygen supply means more oxygen to breakdown glycogen and fat in order to fuel your muscles.
How your heart rate relates to fat loss
Primarily the source of fuel for your muscles is glucose. However, the secondary source can be found in your fat cells. Glycogen is used to store carbohydrates and fat in the body. In the event that your body runs out of glucose, your body breaks down glycogen to form glucose in order to fuel your muscles.
In order to break down glycogen, oxygen is required. This means that the oxygen in your blood will be used to break down your fat stores or glycogen.
As you work out, your glucose levels begin to deplete. When you continue exerting yourself during an exercise, your body will eventually run out of glucose and begin to break down your fat stores. When this happens your heart begins to pump blood faster in an attempt to supply the required oxygen to break down your fat stores.
The knowledge of your heart rate and how it influences fat burning can be used to target your heart rate to optimize fat burning.
According to the explanation above, you might think that you only need to work out harder to burn more fat. This is not strictly true. Optimal fat-burning occurs at lower-intensity than we think. This is especially good news for people that may not be able to work out so much.
Even better news: finding your optimal fat-burning zone is not as hard as you think.
Finding your heart rate
before you are able to target heart rate to burn calories, you first need to find your heart rate. These days, technology has advanced to the level that it has become so easy to find your heart rate even while you are working out. The use of wearable gadgets and smartphones have made it easy to keep track of your heart rate in real-time. Some people might prefer to use a chest strap, however, it has been discovered that the accuracy is similar to any wearable gadget.
If you monitor your heart rate as you work out, you will notice a correlation between the difficulty of the workout and your heart rate.
It is important to note that environmental conditions such as temperature also affect your heart rate. Hence, working out in a hot environment produces a higher heart rate than in a cold environment.
In addition to environmental factors, recovery also plays an important role in how are or how low your heart rate is going to be doing your workouts. If you have not fully recovered, your heart rate is likely to be higher.
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Finding your fat-burning zone (preplans for targetting your heart rate to burn calories).
Since individuals are unique and different in their own way, the fat-burning zone for every individual differs based on individual uniqueness. Asides targetting your heart rate to burn calories, you need to find your fat-burning zone.
Your fat-burning zone is the zone at which your body burns the most fat. If your heart rate is below or above the zone, your body will still continue to burn fat, but not at the most efficient rate.
Luckily there is a technique for tailoring your fat burning zone to you. You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting the products of your age and 0.66 from 220. Expressed mathematically as follows;
Maximum heart rate = 220 – age * 0.66
For instance, if you are 30 years of age, simply multiply the number 30 by 0.66. subtract the results from 220. Your maximum heart rate can be estimated at 200.
Calculating the maximum heart rate using this method does not require any technology. However, it is accurate.
Once you have estimated your maximum heart rate, you can then divide your heart rate into zones. These zones will provide you with a general idea of how much hard work you need to put in during your workout session.
For moderate intensity, your fat-burning zone is estimated to be between 64 to 76% of your maximum heart rate.
This zone is suitable for endurance athletes who may not wish to push themselves further. Weight lifting workouts can remain in this range as well.
For instance, a 30-year-old person has a maximum heart rate of 200. This means that the fat burning zone will range between 128 to 152 beats per minute.
If your intention is to burn as many calories as possible, vigorous-intensity workouts are the best option. With vigorous-intensity workouts, your heart rate should range between 77 to 93% of your maximum heart rate.
This means that if you are 30 years old, vigorous-intensity workouts should have your heart rate between 154 to 186 beats per minute.
Some gadgets may provide you with their own heart rate zones, however, the information in this article was gotten from recommendations made by the center for disease control and prevention (CDC).
Heart rate reserve (targetting heart rate to burn calories).
The heart rate reserve is an accurate way of determining the intensity of exercises. This method was developed by Martti Karvonen, a Finnish scientist.
You can calculate your heart rate reserve by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
When you lie down and relax for a few minutes with a smartwatch or fitness tracker on, you should be able to determine your resting heart rate. If you do not have access to any gadgets, you only need to put your fingers on the side of your neck or your wrist to feel your pulse.
Once you feel you are relaxed enough, then check your heart rate on your gadget or do the manual method.
The manual method involves placing your index and middle finger on the side of your neck until you can feel your pulse. You can also feel your pulse on your wrist by placing your thumb or index and a middle finger firmly between the hard muscular tissue of the wrist and the adjoining bone that ends at the bottom of your thumb.
Once you have detected your pulse, begin counting how many times you can feel your pulse in 15 seconds. Whatever your pulse count in 15 seconds multiplies it by 4. That is your estimated heart rate.
You can also do this while active to determine your heart rate at any given time.
You can track your heart rate over a few minutes for a more accurate average.
So, if you are 30 years old, and you have a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute. Your heart rate reserve is 200 minus 60. That means that 140 BPM is your heart rate reserve.
Once you have found your heart rate reserve, you can then map out your exercise intensities.
To map out your exercise intensities, multiply your heart rate by the following values for each intensity:
- 90% or above for maximum intensity.
- 60 to 89% for vigorous activity.
- 40 to15 9% for moderate activity.
- 30 to 39% four-light activity.
- 30% or less for very light activity.
Using the example above for a 30-year-old with a heart rate reserve of 140, we can get the heart rate for vigorous activity by multiplying the heart rate reserve of 140 by 0.6 and 0.89. which should give us 84 and 124 respectively. This means that the heart rate range for a vigorous activity for this person would be between 84 and 124 beats per minute.
Using the same calculation moderate-intensity activity will have your heart rate ranging from 56 to 83 beats per minute.
However, your target heart rate requires one more step.
You need to add your resting heart rate so you’re moderate activity heart rate.
This means that you will add 60 to 56 and then add 60 to 83. This should put your target heart rate range between 116 and 143.
So, when you keep your workout intensity between 116 and 143 beats per minute, you will burn fat at the optimal level.
The calculation may seem complicated, but if you take it step-by-step and substitute the figures as it applies to you, you should be able to easily get your accurate target heart rate range.
You can then use this range to adjust your workouts. It is much easier if you wear the heart rate monitoring gadget. However, if you do not have it, you can still estimate it as explained above.
If your workout is focused on endurance, you should stay in a moderate intensity.
If your workout is at intervals, begin by reaching vigorous-intensity heart rate range and then slowing down to a moderate or light range as you rest.
Choosing the right workout for your goals (heart rate to burn calories)
Now that you have a good idea of your heart rate and workout intensity heart rates, you can then proceed to choose the workout that will more efficiently cater to your goals.
Avid runners will need to run faster to reach their fat burning zone competitive someone that just took up running. We have put together a guide for every fitness level below;
Most of our daily activities keep our heart rates low, and as a result, we have very few fat-burning opportunities in our day-to-day lives. However, we can maximize these few activities by doing the following;
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Take a bicycle to lunch or walk instead of driving.
- When exercising your dog, take a long walk rather than playing fetch.
- When you reach a parking lot, park at the back and then walk the distance to the entrance.
Generally, if you run at a slow pace for longer and cover more distance, you can stay in the fat-burning zone all through your workout. You need to keep the following in mind;
- If you want to increase your weekly total mileage, do not exceed 10%. This will reduce the risk of an overuse injury.
- Try to complete a long, slow, long-distance run between three to five times a week.
- Start by doing a brisk walk especially if you are a beginner. As your fitness level increases you will eventually be able to level up from a walk to a steady jog without having to come out of the fat-burning zone.
- Ensure that you keep your pace moderate enough to remain in your target heart rate zone.
Regardless of where you work out, either in the gym, at home or in a park, try this routine for maximum fat burning results;
- Do three sets of cardio exercises for an equal amount of time(for instance 10 minutes on the rowing machine, 10 minutes on the treadmill, and 10 minutes on the elliptical)
- Workout for between 3 to 5 times every week, you can switch out different types of cardio exercises.
The fat-burning zone is excellent for helping you to get rid of fat at a much faster rate. However, you still need to work out with more discipline and optimal consistency in order to see reasonable results. There you have it; that’s how you target your heart rate to burn calories and get into that fat-burning zone.
Note: If you have a heart condition or underlying cardiovascular issues, consult your doctor before trying this method.