If you took a poll of why most people workout on cardio equipment, 90% or more will tell you they want to lose weight or tone up (which you have to lose fat to tone up). So out of those people how many to you think heart rate train? Not many, some know what their heart rate is, but don’t know where it should really be. So that is not helping them achieve their fat loss goal in the most efficient way possible. If I asked you if you wanted to lose 400 fat calories out of 600 calories burned in an hour workout versus losing only 150 fat calories out of 800 total calories burned in an hour; which would you choose?! Hands down you would pick 400! Well then why aren’t people doing this during their workouts? It is because they do not heart rate train. All your top athlete’s heart rate train and that is because they work with exercise physiologists which know how to get them to reach their top potential in the shortest amount of time possible.
You are probably asking yourself what is heart rate training? Well it is simply using your heart rate zones to monitor your workout. Your body has 5 heart rate zones. I will describe them later on. In order to heart rate train you first need a heart rate monitor. For a good basic one you will pay between $40-150. You can expect to pay up to $400+ for more advanced heart rate monitors that are used for performance training such as triathlons or marathons. But for the general population we don’t need anything too fancy. 2nd you need to find out where your heart rate should be. The heart rate charts you see on the exercise equipment are not correct most of the time (example 220-your age). As a fitness professional I can tell you that the chart is obsolete and needs to be improved. Instead you need to find your Anaerobic Threshold (the point in which your body stops burning fat and starts burning glucose). This is extremely important if you are trying to lose body fat, because you could be training too hard. Just because the treadmill says you burned 800 calories doesn’t mean you burned 800 fat calories. Let me get one thing straight you can’t burn just fat calories your body burns glucose also, but you can train to where you are burning the most amount of fat calories possible in that time frame.
This best and most accurate way to test your heart rate is by getting a Vo2 max test done. This can cost around $100-250. For zero cost I can get you close to your actually anaerobic threshold hold using a formula or a self perceived test. The formula is as follows: 180-your age. Take that number and add 10 if you exercise 4+ times a week for the last few years, the number stays the same if you exercise 2-3 times a week for the past year, and you subtract 10 if you have not been exercising. For the self perceived test: Hop on a treadmill and warm up for 3-5 minutes then go up to a comfortable speed for 5 more minutes then go up in speed every minute until you reach the point of heavy breathing. At this point make note of what your heart rate is and this is your Anaerobic Threshold. As I mentioned earlier you have 5 heart rate zones.
Zone 1 = Warm-up/Easy
Zone 2 = Aerobic Development/Medium
Zone 3 = Aerobic Development/Hard (the top of this zone is your Anaerobic Threshold)
Zone 4 = Anaerobic Endurance/ Very hard
Zone 5 = Speed & Power/Extremely Hard (You can usually only stay in this zone for 30sec-1min at a time)
Example of the Zone Chart
|Zones||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate||Heart Rate|
Also, the more cardiovascularly fit you get, the higher your anaerobic threshold gets. So I would recommend testing your Anaerobic Threshold every 6-8 weeks. To burn the largest amount of fat calories, work out in zones 2-3 for the majority of your work outs. To move your Anaerobic Threshold up and improve cardiovascular endurance, train in zones 4-5 once or twice a week. If you train in zones 4-5 more that twice a week I would recommend taking a rest day or an active rest day which means working out in zones 1-2. Now that you have the tools to work out more effectively let’s get moving!