This article will give you insights on how to effectively use target heart rate for weight loss. Target heart rate for weight loss applies mainly to cardiovascular exercises.
Cardiovascular exercises compliment strength training and this is where you can use a definitive method such as target heart rate for weight loss to maximize fat loss. With the information provided here, you could use target heart rate for weight loss to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your cardiovascular exercises.
Table of Contents for Article
- 1 Target heart rate for weight loss applies to cardiovascular exercises
- 2 Understanding target heart rate for weight loss
- 3 Understanding heart rate zones
- 4 Calculating target heart rate for weight loss
- 5 Which is the best heart rate zone for burning fat
- 6 How to effectively use target heart rate for weight loss
- 7 How to use target heart rate for weight loss if you are not able to get into the anaerobic zone
- 8 Intensity is the key to sustainable weight loss
Target heart rate for weight loss applies to cardiovascular exercises
Target heart rate for weight loss does not apply so much to strength training. Target heart rate for weight loss applies mainly to cardiovascular exercises. When it comes to strength training, intensity is measured by how much weight you are carrying, how many repetitions you are carrying this weight and what rest intervals you have. Target heart rate for weight loss is most suitable for cardiovascular type exercises such as running or cycling.
Understanding target heart rate for weight loss
When you do cardio exercises, your heart rate will increase. The increase in heart rate is usually proportional to the intensity of the cardio exercise. Your maximum heart rate can be determined by the simple formula of (220 – your current age). So if your age is 40, your maximum heart rate should theoretically be 180.
Researchers have grouped heart rate zones. The picture on the right is the typical heart rate chart that you may have seen in gyms. Your body behaves very differently in each of these heart rate zones. Typically, the zones are categorized as follows;
- Moderate activity zone (i.e. Warming up and very easy to do) – 50% to 60% of maximum heart rate
- Aerobic Zone 1 (Endurance and strength training zone. Most people are exercising in this zone) – 60 to 70% of maximum heart rate
- Aerobic Zone 2 (Endurance and strength training zone. Tougher effort and not many people exercise in this zone) – 70 to 80% of maximum heart rate
- Anaerobic Zone 1 (Tough effort and below the lactic acid threshold. Mainly used by athletes. Can also be achieved via HIIT ) – 80 to 85% of maximum heart rate
- Anaerobic Zone 2 (Very tough effort. Mainly used by athletes. Can also be achieved via HIIT exercise) – 85% to 90% of maximum heart rate
- VO2 Max Zone (maximal effort zone and not achievable by someone untrained) – 90 to 100% of maximum heart rate
Target heart rate relates to the zone you want to be in
Target heart rate is really a zone within which you want your heart rate to be in during a cardiovascular exercise session. You can determine the zone by assessing your maximal heart rate and then doing a rough calculation to assess the heart range zone that you want to be within. By that definition, the target heart rate for weight loss is the zone in which your exercise efforts will give you the most amount of fat loss.
The most effective way of measuring heart rate is by using a heart rate monitor. This is a device that you can wrap around your chest and it sends signals to the hear rate the monitor that is worn on the wrist. If you are serious about using target heart rate for weight loss, you need to seriously consider getting such a gadget.
You could also alternatively measure your pulse at various points of your body but you can only do this at the end of an exercise. Without a heart rate monitor, you will not be able to use the heart rate data effectively. Consequently, you will not be able to assess if you are making progress in your fat loss efforts.
Calculating target heart rate for weight loss
Example of someone aged 40 who has a resting heart rate (HRrest) of 65. He is just starting to exercise and wants to exercise at an intensity of 65%.
As such, (HRmax) = 220 – 40 = 180
Method 1 – Simplistic Method
Target heart rate for weight loss = 180 x 65% = 117 beats per minute
Method 2 – Karvonen Method
This method may have an increased level of accuracy as it also considers your resting heart rate (HRrest). This is probably the better formula to use. You can determine (HRrest) by measuring your heart rate first thing in the morning.
Target Heart Rate for Weight Loss = [(HRmax − HRrest) × % intensity] + HRrest
Target Heart Rate for Weight Loss = [(180 – 65) x 65% ] + 65 = 140 beats per minute
Download the target heart rate calculator in excel format.
Which is the best heart rate zone for burning fat
When it comes to cardiovascular exercises, the best exercise for weight loss lies in the anaerobic range (i.e. 80% and above of maximum heart rate). This is where you get the most returns for your exercise effort. With adequate training, most people can build up their fitness levels to eventually be able to exercise in the anaerobic range. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that is most often used to bring the heart rate up into the anaerobic zone. This is an amazingly effective and efficient exercise. It is efficient because it can be done within a very short period. A typical HIIT session would not take more than 20 minutes.
Read more about high intensity interval training exercises in the following resources;
- HIIT – A time effective and time efficient exercise
- Heart research shows the benefits of interval training
- 10 minute exercises done 3 times a week to reduce heart disease risk
- High intensity interval training as an effective exercise for high blood pressure
- High intensity interval training that can be done by everyone
Why anaerobic exercises such as HIIT are so effective for burning fat
HIIT is so effective because it creates excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC which gives your metabolism a tremendous boost even after the exercise session is long over. Exercising in the anaerobic zone also causes the body to release potent fat burning hormones such as the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) as found in one study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1992. HGH is released as you exercise near or beyond the lactic acid threshold. This occurs above approximately 85% of maximum heart rate.
What is EPOC and why it is useful for fat loss
As mentioned, EPOC is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Some people call this afterburn. The act of exercising creates an oxygen debt. The oxygen debt is more pronounced with anaerobic exercises at 80% of maximum heart rate and above.
The body repays this oxygen debt by consuming more oxygen post-exercise. There is a lot of imbalance in the body after an exercise session, especially if done in the anaerobic zone. The body needs more oxygen to enable it to undergo hormonal balancing, replenish muscular fuel stores, carry out necessary repairs at the cellular level as well as repair muscular damage that may have occurred. The American College of Sports Medicine describes the oxygen debt as payback for the body to undergo recovery after anaerobic exercise.
The effects of EPOC result in a metabolic boost. The metabolism can stay raised for up to 24 hours after the exercise bout. The EPOC effect is greater in anaerobic exercises as compared to aerobic exercises.
How to effectively use target heart rate for weight loss
The key to getting effective weight loss from cardiovascular exercises is by consistently increasing intensity. Cardiovascular exercises lose value for fat loss if you are not consistently increasing intensity. Read related articles about the ineffectiveness of cardio exercises when intensity is not consistently increased;
This is where target heart rate for weight loss comes into the picture. It gives you a systematic approach to measure intensity of your cardiovascular workouts. If you have never exercised before, just focus on getting your heart rate up 60% of maximum heart rate. You could start by just doing brisk walks.
The body will very quickly adapt to this exercise. Within a short period, you will need to walk faster or further to maintain 60% heart rate. Not long after that, you will feel comfortable pushing your intensity higher and your heart rate may reach 65%. At this point you may have to start jogging. As you continue to increase intensity, you will realize that you will be able to push your heart rate even higher.
Eventually you will come to a point where conventional jogging or cycling is not able to boost your heart rate much more. This is where you will need to make the transition to High Intensity Interval Training. Some people also call this target heart rate for weight loss training because the heart rate is used as a yardstick to measure exercise progress.
Use target heart rate for weight loss to gradually move yourself into the anaerobic zone
HIIT exercises are not for the unfit or those who have never exercised. HIIT exercises put a serious strain on the body. It is for this reason that you get tremendous fat loss. An unfit person should give himself a 12 to 18 month target to move to HIITs. Target heart rate for weight loss can be effectively used for moving an unfit person into the anaerobic range within this period of 12 to 18 months.
How to make HIIT exercises safer
Interval training is extremely demanding on the body. This is especially so if you use intervals for running. A safer alternative would be to use a stationary bike. It does not deliver the same impact as running but it is a safer option for most people. As always, consult your doctor before starting any exercise.
How to use target heart rate for weight loss if you are not able to get into the anaerobic zone
Some people may not be fit enough to exercise in the anaerobic zone. Others may have issues such as joint pains or injuries that may be limiting their ability to exercises such as HIITs. In this case, you may need to consider using a less strenuous exercise.
As mentioned above, a stationary bike is always a good option to consider. Whatever cardiovascular exercise you use, always focus on increasing intensity. Use the target heart rate for weight loss as a measure to gauge progress. If your heart rate reduces after doing a few exercise sessions, its time to increase intensity or consider changing to another exercise.
Intensity is the key to sustainable weight loss
Always keep in mind to continuously increase the intensity of your cardiovascular exercise. This is where the effectiveness of target heart rate for weight loss comes into the picture. You can use target heart rate for weight loss as it helps tell whether you are consistently increasing intensity levels.