Fat Burning Cardio & Heart Rate Levels

by October 31, 2012

A lot of people do cardio workouts in order to burn fat, and there is a lot of conflicting information in the fitness world about how intense workouts should be, in order to burn the most fat. One way to measure workout intensity is to measure heart rate. By finding the exercise intensity and heart rate level that fits your goals and comfort level the best, you can get the most out of your workout.

Low-intensity workouts burn a higher percentage of fat than higher intensity workouts, but higher intensity workouts burn more fat overall. To put it another way, low-intensity workouts are more geared towards “fat-burning,” but high intensity workouts burn so many more calories that more fat ends up getting burned in the end. That’s where personal preference comes into play – would you rather do a low-intensity workout for an hour and a half or a high intensity workout for forty-five minutes? Additionally, the different intensities have different health benefits. High intensity activities help improves cardiovascular health, whereas low intensity exercise may be gentler on joints.

How To Determine Your Heart Rate Level

One way of measuring the intensity of your workout is to measure your heart rate. First, calculate your maximum heart rate. To do this, take 220 and subtract your age. If you are 25, your maximum heart rate is 195. Exercise intensity is measured based on how fast your heart is beating relative to your maximum heart rate.

  • Low intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 40% to 50% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Medium intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
  • High intensity means your heart rate during exercise is 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

Use Heart Rate levels During High Intensity/Low Impact Cardio

The best way to utilize intensity rankings is to determine your target heart rate. Let’s say you want to have a medium intensity workout, and your maximum heart rate is 195. To get your target heart rate, take 60% of 195 (0.60 x 195 = 117). Your target heart rate would be 117. To check, stop during exercise for a second and count the number of times your heart beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6, and if it is close to your target, you are doing a medium intensity workout!

As mentioned above, all levels of intensity will burn fat, but the most fat is burned during a high intensity workout. It is always best to switch things up, plan on doing a couple of high intensity workouts a week with low intensity work outs scattered between. A quality heart rate monitor might be a good investment for those interested in heart rate and intensity levels.

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