Finding Your Personal Heart Rate Zone for Burning Fat

Finding Your Personal Heart Rate Zone for Burning Fat

Better Fitness Daily

There is a deep, dark, mysterious exercise secret that personal trainers and fitness pioneers have struggled for decades to hunt down. Like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and goose that laid the golden egg, the one who discovers this elusive secret will go down in infamy and live eternally glorified in exercise manuals everywhere. Knowing your target heart rate helps you pace your workouts accordingly, to avoid burning out, or wasting time by exercising at a level of intensity that is too low.

The secret is “Finding the Maximum Target Heart Rate Zone for Burning Fat” and by the time you finish this article, you’ll know the best way to discover your personal fat-burning zone, and exactly how to use it.

How to Find Your Target Heart Rate Zone

If you want to use your heart rate to help you exercise safely or properly, you’ll first need to figure out your heart rate zones. Though you might be tempted to use a heart rate zone chart like the ones that appear on gym walls and cardio equipment instructions which lets you approximate a target heart rate zone for exercise based on your age, it’s important to realize these charts that were derived in 1970 and after two decades of research considered to be a poor predictor of maximum heart rate.

A better way would be to simply do a submaximal test.

The Best Way to Find Your Target Heart Rate Zone

In most individuals, the fat-burning zone occurs at 45-65% of the maximum heart rate, and that is the typical calculation used by personal trainers. They’ll take the number 220, and subtract your age to find your maximum heart rate, then take 45-65% of that number to find your maximum fat-burning zone.

But this number is highly variable and tends to be erroneous, primarily because the maximum heart rate is highly variable. So here is your quick and dirty tip for finding your personalized fat-burning zone far more accurately:

  1. Warm up on a bike for 10 minutes.
  2. Pedal at your maximum sustainable pace for 20 minutes. You should be breathing hard and your legs should be burning, but you should be able to maintain the same intensity for the full 20 minutes.
  3. Record your average heart rate during those 20 minutes.
  4. Subtract 20 beats from that heart rate. Add and subtract 3 beats from the resulting number to get a range, and that is your peak fat burning zone.

For example, if your average heart rate was 160, 160-20 is 140, 140+3 is 143, 140-3 is 137, and so your peak fat burning zone is when you have a heart rate of 137-143 beats per minute

To discover three quick methods to measure your heart rate while doing exercise, or if you want to get the most bang for the buck, research shows that both cardio intervals and resistance training help you lose weight faster than exercise in your peak fat-burning zone, visit my website at

Tip – Many people use the HIIT (high intensity interval training ) philosophy – which is get your heart rate up into its hard zone for a minute or 2 then back down to low/ mod zone for a few minutes then increase it again.  This interval intensity helps increase your calorie burn for several hours after working out. (See examples at

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