To lose weight effectively, you need to train at a specific heart rate. You have probably already heard about this and have seen the corresponding images and charts. They are often attached to treadmills.
As a trainer, I’m very skeptical about all of this. Why?
The Fat Burning Zone
It baffles me that many people fall for this silly trick called fat burning zone. The ignorant person thinks that if he run with a heart rate around 110-130 beats per minute (on some circuits up to 140 bpm), he will lose weight very quickly.
After all, that’s what it says in the chart!
Moreover, many people have the illusion that just running in the fat-burning zone for 30-40 minutes three times a week, and the rest of the time continuing to sit for 14 hours a day, eating as before, not solving a bunch of other problems, it will still help to lose weight.
Sorry, but I have to disappoint you!
What Do Heart Rate Zones Tell You?
Exercise zones don’t tell you anything about your workout results.
These zones tell you what energy mode your body is working in at any given heart rate – how many calories a person burns per minute and his primary muscles fuel during a given workout. There is nothing else!
And the final result of many workouts at given heart rate depends on a mass of other variables – the overall context of your life (dietary composition and calories, general lifestyle, use of various strength training methods, etc.).
You can run around in the fat-burning zone as much as you like, but if you do not lead a sensible lifestyle, do not follow the basic rules of nutrition, there will be no weight loss. After all, success in getting rid of extra pounds depends on:
✅ calorie consumption
✅ presence of the necessary vitamins and nutrients
✅ general health
✅ enough water supply
✅ metabolic rate
✅ activity during the day
And the fat-burning zone at the workout is just a drop in the ocean. But it will play a role if the above parameters are normal.
What Happens In The Body When You Run In The Fat-burning Zone?
When you run at a heart rate of 110-140 beats per minute for more than 20 minutes, fat becomes a primary energy source. And your metabolism does speed up. But only for the duration of the workout.
As soon as you end a running session, fat ceases to be the energy source, and metabolism immediately slows down. The body will quickly rebuild carbohydrate stores and switch back to them.
And the fat will start to accumulate again because now the body knows that it needs it for the next fat-burning run.
Funny how that works: by trying to burn fat, you are contributing to its accumulation in an increased mode.
That is why I urge you to treat the load zones that the Internet is full of the right way.
They have mainly theoretical value and protect your health from excessive loads, giving you a rough orientation to your minimum loads.
Some beginners and even experienced athletes feel real horror if their heart rate reaches 110-120 beats from loads. But at such heart rate, you can only warm-up. Workout starts with higher values.
What Is The Best Heart Rate For Burning Fat?
It depends on your fitness level.
The optimal heart rate is around 145-155 beats per minute – that is the so-called stroke volume heart rate. And it is the best heart rate for weight loss. But only if you follow other rules of weight normalization (in nutrition, lifestyle).
If you find it difficult to breathe at such pulse (shortness of breath, not enough air), train at lower values (110-120 or 130 bpm) until you get in better shape.
You can start with regular walking. And better in the fresh air. One hour a day is enough.
You can gradually increase walking to 1.5-2 hours a day. Try to breathe deeply and rhythmically, so there will be enough oxygen for the muscles.
The heart, like any other muscle, tends to develop. If you start small, you will get a good shape in a few weeks.
That will allow you to work out at a higher heart rate. All this will inevitably affect the health and weight loss in the best way.
So, if you are not athletic, make a habit of regular walks or other medium-intensity physical activity in the fresh air. At least 1 hour a day.
In any weather.
It’s very efficient after meals and particularly after dinner. Start such walks smoothly and slowly. But gradually increase the pace of movement.
The main sign of a proper heart rate for a beginner is breathing comfortably without shortness of breath.
If you start to run out of air, slow down your pace regardless of your heart rate. Breathing should be frequent and deep, but you shouldn’t feel a lack of oxygen.
For a beginner, especially with extra pounds, it is too early to focus on recommendations for experienced athletes.
It is a great idea to buy a gadget, helping you track your heart rate and other parameters while walking or doing other exercises (it is convenient, for example, to count the gradually increasing number of steps made during the day).
Buy it, learn how to use it, and let it become one of the symbols of your approaching transformation and renewal!