When it comes to weight loss the first thing many people think about is that they have to do tons of cardio. Many people spend hour after hours counting the calories burned on their treadmill. Others are using a heart rate monitor to stay in their fat burning zone for hours hoping the fat will burn away. One of the number one questions I get is "I do 6 hours of cardio a week and can't lose a pound." With proper hear rate monitor training, a person can optimize their workout to raise their metabolism and burn more fat not just during your workout, but all day long.
To understand heart rate training, we first have to understand how our bodies produce energy. We have two major processes that produce energy within our bodies. First, our aerobic metabolism utilizes oxygen combined with carbs and fat to produce our long lasting energy and the energy you are using to read this article. Your second way you produce energy is anaerobically. Your anaerobic metabolism creates energy for short durations of intense activity. Your only source of energy for your anaerobic metabolism is carbohydrates in your blood stream or carbs stored in your muscle cells. So aerobic burns fat and carbs, and anaerobic burns carbs only.
Proper heart rate training has three distinct training zones each designed to challenge your metabolism to become faster and more efficient which leads to burning more fat. Most people only exercise in one of them. When we train in the same zone everyday our body adapts to that workout and we stop getting the weight loss and fat loss we are after. To optimize your fat burning results we want to do each zone's workout once a week.
To create your optimal fat burning heart rate zones we have to find your anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point at which your physical activity becomes so intense that your body is unable to produce enough energy aerobically. Your anaerobic metabolism kicks in to produce more energy to continue the activity. During intense cardio workouts both your aerobic and anaerobic metabolisms are producing energy to keep you moving. Online personal training website Liveleantoday.com utilizes a customized online profile to find your anaerobic threshold and create your fat burning heart rate zones. If you have the ability, the best test for your anaerobic threshold is a treadmill test where you are hooked up to an oxygen mask connected to a metabolic cart. The most common place to get this test done is at certain universities around the country.
Fat Burning Zone
The first zone (zone 1) for optimal fat burning cardio consists of working out at a moderate intensity level. You want to workout at an intensity that you can sustain for long periods of time, greater than 30 min. consistently. With training, it is good to work up to consistent cardiovascular exercise for 60 min. The goal in zone 1 is to train your body to burn fat efficiently. Don't be so concerned about how many calories you burn during the workout. A proper fat burning zone workout trains your metabolism to burn more fat by efficiently training your body to release more fat out of your fat cells all day long while you are not exercising.
Anaerobic Threshold Zone
For the second zone (zone 2), we want to train as close as we can to our anaerobic threshold. A measure to find this point is the highest constant heart rate you can sustain for 15-20 min. The goal of zone 2 is to train your aerobic metabolism to burn energy as fast as it can. Your metabolism then adapts and you burn more energy 24 hours a day. Zone two is the workout that I see that every exerciser skips. Most people either spend all their time in the easy zone 1 or do high intensity training all the time which we are going to talk about next. Working out at the moderately high intensity in zone 2 is essential to training our aerobic metabolism which is our major source of energy all day.
High Intensity Zone
The third zone for optimal fat burning cardio is training at high intensities (zone 3). Another name for this zone is interval training. Interval training is where we workout for short burst of time, 1-3 min., and then walk or rest for short bursts of time, and then repeat the high to low sequence again. Zone 3 workouts train your body to produce energy greater than it has ever done before for short durations of time. It is more important about the rate of burning energy than total calories. Which means the faster you go the more calories you burn in a short period of time the better. One key to interval training is you have to be able to repeat the same speed and heart rate for each interval. Often people train to hard for the first interval and though their heart rate goes up they slow their speed down with each interval. Zone 3 workouts are considered the most efficient way to raise your metabolism and burn more fat. You actually burn 100 carbs during the workout as a source of energy. People that do consistent interval training on a weekly basis burn more fat 24 hours a day, even on days they don't exercise.
Each zone has key aspects to your total fat burning program. An optimal program consists of workouts in all three zones each week. Every person's heart rate is going to be different for each zone. Liveleantoday.com uses it customized profile to create the individualized heart rate zones to optimize your fat burning workouts. Heart rate zones between people can vary by over 20 beats, so training at your friend's zone doesn't work. Start training at all three zones each week and start burning more fat 24 hours a day.
Short note about the author
Bryan Ashbaugh, MS Exercise and Sports Science is CEO of LIVE, llc of www.liveleantoday.com - visit the website for more information on weight loss, core fitness programs, optimal diets, and online personal trainer and dietician services.