When it comes to exercise, fitness gadgets often display heart-rate zones that reflect different workout intensities. The fat-burning zone, for instance, is often billed as the setting where you’ll burn more body fat than glycogen.
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But despite the label, the truth is that not all calorie burning occurs at the same rate. And that’s why it’s important to key into your personal fat-burning zone to achieve results.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The best cardio heart rate for weight loss is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This type of workout combines short intervals of intense exercise with brief rest periods.
HIIT has been shown to improve several measures of cardiovascular fitness, including VO2 max and anaerobic threshold. It has also been proven to burn more calories in a shorter time than steady-state cardio.
However, it should be noted that HIIT is taxing on the body, especially when using higher-impact modalities like running. This is why it is recommended that HIIT be performed at least twice a week for effective fat loss.
Aside from improving your overall health, HIIT can help you lose more weight than a longer-lasting moderate-intensity workout. It can also boost metabolism after you finish your workout, a phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT)
HIIT workouts are known for their efficiency and effectiveness for burning calories, boosting metabolism and improving cardio fitness. But there’s a less vigorous version that’s getting a lot of attention, too: Low-Intensity Interval Training (LIIT).
This type of workout combines elements of HIIT with traditional endurance training such as walking and running. It requires a longer time to complete than HIIT but can produce similar results.
LIIT involves medium-length bouts of moderate intensity with shorter periods of recovery. This approach is easier on the body and improves strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility, says Borsellino.
You can do a LIIT workout on household gym machines, such as the elliptical or treadmill. Or you can use weights, such as a barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells.
Keep in mind that you should use a heart rate monitor to check your maximum heart rate while doing a LIIT session. The hard intervals should feel like a jogging or light running effort, and the recovery efforts should feel like a brisk walk.
Moderate-Intensity Interval Training (MIIT)
When it comes to cardio and weight loss, finding the right heart rate zone is crucial. When you’re in a “fat-burning” heart rate zone, your body shifts from burning carbs as fuel to using fat for energy.
NASM-certified personal trainer Anthony Baugh says that your target heart rate zone should fall between 55 and 80% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). Once you determine what your ideal heart rate range is, you can then figure out physical activities to stay in that fat-burning zone while also shedding calories.
MIIT is an effective method for breaking up the bore factor of lengthy cardio sessions. It involves a series of short work intervals at 75 to 85 percent MHR that are separated by long periods of rest.
Resting Heart Rate
When you’re working out, checking your heart rate is a great way to gauge your progress and feel confident about the workout. But if you’re just sitting at home, it can feel like something that doesn’t have much meaning.
Resting heart rate, also called a pulse, is how many times your heart beats per minute when you’re completely at rest. It’s usually between 60 and 100 bpm, but can vary from person to person.
Your resting heart rate can be influenced by several factors, including age and weight. It may also be affected by temperature, emotions, or if you’re exposed to caffeine and alcohol.
If your resting heart rate is higher than normal, you should seek medical attention immediately. A higher resting heart rate can lead to a higher risk of heart disease or death.