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Target Heart Rate to lose weight?


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Alright, I've been running thinking that the faster I go, the more calories I'll burn...

After reading a few things here I feel like an idiot...

I often check my heart rate at the peak of my running routine and it's REDLINED at 180-190. (I'm 22 years old)

I find pride in being able to finally run 90% of a mile (10% i use to warm up and get some blood flowing after I stretched first). I usually run between 5-7mph and usually have sweat pouring down my face (which i thought was a good indication of calories being burned!).

I've noticed an INCREDIBLE increase in my wind since the first day I started. But---my question is geared towards weight loss. I've fixed my diet so I should be cutting weight now regardless. But what should be target heart rate be at in order to maximize the burning of fatty tissues??
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My heart rate monitor tells me I burn more  percentage of fat in the lower zone 105 - 121 (I'm 47) If I work out in te low zone I'll burn 60 % fat if I work out in mod zone 122- 139 - its 50% and if I push it hard it is only 40% 140- 153.  Granted I'll burn more cals in the higher zone for the same time but less will be fat - but it is sorta a wash too though - I mean lets say I work out and burn 600 cals @ 40% fat = 240  but if I burn 300 cals in the low zone @ 60% will give me that same 240 of them fat. 

I mix up my routines I mean my heart rate monitor programs "targets" for me  Some workouts are 45 min in the low zone, some are 25 min in low, 20 in mod some days are 35 in the hard so right now my HRM has me doing 1:40 min in moderate zone 2:10 in light and 55 min in the hard zone a week.

Many people use the HIIT 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.

If you are looking to increase calories burn then what you are doing sounds right, but if you are looking to burn fat step it down a notch or 2 and mix up your routines.
#2  
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Hmm interesting point. Maybe after a run I'll hit the bike machine.
Yeah, during my never ending internet research on health and fitness I've recently come across two terminologies which may help you better understand how your body works when exercising.

The terms aerobic and anaerobic refer to the state of your body's metabolism (cellular reactions) when you're preforming physical activities.

Aerobic exercise uses your muscles at low or medium intensity for prolonged periods. Most forms of sports, work and  recreational activities include elements of aerobic fitness. Generally speaking, any activity which lasts less than 12 minutes is not fully aerobic.  When you're in the aerobic exercise stage of physical activity your fat stores are changed into glucose to feed your muscles.

Anaerobic exercise uses muscles at high intensity and a high rate of work for a short period of time. Examples are heavy weight lifting, sprinting or any rapid burst of enerty.  Anaerobic exercise helps us increase our muscle strength and stay ready for quick bursts of speed. Think of short and fast when you think of anaerobic exercise. When you're in the anaerobic stage of exercising your body uses the energy directly from your circulatory system, and doesn't touch the energy stored as fat.

That is why monitoring your heart rate is the key to finding out if you're burning fat and not direct energy. Because you build more muscle with anaerobic exercise it increases your metabolism more than aerobic exercise does so in the long run maybe the results would be the same...
#4  
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I simple test to determine if you're working out in the aerobic zone is maintaining a "conversational pace"...  You should be able to carry on a conversation with short sentences.  If you can't do this, you're entering or in your anaerobic zone.  Of course a heart rate monitor is the best way to measure how you're doing, but I've found them confusing so I just run by perceived exertion now.
Jwonder -Walmart sells a simple little HRM for about 35 and it doesn't have any bells or whisles just says what your heart rate is - it also doesn't use a strap just the wrist watch type thing.
#6  
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Thanks, dbackerfan.  I have one of the fancy Polar heartrate monitors, but the Walmart thing is good advice for others. 

I just find the whole max heart rate thing and zones to be frustrating.  I've realized that my heart rate runs high while exercising (it's low when I'm resting so it's not just a fitness thing), and I can't keep it in my target zone and still be running.  I've had friends who's active heart rates were so low that they can be sprinting and not get up to their target heart rate.  It seems to vary a lot from person to person, so I just don't think you can calculate your target zone and go with it.  I did the max heartrate testing on a treadmill once with my triathlon group and my "max" was very high (although I think my legs gave out on this before my lungs!).

That being said, unless you have a lot of running/working out experience to know where you're at, a heart rate monitor is a good guide.
#7  
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Even if my heart rate is in the high zone (I am 48 years old), I can still carry on conversations and don't feel any windedness, no matter how long I am there.  My low range would be 121 and high would be 147.  I can't seem to slow down enough to keep it in the low range. So, am I defeating the purpose of exercising to lose weight?  I have been exercising for a long time and it seems that I have to go for at least 90 minutes of cardio to see any results.  Also, how do I know if I am getting enough calories?  I was told to keep it around 1500 calories to lose, but is my exercise level having a negative affect on my weight loss?  Help! 
Fatstuff - I am 47 and my zones are 105 - 121 for low 122- 139 for moderate and 140 - 156 for hard zone.  I have to really work to get it in the 140 - zone and I can sometimes carry on a conversation while in that range.  Supposedly my max based on the 220 - age is 174 but I can get up to that and maintain it for 30 seconds sometimes.  Thats when I really feel it LOL!!!

The bare min cals a male should consume is 1500 calories.  Females is 1200.  My base calorie burn is about 1700 but I exercise daily and any calories I burn I eat and try to maintain a 500 a day deficit but weekends I usually go way over but I am able to maintain my weight.  You may not be eating enough and that is why you aren't losing the weight if you are working out alot.
#9  
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Okay.  I burn at least 1000 calories exercising each day.  I hit the gym 4-6 days a week and combine my cardio with weight training.  I am not hungry on the 1500 calories because I try to space my meals out during the day.  Because I burn the 1000 at exercise, does that mean I am really only consuming 500? 
#10  
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A couple of thoughts. The max heart rate rule [220 minus age] isn't very accurate. It's better then no rule but that's it. I've managed to get well above my alleged max and can routinely get close to it. Haven't blown up yet.

I think you're asking about the "fat burning" zone. If I understand it right the idea is in the zone you burn  a higher precentage of calories from fat then from other sources. What they don't tell you is the higher zones burn more total calories. So while you are burning a lower precentage you're burning more actual fat.

There is a rule of thumb [not saying to trust rules -)] to eat 10 to 13 calories per pound of body weight if you want to lose weight. Eat at the lower end if you have more to lose. At the higher end if you have less to lose.
#11  
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If  you're burning 1000 and eating only 1500 then I can almost assure you 100% that it's not enough. How much more depends on your size.
The calorie deficit between what it takes for you to "live" and what you add in exercise should not exceed 1000 calories a day for healthy loss - recommened is between 500- 750 a day - so if you are exercising and earning 1000 calories you need to eat more.
Hi Vex, here is how I use my Heart Rate Monitor. But I will pretend I am you, 'cause I am an old man, LOL.

Say my most efficient running workout is when I run a six minute mile. I would take what the HRM says and that number would be what my most efficient heart rate for running is. If it says 190, so be it. That is now my standard for reference. One day, I decide to run a mile in a hilly area instead of the track I usually go to. Now, since the mile is over hills instead of a track, will I still get an efficient work out with a six minute mile? IMO - no - what I would do is go by my HRM - as long as it gives me 190, it won't matter if I am doing a 9 minute mile because of the hills, the time is irrelevant, what my heart rate is doing is what's important.

My favorite thing is walking up hills. I found this one street in an exclusive area, it's a mile long and really steep. When I first started walking it, I would walk it at 125 beats per minute. Here it is  4+ months later and I walk it at 165+ beats per minute. When I first started, at 125 meats per minute I was walking REALLY slow, it was comical - like a snails pace - but I did it and I didn't hurt myself. IMO a HRM is a good reference to keep you from over exerting yourself. Without a HRM, I would have attempted to walk that hill at too fast a pace, and I would have tried too much too soon, I could not have made that hill without walking so slow, the HRM held me back. I walk that hill in 18 minutes now. Sometimes I forget my HRM but since I am familiar with that street, I simply walk at an 18 minute pace and I am ok. But if I choose to walk another street, I would need my HRM to get me to 165 beats per minute, whether the street is flat or hilly. Also, if I feel like crap when I am walking, but am not near 165 BPM, I know I am fatigued and need to take a break from my walking. It's a good tool.
#14  
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Can anyone tell me why a greater % of fat is burned at a lower exercise heart rate or direct me to the research paper?
Original Post by ravenlark:

Yeah, during my never ending internet research on health and fitness I've recently come across two terminologies which may help you better understand how your body works when exercising.

The terms aerobic and anaerobic refer to the state of your body's metabolism (cellular reactions) when you're preforming physical activities.

Aerobic exercise uses your muscles at low or medium intensity for prolonged periods. Most forms of sports, work and recreational activities include elements of aerobic fitness. Generally speaking, any activity which lasts less than 12 minutes is not fully aerobic. When you're in the aerobic exercise stage of physical activity your fat stores are changed into glucose to feed your muscles.

Anaerobic exercise uses muscles at high intensity and a high rate of work for a short period of time. Examples are heavy weight lifting, sprinting or any rapid burst of enerty. Anaerobic exercise helps us increase our muscle strength and stay ready for quick bursts of speed. Think of short and fast when you think of anaerobic exercise. When you're in the anaerobic stage of exercising your body uses the energy directly from your circulatory system, and doesn't touch the energy stored as fat.

That is why monitoring your heart rate is the key to finding out if you're burning fat and not direct energy. Because you build more muscle with anaerobic exercise it increases your metabolism more than aerobic exercise does so in the long run maybe the results would be the same...
TRYING TO MAKE THIS PLAIN AND SIMPLE FOR ME: SO, it is better-for fat burning to work out at a lower moderate pace for a (longer period of time), so my heart rate stays low. As compared to moving like a maniac and sweating like a pig with a higher heart rate? All as a goal to lose the fat off my body?  AND, THEREFORE IS WEIGHT TRAINING AND ANEROBIC EXERCISE?

 

This is the explanation from my physiology course: there are two sources of energy for your body: glucose (aka sugars) and fats.  Glucose is more easily accessed by your body but is used up relatively quickly.  Fats on the other hand take more effort to break down, but the energy source lasts much longer.  If you are doing an intense workout (ie your heart rate is way up) your body will first go to its quick energy source - glucose.  If you maintain this level of exertion and use up your glucose reserves (about 20 minutes), your body will switch over to its remaining energy reserve - fat. 

However, if you start at a lower intensity, your body first turns to fat as its energy source since it doesn't need a rapid burst of energy and assumes the activity will be long lasting.  This also keeps your body's glucose supply on hand if the body does need a rapid burst of energy - think about the evolutionary benefits of this, such as a long day of working versus potential need for fight or flight. 

Yeah, I second what mkm said, but if you want to lose weight, what really matters is calories burned, not whether a higher percentage comes from fat or glucose.

Think about it like this. Say you burn 100 calories of readily availible glucose from intense exercise. Your body will have to replace that glucose, pretty much as soon as possible. That glucose can be replaced either from fat being converted to glucose, or from your next meal. So instead of your next meal being stored as fat, it's being used to replenish the glucose.

Also, low intensities tend to burn a larger percentage of muscle too, in addition to fat.

"Also, low intensities tend to burn a larger percentage of muscle too, in addition to fat"

 

Is that still true if you are good about replacing protein (drinking a protein shake, eating carbs and protein soon after working out?) and doing resistance training?  My heart rate doesn't go much higher than 120-130 when I'm working really hard doing aerobics with calisthenics. I would like to think I'm mainly burning fat when I workout. 

To be honest, I'm not completely sure. I would say, as an educated guess, that by adding in resistance training you do offset to an extent the muscle loss done with the low intensity cardio. However, I know that during the time that you are actually working out (cardio or resistance training), your muscles are in a catabolic state, meaning that muscle is broken down. This is why most people will suggest that you keep your workouts short in duration, but high in intensity to try to get the benefits of the exercise, while minimizing the time you're muscles are in a catabolic state. So, long, steady state cardio alone without resistance training is a sure fire way to lose muscle as well as fat.

Also, I think there's a lot of varibility where these "zones" lie for individual people, and it depends a lot on your level of fitness. I think what is a more important number is your oxygen consumption, which is strongly correlated to heart rate. So if your heart is beating twice as fast you're probably consuming close to twice as much oxygen, but your level of fitness determines how much oxygen is consumed for each beat of the heart.

Hi!  I'm so confused and insecure about following the advice I'm hearing here.  It is hard to know what is right, in terms of specific exercise routines. 

I have resisted returning to a gym, where the routine is set for me, by the schedule for the day and those hulking machines, since I returned from an extended trip abroad.  I decided I wanted to be outdoors more, now that I've retired, and I want to avoid the gym "scene" by working out on my stability ball, weights and online/DVD workouts.   I've also been doing the Couch to 5K, and am up to week #6... which had me running two 10 min. runs with a short walk in between.  I felt so good when I finished.  After a rest (walk) day today, and some weightlifting in a little while, tomorrow they want me to run for 25 minutes.  I'm scared (my hips do ache a little, even though I did stretching and strengthening exercises when I got back last time), so I went online and researched "Interval" exercise and found another beginning running program with slow increments of running, at the most 5 min, with walking in between.  They don't run more than 5 min at a time until the 5K itself!!  They do 7 repeats of 5R and 1W, until the run itself.    I have a feeling, after reading what you've written above, that the difference is in the aerobic (the Couch to 5K?) vs. the anaerobic (interval). 

My goal is to lose weight and to develop stamina (cardiac strength?).  Yes, I will discuss this whole topic with my physician in a week or so...  Where does my experience and goals fit into your topic(s)?

Thank you for listening.

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