How to use your heart rate monitor for maximum fat burn.

So you’ve been religiously wearing your heart rate monitor during each workout, tracking your heart rate during various exercises, and even recording total calories burned. But do you know how to translate your results so you know if you’re exercising effectively to burn the most fat possible?

Mike Karpenko, our awesome group leader and on-site trainer has a wealth of knowledge on heart rate training, and he gave me some excellent info he got from fitness consultant Wini Linguvic. First, check out the four training zones, then learn how to determine your personal maximum heart rate.

Fitness/Fat-Burning Zone (Fat Burning)
(60–75% of maximum heart rate) Burns more calories than a healthy heart at rest. Optimal fat burning consists of working out at a moderate intensity level you can sustain for long periods of time. This trains your metabolism so your body releases more fat from your fat cells throughout the day.

Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training)
(70–80% of maximum heart rate) Improves your cardiovascular and respiratory system and increases the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you’re training for an endurance event. Your body burns more calories, 50% of them from fat.

High Intensity/Anaerobic Threshold Zone (Performance Training)
(80–90% of maximum heart rate) This is a high-intensity zone that burns more calories, around 15% of them from fat. You’ll benefit from an improved cardio respiratory system, fight fatigue better, and improve endurance. For optimal fat burning cardio, train at high intensities in short bursts of time (1–3 minutes each), recover, and repeat several times. This is the most efficient way to raise your metabolism and burn fat. You’ll burn 100% carbs as a source of energy during these bursts.

Red Line Zone (Maximum Effort)
(90–100% of maximum heart rate) Although this zone burns the most calories, it’s very intense and hard to maintain. Only train in this zone for short periods of time, and only if you’re in good shape and cleared by a physician.

Each zone has key aspects to overall fat burning. An optimal program consists of workouts in all zones each week. Each person’s heart rate will be different for each zone.

Calculate your estimated maximum heart rate with this formula:

Women, subtract your age from 226.
Men, subtract your age from 220.

This is your age-adjusted maximum heart rate

Now take your age-adjusted maximum heart rate and calculate the following percentages for the various parts of your workout.

60% for your warm-up and cool down
65–75% for your moderate pace
75–85% for your vigorous or interval pace

For instance, a 40-year-old woman’s estimated maximum heart rate is 186 (226 – 40 = 186).

60% of her max = 112
65% of her max = 121
75% of her max = 140
85% of her max = 158

Or, use the Team Beachbody heart rate calculator found here:

Now you’ve got the tools and the knowledge to kick some serious butt in your workouts and scorch the fat off your abs—fast!

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