Finding your personal fat burning zone will be easy with the help on this page.
You must know how to measure your heart rate for a few reasons.
Measuring your resting heart rate allows you to calculate your target heart rate zones for low, medium, and high intensity cardio sessions.
Then, you must know how to measure your heart rate during cardio in order to stay within those target heart rate zones.
In this section of the WLC site, you will learn everything you need to know about measuring your heart rate and calculating your target heart rate zones for your cardiovascular exercise sessions.
Let's get started…
Resting Heart Rate
The first thing we must go over is how to measure your resting heart rate. Most of you have surely measured your resting heart rate before.
If not, find your pulse first.
My favorite spot is right under the left side of my jaw bone on my neck. I use my right index finger to find the pulse while looking at my watch on my left hand.
Count the number of beats in a 15 second period. Multiply the number of beats in 15 seconds by 4. That is your approximate resting heart rate.
Resting Heart Rate = Number of beats in 60 seconds
For example, let's say you measure 17 beats in 15 seconds. 17 multiplied by 4 is 68 beats per minute. Calculate your resting heart rate now. Keep this number in mind, write it down, and keep it handy.
We will be using this in just a minute.
To get a more accurate reading, take the reading as soon as you wake up in the morning and take it for the entire 60 seconds. This provides greater accuracy. Now that you know your resting heart rate, we can move on to finding your target heart rate zones for your cardio sessions.
The average resting heart rate is around 72 beats per minute. If yours is much higher than this, you are going to really need to work hard on your cardiovascular exercise. One of your goals in your cardio program should be to lower your resting heart rate.
Maximum Heart Rate
The easiest way of determining your maximum heart rate is to use a formula that estimates it for you.
The only other way of determining your maximum heart rate is to perform stringent testing in a lab environment. Many people who have had heart problems have to go through this stringent testing.
Most of you do not have the time, money, or equipment for testing to determine your true maximum heart rate, so we'll just estimate your maximum heart rate using a formula.
Note that this formula is only an estimate and could easily be off by 10-20 beats per minute or more. For the majority of the population, though, this formula is fairly accurate. It's the easiest and best alternative we have to testing in a lab environment.
Maximum Heart Rate = 220 – Age
So, let's say you are 28 years old. Your maximum heart rate will be around 192 beats per minute. Simple calculation. Write down the result. Let's move on…
Heart Rate Reserve
Your heart rate reserve is simply a calculation determining the number of beats per minute you have in reserve between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate.
So, to calculate your heart rate reserve, simply subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
Heart Rate Reserve = Maximum Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate
To continue with our example, your maximum heart rate was 192 beats per minute and your resting heart rate was 68 beats per minute. Your heart rate reserve is 192 minus 68 equals 124 beats per minute. Write your result down.
The intensity range of your steady state cardio workouts will be in the 60% to 80% range for medium intensity cardio. Medium intensity cardio, as already discussed, will make up the majority of your cardiovascular workouts.
HIIT cardio workouts will use a different method of determining intensity. That will be discussed later in the HIIT cardio workout section.
For now, let's determine your target heart rate ranges for the different steady state cardio intensities: low, medium, and high.
|Low Intensity||Less Than 60%|
|Medium Intensity||60% – 80%|
|High Intensity||Greater Than 80%|
So, now you need your heart rate reserve that you calculated in the previous section. Remember what it was? In our example, your heart rate reserve was 124 beats per minute.
Let's multiply your heart rate reserve number by the percentages above so we can calculate your target heart rate zones in the next section.
Example for 124 beats per minute Heart Rate Reserve
Determine your Target Heart Rate Zones
Now that you have your results for each of the percentages above, you simply add those results to your resting heart rate to get your target heart rate zones. I will walk you through the example we've been using.
Don't worry… I've included calculators to make all of this easy for you.
Target Heart Rate = Desired Intensity Result + Resting Heart Rate
Let's say you want to do low intensity cardio at less than 60% intensity. Your result for that calculation was 74.4 beats per minute. Add that to your resting heart rate of 68 to get your target heart rate zone for low intensity cardio. Your result will be 74.4 plus 68 equals 142.4 beats per minute.
So, for low intensity cardio, you want to stay below 142 beats per minute. Let's look at a table calculating all of the intensity ranges for you.
Example Target Heart Rates for 124 Reserve Heart Rate and 68 Resting Heart Rate
Low Intensity is < 60%Target Heart Rate < 142 bpmMedium Intensity is between 60% and 80%Target Heart Rate = 142 to 167 bpmHigh Intensity is > 80%
Target Heart Rate > 167 bpm
So, if you wanted to stay at a medium intensity between 60 and 65 percent, you would set your target heart rate zone for your cardio workout to be 142 to 149.
You would monitor your heart rate throughout your cardio workout to ensure you are within your target heart rate zone.
Your medium intensity heart rate zone, in our example, would be 142 beats per minute to 167 beats per minute. As long as you stay within those ranges, you are doing medium intensity cardio and burning the maximum amount of fat in the shortest amount of time.
Don't worry about all of the calculations in this section. You will have easy calculators available to you that do all the calculations for you.
I simply wanted to walk you through an example to help you better understand the process of calculating target heart rate zones.