If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you’ve probably glimpsed the phrase “fat burning zone” while sweating your way through a treadmill session. This phrase, as well as other program buttons feature prominently on the dashboard of most cardio machines, and commonly evokes feelings of doom and despair among fitness enthusiasts.

What this program does is simple; it helps you attain the ideal heart rate to burn the most fat. In essence, it gets you into the fat burning zone. Studies have shown that maintaining your run at this particular heart rate helps you burn more fat than any other rates, thus shortening the time you need to get lean and ripped.

How Does It Work?

The fat burning zone works by a simple yet elegant principle. Scientists have find that there’s a range if heart rate intensity during which your body burns the most fat. This magical bpm has been calculated to lie between 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

It is important to differentiate this fat burning zone from your cardio zone. The fat burning zone is a lower-level cardio state that enables your body burn fat for energy, while the cardio zone is the state that burns glycogen for instant energy. In essence, when you’re carrying out high intensity exercises, your body sources its energy from its glycogen stores while lower intensity exercises burn fat to create energy.

Find Your Zone

Now, we’re about to drop some pretty intelligent stuff so it may be necessary to put on your smart hat. We all know that each person is unique and special in their own way, apparently uniqueness also extends to your ideal zones as the equation below will prove.

The formula is:

220 – (your age) x 0.6 or 0.8.

You can multiply by 0.6 to get the lower value of the ideal bpm you need to burn the most fat, while multiplying by 0.8 will give you the higher value of the ideal bpm. This works on the basis that these values will correlate to a 75 percent VO2 maximum which produces the highest fat oxidation rate. Bear in mind that the formula above can also be used to calculate your maximum heart rate (by subtracting your age from 220) as well as your fat burning zone (60 to 70 percent range of your MHR) as well as your cardio zone (in the 71-85 percent range).

Does it matter?

Well, if it didn’t we wouldn’t have spent so much time talking about it, would we? The thing about the more intricate workout exercises and theories is that they aren’t really made for novices trying to drop a couple of pounds. Caring about your maximum bpm and your fst burning zone is mostly applicable if you’re either a high level athlete or extremely into fitness.

For the more casual fitness enthusiast, it is probably better to focus more on caloric intake and output rather than keeping careful track of the exact bpm you work out at. If you’re new to fitness, or just want to lose weight, then focus on high intensity interval training and watching your caloric intake rather than spending your time and money tracking your bpm for minute changes.

Key Points

  1. Yes, there’s an ideal zone where your body is primed to burn more fat than glycogen. But this zone is ultimately of very little benefit of you aren’t a professional athlete or an experienced fitness trainer.
  2. You can calculate your maximum heart rate, and extrapolate the exact bpm where your body is primed to burn the most fat while preserving cardiac function, but again, not so neccessary if you’re a novice.
  3. The best exercises to include in your workout are a mixture of high intensity and moderate workout routines, supplemented by strength training exercises. This will help you achieve your fitness goals while avoiding burnout.