Your heart rate can help you gauge the intensity of your exercise. For most people, the heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute at rest. Heart rate increases during exercise. The more you exercise, the faster your heart rate increases. When you train in your fat-burning heart rate zone, your body draws on fat stores for energy instead of using basic sugars and carbohydrates. This leads to fat loss.
The heart rate types are:
- resting heart rate
- moderate heart rate
- target heart rate
- maximum heart rate
Your fat burning heart rate is about 70% of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the maximum number of times your heart should beat during an activity. To determine your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
For example, a 35-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate is 220 minus 35: or 185 beats per minute. To get into the fat burning zone, his heart rate would need to be 70% of 185, or about 130 beats per minute.
Calculation of other heart rate zones
Experts recommend working at 70-85% of your maximum heart rate during vigorous activity. This is called your target heart rate. A moderate heart rate is between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Fat Burner Heart Rate Chart
When using the following chart, keep in mind that the older you are, the lower your fat burning heart rate. For example, if you are 32 years old, you would use the higher number in the 31-35 range for your heart rate.
Certain medications can also affect your heart rate, so talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Age and estimated heart rate in beats per minute to burn fat
- 18–20 years old 140 beats/minute
- 21–25 136–139
- 26–30 133–136
- 31–35 129–132
- 36–40 126–129
- 41–45 122–125
- 46–50 119–122
- 51–55 115–118
- 56–60 112–115
- 61–65 108–111
- 66–70 105–108
- 71–75 101–104
Tools for measuring heart rate
There are a whole host of tools on the market today that can help you measure your heart rate during exercise, and even during daily tasks. That said, you don’t necessarily need a fancy tool to get your baseline heart rate.
The cheapest way to measure your heart rate is to use your fingers to track your pulse. You must first stop the exercise and place your finger on a pulse point located on your neck, wrist or chest.
Count your heartbeats for 60 seconds (or for 30 seconds and multiply the number of beats by two). The number you get is your heart rate.
Wrist-based heart rate monitors have become popular in recent years because they attach to the body like a normal watch. The advantage over traditional tracking is that your heart rate is continuously monitored and you don’t have to stop activity to record it.
Often, these types of devices also measure your daily steps, distance covered in your workouts, calories burned, and floors covered, while also telling you the time like a regular watch.
Choosing a Fat Burning Workout
The best workouts to get you into your fat burning zone vary from person to person. The key is to monitor your heart rate during different activities to see where you land and where you’re going from.
To burn fat, stick to moderate activity. If you’re unsure about the intensity of your work, try the talk test: If you can’t talk while you exercise, chances are you’re working at vigorous levels. If you’re slightly out of breath but can carry on a conversation, you’re probably working at a moderate level and may be in your fat burning zone.
Another way to determine your exercise intensity is based on your individual capacity. Moderate, fat-burning activity may seem like an 11 or 14 of your capacity on a scale of 1 to 20. If you start to feel more at 17 to 19, slow down, it’s more vigorous activity.
Here are some exercises that can help you hit your fat burning zone:
- slow jogging
- fast walk
- water aerobics
- tennis (doubles)
- ballroom dancing
Even if you’re focusing on fat, it’s important to raise your heart rate into the vigor zone from time to time. Working harder strengthens your cardiovascular system and burns more calories than moderate activity. Interval training, such as alternating periods of walking and running, is also an effective type of training that can help you lose fat and improve your cardiovascular fitness.