To use fat for energy efficiently you must exercise aerobically (with oxygen). There are a few ways used to determine the target heart rate/fat-burning zone. One is a calculated-age method, in which you take the number 220, subtract your age, and multiply that number by 70 percent. However, this method is not accurate because not everyone is in the same physical condition. Some may find that working out by this method will be very easy, while others may find it extremely difficult.
I currently use a method that seems to be gaining popularity. The key is physical exertion during exercise. As stated before you must exercise aerobically so your body can utilize fat for energy. Let's say you are riding the stationary bike, and a friend comes over and talks with you. If you are easily able to carry on a conversation, then you are not working out hard enough. On the other hand if you gasp for air during the conversation and/or the air you breathe in causes your chest to hurt, then chances are you are working out too hard for optimal fat loss. Work at a pace so that you can speak 8-10 words all in one breath without gasping for air. Once you have determined that you are exercising at the correct pace and intensity, check your heart rate with the use of a heart rate monitor. Whatever the heart rate monitor reads, this will be your target heart rate for the next 14 sessions.
After 14 sessions, you must reevaluate your target heart rate due to your body's progression in physical condition. If you are a beginner your muscles may start to ache and/or burn during exercise, although your breathing is fine. This is normal and your muscles will adapt within a few days. Until then you must stop the exercise for a couple of minutes and then restart. Eventually you will be able to work at a pace just short of muscle burn (referred to as anaerobic threshold) and at a pace that you can breathe as stated. Doing both is ideal for maximum benefits in fat loss. Beginners will see good results in fat loss; however, as your condition progresses, you will be able to go nonstop in your fat-burning sessions and see far better results.
I also want to point out that as your physical condition improves it will be more difficult to obtain a higher heart rate even though you workout at a fairly steady pace and follow the breathing guidelines outlined above. For example, let's say you reach your workout zone based on your breathing and your heart rate is 130bpm. Then in 30 days you're working out the same way, but this time your heart rate is only 115bpm. This is why it's important to go by how hard you are breathing during exercise because as your physical condition improves, your heart will become more efficient as well and won't have to beat as many beats per minute during your workout. So, what does all this mean? It means that your target heart rate could actually decrease as your physical condition improves. That's why it's so important to base your workouts on how hard you are breathing instead of heart rate alone.
Also, if you will be using the technique above you should do your workouts first thing in the morning before eating. If you plan on working out in the afternoon or evening, then it would be better for you to follow an interval style of training if your primary goal is to lose weight.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving your cardiovascular system and covering everything here would be too overwhelming. If you are really interested in obtaining optimal results for whatever fitness goals you may have, I can help you and take all the guesswork out of everything and show you exactly what to do. Become a member today and start seeing results you can live with for the rest of your life.