NxJ’er asks: % Max HR to Burn Fat?

“We know that to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you take in.  But is there an x-factor, where if you get your heart rate high enough you can actually burn fat (not just calories) irrespective of calorie intake/burn?  If so, what % of your max heart rate do you have to hit and at what rate will you burn fat?”

Fat burning zones based solely on heart rate are only for warm ups and cool downs nowadays.  Interval training might exceed fat burning in the short-term, but fires deep into a muscle and has huge latent fat burning benefits.  So yes – in effect, you can burn more fat by hitting higher heart rates.  You can determine your max by subtracting your age from 220.

There is a way to train your body to “burn more fat.”  It starts with exercising differently (see above link on interval training).  There is a concept called “exercise afterburn,” i.e., excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).  This is the amount of calories expended even after the workout is over.  If you workout hard, you will reap greater return.  Recovery is also important – therefore remember there are benefits to recovery and cross-training.

There are some exercise programs that can maximize EPOC.  Nerijus and Corey like to use these varieties in their development of specific training programs.  Here are a few to try out:

Continuous Interval Training: Altenrating 3-minute bouts of low-intensity (30%-40% HR max) and high-intensity (60-80% HR max) exercise for a period of 30-60 minutes.

Heavy Resistance Training: 2-4 sets, 8-10 exercises, 3-8 reps at 80%-90% 1RM, 2- to 3-minute rest periods.

Circuit Resistance Training: 2-3 circuits, 6-10 exercises, 10-12 reps at 50% 1RM, 30-second rest periods.

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