Fit Life

Heart Rate Training for Fat Loss

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So ignore the fact that this picture is semi blurry.  It’s a lot harder than you think to back up enough to capture this while the treadmill is moving and at that steep of an incline!  Could I have stepped off to take the picture?  Of coarse, but that would’ve been way too easy.  I was about an inch away from completely eating it!

I was first introduced to heart rate training years ago while taking cycling classes.  We all had our Polar heart rate monitors on and the instructor would tell you where your heart rate should be so you would know whether you were training at too high or low of an intensity.  I liked that it took the guess work out of it, but I was seeing absolutely NO results!  What I had learned was I was getting huge results cardiovascular-wise, but nothing for my waistline.  So I adapted this method to my slow cardio.

I don’t do slow cardio all the time, I actually switch between that and HIIT (high intensity interval training) depending on what my goals are.  HIIT is great because it is a quicker workout and you really feel like you got your butt kicked.  Another perk is that you can do it anywhere which is perfect for someone with limited gym access.  Slow cardio is what I use to really help target train my butt.  I have those Polish genetics that blessed me with a larger rear, hips and thighs, which is great, except that’s where the majority of my fat is also stored.  You will hear it all the time, “you can’t spot reduce!”  True, but the extra time on the stair master or incline treadmill at a slow hard pace help shape the areas a bit more AND as I said that’s where the majority of MY fat is so it does make a big difference.  It takes a lot of work to keep my butt lifted up and not saggy!


By keeping my heart rate in a “fat loss zone” instead of an aerobic one, I am burning a higher percentage of fat calories vs. glycogen (stored carbohydrates) calories.  Really I could write a lot on the subject, but I think all you will hear is blah, blah, blah, science talk, explaining why I feel it is more beneficial.  This is controversial and there is science to back both regular cardio and slow “fat zone” cardio, but I will tell you what, the butt doesn’t lie!  I have been a cardio queen and then a lifter.  When I was running and biking all the time I was 125 lbs, 28% body fat.  I switched to lifting, HIIT and slow cardio and now compete at 125 lbs., 11% body fat.  I’m spending a whole heck of a lot less time doing it too!  Moral of the story, stop spending hours on the cardio machines unless you are an endurance athlete.  Circuit training, interval training and short bouts of slow cardio are more than enough.

How do you heart rate train? 

First you find your max heart rate which is 220 – your age.  Then, you want to keep your heart rate between 60-70% of that number, so you multiply your max heart rate by .6 and .7 to find those numbers.

Ex. with my age:  220-28= 192 (max heart rate)  192(.6)= 115.2 & 192(.7)=  134.4  so my heart rate should be between 115 and 134 bpm for maximum fat loss.

I then take to my cardio equipment and get to work.  I either wear my Polar belt which automatically syncs with the machine or I periodically grab on and let the machine read it for me.  I say periodically because I don’t hold onto the machines, it makes the workout easier and changes your posture, thereby changing the exact muscles being targeted.  I stick to the stair master/ step machine and treadmill for this workout.  For the stair master I just change the speed based on my heart rate which I do keep more around 130bmp rather than 115.

On the treadmill I start at 1% incline and 3.4 mph for the first few minutes.  When I feel warmed up I increase the incline by 1% every 30 seconds until I reach 15% incline.  Usually by this point I am all the way down to 2.8mph to keep my heart rate where it needs to be.  When there are about 5 minutes left to your session, decrease the incline every 15 seconds or so the same way you went up.  I do this because otherwise my calves cramp up a bit.  I do this for 30 minutes a session until I am closer to competing, then I might add an extra 15 minutes.

Let’s face it, machines suck, but when the weather doesn’t permit me to rollerblade, this it the best I can do!  It shapes your legs and butt in such an amazing way and burns fat at the same time. WIN-WIN!  Like I said, this has always worked for ME and it’s what I recommend to my clients.  There are plenty of people who lose fat with the standard method of cardio, I just feel like this is a faster and more efficient method to build and lose all at the same time!



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