T Nation

Fat Burning Zone


anyone got a good way to figure out ur fat burning zone? ive always been a bit confusd on this... i usually just stay around 127...


You should be using fat as the primary source of energy at 127, but it will not be the fastest way of dropping it. The body is much more complex than that, and the overall energy used is more important if trying to lose weight. Imo going for the highest rate for the longest time you can(intevals or whatever) is more effective, and that will also improve your circulatory system, which a rate of 127 propably will not.

Also it is suggested that long cardio sessions with low intensity will have a bad effect on muscle growth.

What are your goals with these cardio sessions?


well, im still bulking and trying to get stronger so i dont wanna do too much cardio.. its really hard for me to gain weight and strength so i stopped cardio completely and saw big improvements, but u gotta do some cardio for numerous reasons so im doin like 20 min 2-3 times a week and i try not to go over the fat bruning zone cuz i dont wanna burn too many calories..


You could try and shorten the sessions to 10 min and increase intensity. Imo you just get more bang for your buck with high intensity cardio, compared to longer low intensity sessions.

I think the topic of resistance work + cardio has been discussed a lot, so maybe you can find one of those threads, as my knowledge in this area is lacking to say the least :slight_smile:


ok, thanks.. il check it out.. i remeber a routine i did a few years ago where i would do cardio for 15 min as intense as i could (pretty much sprinting the entire time) did work pretty well while i was building mass.. maybe il go back to that..


ok well maybe not sprinting for 15 min straight but intense running... haha


Didn't read the other replies.

You're in your "fat burning" zone any time you are in an aerobic state, which you are right now.

the whole "fat'burning" zone is a stupid illogical thought process that some idiot coined the term for.

I can elaborate, but I really don't want to, lol


Yep, what Jfit said and I agree, you don't want to get into it. Basically you want to get into your heart rate reserve zone not your "fat" burning zone. Use this formula to figure out where that is.

220-age= X
(X)x .55= low end of HRR
(X)x .85= high end of HRR

Stay in this zone for 20-30 minutes you'll burn fat. Good luck.


even that formula is a little outdated, but yeah, on the right track


You know, I know that you know that this is information widely disseminated, including from experts, and know you are not presenting it as your own opinion.

However as personal opinion I think it's silly and really wonder how validated, if at all, it actually is.

It certainly seems to assume great decrepitude with added years.

For example, I am 46, so I tried the formula with that:

X = 174
.85 X = 148
.55 X = 96

Now really, it is a reasonable and sensible lower limit for me to consider satisfactory and productive a mere 96?

Is a 46 year old necessarily THAT decrepit?

I am not.


I stay around 170+ (I'm 21) for a half hour to 45 minutes. My results are pretty good, haven't cannibalized what little muscle I have, steadily dropping fat.

Edit: Every day thing.


Don't want to change the subject or hijack the thread or anything but I have a related
question. What if your resting heart rate is abnormally hi or lo? Do you make an adjustment for that? For instance, my
resting heart rate is about 55 so would that
make my fat burning zone lower than if it was 71?


That means cardiovascularly you're in good shape, you should be pushing your cardio harder then. That's just the way I see it though, no science behind that.


That formula is really quite useless. It's supposed to yield an approximate max heart rate but it is so far off so often that it's not even worth it. According to that my max heart rate is 185 when in reality it is closer to 225. If I followed the guidelines around that number I wouldn't be able to break a sweat.

Max heart rate can vary as much as 80 bpm (or more) among people with the same fitness level. It really doesn't tell you anything if you don't have the right number. In order to get the right number, you need to do a stress test which is not recommended without a doctor present.

Just work at a pace that feels good and forget about all the target heart rate nonsense. I swear all it does it tell people to not work hard enough and make them panic when they raise their heart rate.

Your resting heart has no bearing on your max heart rate and your 'zones' are calculated on percentages of your max. Abnormally low is only abnormal if you're getting dizzy spells.


Good answers. Thanks. I have recently been doing sprints, tabatas, etc anyway. They definitely get my heart rate up there.
I had just always wondered about the "target" zones and you've confirmed my suspicions that the way it's normally presented is far from an exact science.


thanks for all the info guys! yea i guess il just stick to what feels about right...


In my opinion sprints > all when it comes to training for burning fat, but that's just me. And I'm not just talking about running fast, I'm talking about running so fast if you fell, you would do 5 flips and break your face open. On another note, nutrition > all when taking all of your tools into consideration.


I only know what I've learned in school. Agreed it's not the most accurate method but I didn't want to go into the Karvonan(sp) formula, the short version seemed like much less to type, oops. Just trying to help.


I'm gonna go with Da Vinci on this one. Sprints are great for getting your heart rate up there fast. I like to do 40-50 yard sprints, then rest for a few minutes. Try 5-6 of these and not only will u get the cardio from doin them. You will work some muscle fibers in your legs that will say "WTF". Give them a try..They are actually kind of


right track to what?