In spite of doing tons of cardio, weight lifting and resistance workouts, you are not getting the desired results. Why? Because you are not pushing your body with the right intensity. This is where understanding the target heart rate helps. Our heart is always pumping. Even at rest. That is the resting heart rate (RHR). Research has shown that certain heart rate regimes have a direct correlation to the kind of fuel that the body utilizes for energy.
But before you jump onto an exercise program it helps to understand your body fat profile. Every individual store body fat differently. There are skinny people who have too much invisible fat and there are big people who do not carry as much. It is very important that you first estimate your body fat percentage. You can also measure it directly using these innovative scales and hand-held devices for a more accurate estimate. You can also do it the old-fashioned way, which is equally accurate, but less expensive. There is also an easy-to-read digital version. Investing in one of these is sure to reap benefits with your overall regime. As a rough estimate, till your device arrives, try out our free Body Fat Percentage Calculator.
Also important to note is your resting heart rate (RHR). How do you measure that now? Welcome to the new age of wearable electronics. There are numerous bands, straps, and devices that can be used to estimate resting heart rate. Sure, some smartphones, have integrated heart rate monitors, but they cannot track your heart rate continuously. So, such estimate of your resting heart rate is possibly inaccurate. Invest in a dedicated heart rate monitor. Or, if your budget allows, invest in a good integrated band that measures more than the heart rate. But most importantly, get one with a screen to continuously track your heart rate. Merely recording you heart rate for offline viewing is unlikely to help.
In the Zone 1, the body is getting worked up, but at a very moderate intensity. In another words, this type of exercise is also known as Low Intensity Steady State (LISS). Naturally, it attempts to use the slowest burning fuel. You guessed that right. It uses your reserves of fat to take it through a long duration lower intensity workout. That is Zone 1 for you. It is crucial that you continuous monitor your heart rate to ensure that you are getting the right kind of workout. Scroll down to see our recommendations for continuous heart rate monitoring devices that have been proven to help reach fitness goals.
If you are satisfied with your fat profile, get working out in the Zone 2. That will allow you to maintain your weight and improve overall fitness. It will use the body fat and along with the more instantaneous energy sources such as sugars to give the heart a good workout. Heart is essentially a muscle, and working it out in the zone 2 will provide long term health benefits.
Finally, zone 3 is for High Intensity Interval training. You do not and should not continuously workout in zone 3. Our bodies adapt quickly to repetitive forms of cardio and other exercises. Hence, always working in zone 1 is unlikely to get results. This is the reason your hard-work is not working. The only way to bust this adaptability is to introduce rapid bursts of intensity followed by relaxation. So, you take your heart rate to the zone 3, and then bring it down to zone 1. And do this repeatedly. An example workout would be a fast sprint for 30 seconds followed by a relaxed walk for 30 seconds. Circuit training also helps in this regard. You follow a fixed sequence of workouts in rapid succession for a preset time and then you take a few minutes rest, followed by another round of the same or different circuit. We highly recommend Jackie's Personal Training Program on getting into Zone 3 and back to Zone 1 for maximal effect. For less than 50 bucks, it is an awesome deal for a life-changing workout. This is sure to get that excess body weight melted away and lead to a healthier, fitter you.
Note your maximum heart rate. It is crucial that you do not exceed this rate. There's only so much intensity that your heart can handle. Because the maximum heart rate depends on your resting heart rate, it is even more important to first measure your RHR. Don't skimp, get measured using some of our recommendations. Note that your RHR changes based on your fitness level. Athletes typically have lower RHR than unfit people. See what your RHR is telling you with one of our highly recommended devices. This is one gadget that you cannot do without.
For detailed information about target heart rate, read the article published by the American Heart Association .