Most everyone who exercises, and some who don't, will tell you cardio is the way to go to lose weight. And they are, for the most part, right. But there are nuances to losing weight and keeping it off that go beyond just cardio. Knowing how to use heart rate training will better aid you toward your goals.
Cardio burns more fat than weights, in general. By raising the heart rate into the 65-85% zone for 20 minutes or more, fat burns best. If you workout above that zone for too long, you will burn valuable muscle and keep the fat.Types of cardio include walking, running, swimming, biking, skating, and classes.
However, to maintain lean muscle mass which is important, you must also do weight training. Strength training can be weight machines, free weights and body weight. There are different training methods utilizing cardio and strength that can burn fat more efficiently for those who are struggling to lose the last 10-20 pounds and for post-menopausal women.
The best way to know if you are working in the ideal zone, it is important to monitor heart rate. Using a heart rate monitor, instead of the hand holds on cardio equipment that is easily damaged, will be most accurate.
A Move Past Basic
There are a number of reasons people need to train in a certain heart rate zone and be as accurate as possible. Heart patients, diabetics, athletes, and those wishing to lose weight should workout using heart rate training. A heart rate monitor with a telemetry strap that fits around the chest and a wrist readout is very helpful for any setting: machines, outdoors, classes, and the like. If you are a cardiac patient, please find out from your doctor the right training zone for you.
The first step is to find your maximum heart rate.You can do this by subtracting your age from 220. For example, for a 40 year old person, it would be 180 beats per minute. You should not work out at your max heart rate for very long! To find the heart rate range, multiply your max heart rate by .65 then again by .85. So for the 40 year old, it would be 117 bpm to 153 bpm. Training in this range would be fine for the average 40 year old with no health issues. Knowing your heart rate range and monitoring it will help quite a bit.
The next step would be to know how much weight you want to lose. If you have more than 30 pounds and have been exercising already, you will want to switch over from steady state cardio to circuit or interval work.This means you would do cardio at 90% for a few minutes , then drop it down around 70% for a while, then back up. You can also do a circuit with weights or body weight by doing a cardio burst for 1-2 minutes, then 3 weight exercises with no rest between. Cycle in a 60:30:30:30 ratio for 5 cycles. For example, you jog for 2-5 minutes then you do squats, push ups, then ab curls. Rest for 1 minute after that cycle, then go again. You will find that your heart rate will spike up during your weights more than your cardio. The rest interval is very important for recovery so you can go again. You will create a greater fat burn by doing this, but if you haven't exercised before, start with steady state cardio and weight training first to get your body ready for more intense work.
Fine Tune It
Find exercises you absolutely love. If you hate it, you won't do it for long. If you take exercise classes or small group personal training, your instructor will have a format for you. You can maximize your work with your heart rate monitor or activity tracker that records your heart rate and calorie burn. Find out what the instructor's goals are so you can cooperate with the workout plan. If you work at too high a heart rate, you can have problems with your heart and breathing. You also could burn muscle instead of fat. Working at the right intensity will keep you in the fat burn range.
If you are working alone, then it is up to you to challenge yourself. Let's say you warm up on the treadmill for 5 minutes, which most cardio machines will read your chest strap. Get off and do two exercise machines for two different areas of the body. Check your heart rate. Go back to cardio for 5 minutes, do 2 machines. The time you are doing strength is dependent upon your strength and endurance. Start with 8-12 repetitions for each. Work your way up to 15 reps. Later, as you get stronger and can handle more, go for time between 30-60 seconds for each strength machine. Free weight exercises can also be used. Cool down for 5-10 minutes, then stretch the major muscle groups. Ta-Da! You are done!
There are a number of ways to train, but these methods are good ways to get going or get out of a slump. Happy heart rate training! God bless you!