What’s the Best Heart Beat Range for Losing Weight?


SAM:  Would you be able to tell me the best heart beat range for losing weight?  Is there a different range for cardio-exercise?  I’ve been using a stationary bicycle during the cold weather for exercise.  ~ Marcy, Utah

It’s easy to determine your target heart rate for losing fat (remember: you want to focus on fat loss, not weight loss).

The calculation is:

80% x [220 – (AGE)] = Heart Rate.

For example, I’m 34 years old, so I subtract my age from 220, then multiply the resulting number (186) by .80 to reveal a target heart rate of about 148 BPM.  That’s about 80 percent of my heart’s capacity.  The medical establishment says fat burning mode is between 55 and 65 percent of your maximum heart rate, but as a professional trainer, I’ve personally come to believe that you’ll burn more overall calories by working a little bit harder (e.g. 80%) and get more out of your cardiovascular training time.  Also, remember to give consideration to other factors, such as your medical history and what your doctor has to say.

3 thoughts on “What’s the Best Heart Beat Range for Losing Weight?

  1. Sam,
    Personally, I find the 220-AGE calculation to be a bit simplistic. Perhaps it is based on an average but it doesn’t work correctly for me or most of the people I know. Using that formula, my max would be 179. But I hit 179 during workouts all the time. In attempting to do a max test, the highest I’ve hit is 201. My brother, who is 37 (meaning he would have a max of 183) has hit 206 in his HR. If we actually set our watches to the considerably lower max heart rates, then our watches would tell us we were working at 55% or 65% or 80% when we were actually working much lighter. So while I agree with the 80% mark, I also think that everyone should do one of a variety of simple test available to come up with a better estimate of max HR.

  2. I’d say that I’m moderately conditioned and my brother is highly conditioned. He rides his bike 120-140 miles a week. I usually do 5×60 minute cardio workouts a week.

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