Always check your heart rate while exercising to get an accurate measure.
Making the most of your exercise and weight-loss efforts is important. No one wants to spend time at the gym to see the scale sitting at the same weight week after week. There are various heart-rate training zones that can maximize your weight loss and cardiovascular benefits of exercises, but the bottom line is that you have to consume fewer calories than you burn, per the American Council on Exercise. If you work out for three hours and burn 2,000 calories, but you consume 6,000 calories, the scale isn't going anywhere.
Healthy Heart Zone
According to FitnessGuru.com, there are five heart-rate training zones. The first is the healthy heart zone and is targeted at keeping your heart rate at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, you need to subtract your age from 220. This is also touted as the fat-burning zone, as most of the calories burned at this heart rate come from breakdown of fat stores. Despite that, the total number of calories burned are fewer, and there is limited cardiovascular benefit in this range.
Exercise in the fitness zone is consistent with a heart rate of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This zone also is a fat-burning zone, with 85 percent of your calories being burned from fat stores. The higher the heart rate, the more calories you will burn. This zone does increase cardiovascular benefits as well as burn more calories compared to the healthy heart zone, but it does not maximize either of those benefits.
The third zone is the aerobic zone. Training in this zone entails maintaining a heart rate of 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. This zone is the best zone for improving cardiovascular benefits, and is split 50/50 for burning calories from fat versus carbohydrates. The intensity of this zone is increased from the previous and will result in significantly more calories burned, as well as improving muscle mass, which will result in greater weight-loss benefits when coupled with appropriate calorie consumption.
Anaerobic and Red Line Zones
The anaerobic zone is an extremely intense exercise zone with your heart rate functioning at 80 to 90 percent of your heart rate maximum. This zone leads to more calories burned, 85 percent from carbohydrate stores, and improved cardiorespiratory system. The redline zone consists of exercising at 90 to 100 percent maximum heart rate. Because the intensity is higher, there are more calories burned in this zone; however, only very elite athletes should attempt exercise at more than 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. It can be very dangerous for your heart if it's not efficient enough to maintain this level.
If you're starting an exercise program, seek guidance from your health care provider. Start at the healthy heart zone, and as your body and heart become more conditioned, gradually increase your intensity. The ultimate goal should be to do 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes per week of aerobic zone exercise, according to Mayoclinic.com. To maximize your weight loss, you need to monitor your calorie intake versus calories burned during exercise; otherwise, your cardiorespiratory system, strength and endurance may improve, but the scale will not budge.