Does this look familiar? Chances are you’ve seen it posted at your gym, on a fitness blog, or in a fitness app.
Viewing this chart may lead us to the following conclusions:
- There is a magical fat-burning zone
- There is a magical cardio zone that is ideal for fitness
- Uh-oh, something bad going to happen if you get your heart rate too high
Those observations are true, to some extent, but have been taken too far, and out of context, for many years. Let’s address each one.
Is there a magical fat burning zone? No.
- Research demonstrates no difference between fat loss in the “maximum fat zone” vs. the “maximum cardio benefit zone.” In fact, working out at lower intensities while controlling your calories may cause you to lose more muscle than if you exercised at higher intensities.
- The key is burning calories, along with controlling your calorie intake. If higher intensity interval training is used we will burn more calories in the same amount of time over-exercising in the so-called maximum fat burning zone.
- Where this myth comes from: It is true that at lower intensities we use more fat than during higher intensities, but it is not related to a special “zone” that allows the fat to melt away.
Is there a magical cardio zone? Sort of.
- To improve our fitness we must “stress” our body beyond the level it is used to. With that in mind, exercising at moderate to high intensities whether through interval training or longer moderate-intensity cardio sessions will lead to beneficial cellular changes that are the foundation of improved fitness.
Is it really “dangerous” to exercise with a high heart rate? Most of the time, no.
- The most beneficial changes to cellular metabolism and anatomy are stimulated by higher intensity exercise.
- While historically high intensity has been avoided by individuals because of risk for cardiovascular events during such activity recent research is changing the mindset of those working with at-risk populations
- If one is at moderate to high risk for cardiovascular disease it is necessary to work with a physician to determine how intense exercise will affect the body and modifications necessary for individual needs.
PerformTek sensor technology helps ensure sure you are exercising smarter while tracking changes with fitness assessments and monitoring to demonstrate the impact of the workouts on your fitness.