As the winter days get shorter and the holiday pies get bigger, sticking to exercise goals gets more difficult, but it’s never been more important to stick to a plan.
Your heart rate can be a powerful tool providing you leverage in achieving those goals, so now is a good time to review what it means and how to utilize it.
But first things first: the initial step in achieving a goal is actually making a goal, writing it down and giving it a deadline.
DC Fit Crasher Meaghan Stakelin says “sometimes an impending deadline is just the motivation you need to get going.”
So now that you have a goal, here is a great chart that shows how managing your heart rate can help you get there.
This table divides your heart rate into four zones, each based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate use this simple formula –
Maximum Heart Rate = 220 – age in years
Fat Burning Zone
At the low end is the Fat-Burning Zone. Of course your body will burn some fat in all of the zones, but many experts say this zone is the best for getting rid of that unwanted mass and losing those holiday pounds.
So, if your primary goal is to lose weight, then staying in this zone—at lower than 60 percent of your max heart rate—is a great way to get there.
Tip: Go on a workout date. Anne Mauney, a registered dietitian and runner, says “Knowing I have someone to meet makes my workout way more fun and means I can’t bail—win-win.”
The Aerobic Zone refers to aerobic metabolism. In this zone, your body primarily uses oxygen to create it’s energy. This is the primary zone of operations for endurance sports, such as long distance running.
If you’re an endurance athlete looking to build even more endurance or a power athlete looking to become more rounded, then this is the zone you should be training in.
Tip: Invest in a treadmill and make your endurance training more easily accessible. Eliminate trips to the gym, finding a babysitter if you have kids, or having to run in the dark before or after work.
Somewhere between the aerobic and anaerobic zones lies your lactate threshold, which is where your body begins producing lactate. Training near or just under this line can help increase your aerobic ability and stave off lactate build up for longer.
Lactate threshold training can be very beneficial for endurance and power athletes alike, and raising that bar is a great goal for anyone.
Tip: Be accountable to social media and share your goals with other people. You’ll be less likely to back down when others are encouraging you and keeping tabs.
Anne Mahlum, owner of Solidcore says telling your followers and friends you’re going to exercise “keeps you accountable in a very public way.”
The Anaerobic Zone refers to anaerobic metabolism. In this zone, your body primarily starts burning glucose to create energy. Also, the lactic acid starts to build up.
This is the zone for an endurance athlete looking to build up speed for the final lap, or the power athlete wanting more drive from beneath the weights.
Tip: Treat yourself. Working out in this zone can be rough, especially if working out in the cold.