Fat burning zone vs. cardio zone

The terms fat burning and cardio zone refers to the scientific approaches to know much about the burning fat or calorie from the body. Although these terms are bit scientific but it’s not quite complex to understand. Usually people find it confusing and spend much time to understand the catch here. They want to figure out the better and easier way to boost up the fat burning process.

Before understanding the fact, first of all you need to know about the two particular zones and their meaning.

Fat burning zone

Fat burning zone refers to the physical state of the body, when the heart tends to beat 60-70 per minute. At this zone you will not feel tired and can breathe easily. You can cover the long walking distance in this particular zone.

There is a misconception regarding fat burning zone. In the weight-losing world, some people think being slow and steady in workout is more effective for burning fat. People wrongly believe that it burns more calories at slow and steady exercise than it burns at quick exercise. So they tend to perform workout very slowly. It has some impact in some extent on fat burning process. However, it is mostly misunderstood to the majority of people.

The actual concept is your body burns higher percentage of fat at lower intensity than it does at higher intensity. For example, you can perform workout at lower intensity for 30 minutes. In this particular situation and time, your body may burn 50% of the calories from fat.

But doing the same, activity in higher intensity will help you to burn 30% from the body fat. This 30% would be more than in amount of other 50%. So, considering the total number of calories being burned, you will find the higher intensity exercises burns more calories than lower intensity exercises.

Now, it seems that I can make you understand the concept of fat burning zone. Remember another thing, fat is not solely responsible for overweight. Calories being stored in your body in the form of carbohydrate, fat and protein can lead the way to gain weight in course of time.

Calculate and monitor heart burning zone

First you need to calculate you maximum heart rate. After calculating MHR you can get fat burning zone rate by multiplying you MHR with any number between 60%-70%. For example if your MHR 100 then fat burning zone will be 60 to 70 beats per minute.

You can also use a heart rate monitor which provides you heart rate depending your age, height and weight. Although some cardio machine can calculate

VO2 Max test

VO2 Maximum test helps to determine the ability of body in transporting oxygen at the time of exercise. For this test you have to walk and into face mask that evaluate your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. This information is useful in determining what heart rate level is most suitable for burning fat.

Talking test

This test is less technical to analyze your fat burning zone. For example, if it feels you arduous to talk while doing workout then it means that you have to reduce workout intensity. On the other side if you can talk easily that indicates that you are not working out hard enough.

Applying fat zone exercise

Take strength training

It is necessary to include strength training in weekly exercise schedule. Strength training helps to build your muscle and metabolism rate. You can do this training for 2 days every week. Strength training includes weight lifting, push up, and pull up etc.

Consult your physical trainer

For best utilizing fat burning zone you can consult your personal trainer. They can help you more appropriately in designing necessary workout plan. You should also inform him about purpose of fat burning zone workout.

Cardio zone

Cardio zone necessarily means little more workouts from the fat burning zone. It refers to the physical state of the body, when the heart tends to beat 150-160 per minute. You can easily switch to the cardio zone from fat burning zone, when you are fit enough. There are various types of cardio workout available out there. Among those some typical type of cardio are like jogging, running etc. At this zone you will breathe faster and sweat more.

A great variety of benefits is associated with cardio zone exercise. Weight loss goal can be achieved swiftly by cardio zone exercise. It increases your metabolism rate and you have less chance to amass fat. Consequently, you lose weight.

It helps you to remain in fun mood and release tension. At the same time, it removes sleeping disorder. In improving stamina cardio, zone exercise is the best option.

The duration of cardio exercise depends on your physical condition and ultimate lifestyle. If you mostly lead sedentary life style then you should gradually increase the workout session. There is no such any restriction of frequency to exercise cardio. You can perform 4-7 days per week. Nevertheless, whatever you do you must take advice from your trainer.

The intensity of cardio also depends on your physical strength and ability high intensity cardio helps you to burn more calorie than low intensity. However, at the beginning you should not perform any high intensity exercise rather you should start slowly with low intensity exercise.

Target cardio zone exercise

Some people work out according to their physical ability and stamina level. But they don’t know how much they should exercise to lose belly fat from their body. That’s why many people don’t get their desired result. If you know the level of exercise that you should do then you don’t need to spend extra hour in gym.  So knowing desired heart rate is very important to drop out extra amount of fat. To do this you have know first your normal heart rate. Normal heart rate refers the number of heart beat per minute in normal situation of body. For counting your normal heart rate morning is the perfect time. According to the physicians average normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minutes for children and adults. But for athletes it is 40-60 beats per minutes.

To know target heart rate you have to do a series of steps. These are-

  • You can take pulse of your own, first take your pulse using your tips of first two fingers by pressuring slightly over blood vessels of your wrist.
  • Then count your pulse for only 10 seconds and multiply this number with 6 to get normal heart rate per minutes. To determine your target hearts rate, you have to find out 50-85 percent of your normal heart rate.

Another way to find out your heart rate is deducting your age from 220.  Here I am presenting the target heart rate or cardio zone.


Target HR Zone 50-85%

Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%

20 years

100-170 beats per minute

200 beats per minute

30 years

95-162 beats per minute

190 beats per minute

35 years

93-157 beats per minute

185 beats per minute

40 years

90-153 beats per minute

180 beats per minute

45 years

88-149 beats per minute

175 beats per minute

50 years

85-145 beats per minute

170 beats per minute

55 years

83-140 beats per minute

165 beats per minute

60 years

80-136 beats per minute

160 beats per minute

65 years

78-132 beats per minute

155 beats per minute

70 years

75-128 beats per minute

150 beats per minute

If your heart rate is too high and you feel tired within a very short period then you can slow down. If it is too low then you can exercise some harder workouts. First few weeks you should try soft workout then you gradually increase your workouts level.

Which is the best zone to burn fat?

This is a very typical question being asked by the people while they are on the way to flatten the stomach or lose weight. I know it’s your question too. I am going to explain the catch here for your better understanding. It’s a very simple and easy math to determine. Please concentrate on the points below.

  • Suppose you have burnt 100 calories by walking this evening. If 70% of that calories come from the fat burning zone, then it necessarily means that you had burnt 70 calories from the fat.

On the other hand when you are in the cardio training zone, you would be able to burn twice as more calories from the fat burning zone. That means you can burn about 200 calories, if you do the same duration of workout in cardio zone.

But, you may already know that body tends to burn many calories from the carbohydrates when you are in the cardio training zone.

  • Now, in this particular condition minimum you will be able to burn 40% of total calories from the fat. Whereas rest 60% is burnt from the carbohydrates. That means you will burn 200×.40=80 calories from fat in return, which is certainly more than the fat burning zone. Actually percentage may vary depending on the cardio workout.

So, it is proved that you will be able to burn some more calories from the cardio zone exercises instead of fat burning zone workouts.

The myth about fat burning zone

Our body collects energy from two sources, one is fat and the other is glycogen store. When you perform lower intense workout then more fat is burned. During work out if the heart rate is 50% then fat is burned 60% and glycogen 40%. When the heart rate is 75% then the ratio takes a form like 35%:65%.

So workout with lower intensity burns more fat than high intensity workout. But it does not mean that it burns more calories in terms of total calories.

The lower intense workout has less after burn effect. When your exercise is completed then. But If you perform high intense workout, metabolic disturbance causes more calorie burn.

So the ratio of burning fat between high intense and lower intense is low comparing to the total calorie burn.

Therefore, running or jogging is simply the better option than walking for burning fat from the body.


More on Fat Burning Zone:

  1.  What will be heart rate to burn fat?
  2.  How can you calculate your heart rate?

Last update: August 07, 2017 05:52:39 pm

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