Busting The Fat Burning Zone Myth: What type of cardio is most effective?


A high percentage of people who take up exercise are looking to burn fat and therefore many fitness magazines, especially bodybuilding magazines, have praised the low intensity “magic” fat burning zone. Low intensity activities such as walking burn a high percentage of calories from fat when compared to more intense exercises such as sprinting, which burns a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates.

The problem with staying in the fat burning zone is that while you are burning a higher percentage of fat, you don’t burn a lot of calories. You must burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound and although walking can get you there, it doesn’t give you the biggest bang for your buck. The best bet is to have the best of both worlds; periods of low intensity followed by high intensity exercise.

Try interval training to increase your calorie burn, while also taking advantage of the fat burning zone during the low intensity interval periods. Here’s an example of cardio interval training.

Warm-up – 5 minutes

1) Zone Two – 2 minutes

2) Zone One – 3 minutes

Alternate between steps one and two for a total of 20-30 minutes

3) Cool down – 5 minutes

*Determine your maximum heart rate (MHR) in beats per minute (BPM) for each zone using the formula below: 220 – [age] = MHR

•     Zone One Range: Maximum Heart Rate x 0.65  <-> Maximum Heart Rate x 0.75

•     Zone Two Range: Maximum Heart Rate x 0.80 <-> Maximum Heart Rate x 0.85

•     Zone Three Range: Maximum Heart Rate x 0.86 <-> Maximum Heart Rate x 0.90

Example:  220-28 = 192 is the MHR

-To calculate Zone One: 192 x 0.65 = 125 | 192 x 0.75 =144

-Zone One equals 125 through 144

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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