What is a Fat-Burning Heart Rate?

Alex Paul

A fat-burning heart rate is the optimum heat rate for burning calories of fat. This isn’t necessarily the highest heart rate that can be achieved during cardiovascular exercise. In fact, at lower intensities, a workout can burn a higher percentage of calories contained within fat. The exact fat burning heart rate depends on the age and resting heart beat of the individual although it is usually attained during medium intensity workouts.

Jogging provides an aerobic workout.
Jogging provides an aerobic workout.

It has been shown, however, that overall more calories are burned during high intensity workouts. For this reason a person looking to lose weight shouldn’t aim for the fat-burning heart rate. Instead, an exercise routine that includes short but high-intensity exercise is most likely to burn a large number of calories, including those contained within fat. Interval training is often used for this reason because it allows the person exercising to alternate between low- and high-intensity workouts, thus getting both high-calorie loss and reducing fat.

The higher an individual's heart rate the more calories are being burned.
The higher an individual's heart rate the more calories are being burned.

Low- and medium-intensity exercises that make the person exercising have a heart rate within the fat-burning heart rate zone are still useful though. Workouts such as these will help to increase endurance and hence the person's overall health level. In most cases, a mixture of medium-intensity workouts combined with occasional calorie-burning, high-intensity exercises is the most effective method of losing weight.

To burn enough fat to see a noticeable difference to weight or appearance takes time and effort. It is recommended that someone trying to lose weight should aim for around 250 minutes of exercise per week. This includes low-, medium- and high-intensity workouts. To avoid injury the person trying to lose weight should increase his or her exercise workload gradually over time.

Exercising in the fat burning zone can still be effective for weight loss even though it won’t burn the most calories. The fat burning zone is usually found at around 50 percent of workout intensity. This allows the person to exercise for a longer period of time than he or she would when performing a high-intensity workout.

Medium-intensity workouts that can be used to achieve a fat-burning heart rate include brisk walking or light jogging, using an exercise bike on a low resistance and swimming. The person should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes when working within a fat-burning heart rate. This can be reduced to around 20 minutes if the intensity is increased.

Before beginning a workout regime — be it low, medium or high intensity — consult a physician or specialist. Also include an improved diet to maximize results and health benefits.

Swimming is a medium-intensity exercise that can be used to reach a fat-burning heart rate.
Swimming is a medium-intensity exercise that can be used to reach a fat-burning heart rate.

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Discussion Comments


As far as I know, the fat burning heart rate is different for each person. It depends on a person's maximum heart rate during activity. 80% of the maximum heart rate is supposed to be the optimum rate for fat burning.


@burcidi-- You must have also noticed on the machine's screen that there are different zones that correlate to your heart rate. If you pay attention the next time, you will see that the fat burning zone comes before the cardio zone in terms of heart rate.

The fat burning zone is usually around 140 heart beats per minute. Cardio is higher, around 160-170 beats per minute.

The great part about the newer exercise machines is that it keeps track of your heart rate so you know exactly where you are. Try to remain in the fat burning heart rate range if you want to get slimmer.


I don't know too much about the relationship between heart rate and fat burning. But the gym that I go to has a cardio machine with different options. One option is fat burning and I usually exercise with that.

I've noticed that the fat burning option makes me move faster with less effort at times and makes me move slower with more effort required at other times. It's like a cycle where I feel like my heart beat goes up a little bit and then goes down.

Are these machines made to target the fat burning heart rate?

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