Gyms and Fitness Clubs

How High Should I Have My Heart Rate?


Over the years you may have heard or read that if you work out at a lower intensity (say 60 to 70% of maximum heart rate) then you are more likely to burn body fat. On the other hand, working out at a higher intensity (70 to 90% of maximum heart rate) will improve cardiovascular fitness, meaning more stamina and improved cardiac functioning. To some degree this is true.

A lower intensity tends to utilize fat as your energy source, so you may burn more body fat while working out at a lower heart rate. However, you'll need to exercise for a longer period of time. Keep in mind, the formula for losing weight is simple...expend more calories than you consume. So whether you exercise at a low intensity or a high intensity, what matters is the total number of calories you burn during the exercise session. If you choose to exercise at a lower heart rate you will need to increase the duration of your workout in order to burn more calories.

If you think about it, the best heart rate to work out at is at a higher percentage of your maximum. Not only are you burning more calories, but you're also training at an intensity that is more conducive for improving cardiac function.

I want to point out a cautionary note regarding the intensity of your workout. A higher intensity may burn more calories in a shorter period of time along with greater conditioning of the heart; however, you need to be the judge whether or not you can handle it. If you're feeling faint, lightheaded or dizzy, that's a sign you're overdoing it. Ease up and slowly increase the intensity over time. Don't ignore the warning signs your body gives you. Again, make sure you check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

Stop! If you're feeling faint, lightheaded or dizzy, that's a sign you're overdoing it.