How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate, So You Can More Effectively Burn Fat While Running


Woman fixing her shoelaces before jogging on a trunk.

There are many benefits to running, but if you want to lose weight doing it, you’ll need to be consistent with your routine and work to keep your heart rate up during each workout.

“Aim to run three to four times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session,” Corey Phelps, an NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Cultivate By Corey in Potomac, MD, told POPSUGAR. Focus on keeping your heart rate between 65 and 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is calculated by subtracting your age from 206. “This is considered the endurance zone and trains the body to burn fat as fuel,” Corey said.

Running at this pace burns an average of 255 calories in 30 minutes, she explained — that’s about eight calories per minute. To lose one pound of fat, you have to create a 3,500-calorie deficit through diet, exercise, or a combination of the two, which typically yields the best results. “You cannot outrun poor eating habits,” Corey said. “Other important considerations for success in running and building a healthy and lean physique include a healthy diet, strength-based training, and adequate sleep and recovery.”

Once you’ve achieved your weight-loss goals, you can continue to track your heart rate during your workouts to stay in shape or even to build your endurance for a race, such as a 5K or half marathon. “Heart rate training for weight loss is pretty similar to if you were training for a race,” Corey said. “The sweet spot when training for a race is about 70 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.”

Whatever your training goals, Corey advises varying the speed, incline, and intensity of your runs to challenge your body with every workout. If you’re a beginner, just be careful not to overdo it — you should work to build up distance, volume, and intensity slowly.

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