The Target Heart Rate Controversy

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I always find it funny when there is controversy about working out. You’d think that if something is healthy for you and gets you moving there would be no way that anyone could think badly about it. But like with food, people have different opinions on what is best for the body and how hard we should be pushing ourselves. One of the biggest controversies in fitness is the target heart rate.

target heart rate controversy


Your target heart rate (also known as the fat burning zone) is that special place where your body has reached its peak ability to lose weight. The theory is that once you are in this zone it doesn’t matter how hard you push yourself, you will still only burn as much as you are burning when your heart rate enters that zone.

If you want your workouts to maximize your ability to burn calories and tone, finding your target heart rate is supposed to teach you how to do that.

But how do you find that heart rate?

The easiest way is to Google ‘target heart rate calculator’. This will give you lots of options to choose from. Simply select one and answer a few questions and you’ll know your target heart rate in no time.

Once you have that number, you can get a heart rate monitor, like the Polar watch, to monitor your heart rate while you are working out. It is interesting that despite the number of claims stating that using the target heart rate does not work, there are still so many gadgets out there designed to help you monitor your heart rate during your workout.

Just remember, it’s soooooo important to build yourself up to your weight loss goals and remember to respect and listen to your body. For example, don’t skip the warm up and cool down, as this will keep you from properly working up to and coming out of your fat burning zone and could do you more harm than good if you were to skip them.

But let’s take a look at the other side of the coin for a minute.

Some people believe that using your target heart rate during your workout is an ineffective way to gauge your intensity. The belief is that because you can reach your target heart rate without really pushing yourself to your limits during your workout, you are not burning as many calories as you could otherwise.

Wait, there’s more. 😉

They also believe that when you workout using your target heart rate you miss out on one of the biggest benefits of exercise – the afterburn effect. What is the afterburn? Essentially it means that you are burning calories even after your workout is complete, meaning you are still getting benefits from your workout long after you have left the gym.

Whether you are working out using your target heart rate or you choose to use something like tabata training so that you can get the benefits of the afterburn effect, the most important thing for you is to do what feels best for you. Don’t let others dictate your path to health, only you can do that.

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The most important thing to remember is to just start exercising in the first place. Don’t let fear stop you from improving your health, losing some weight, toning some muscle or just plain find a stress outlet! If you don’t know where to begin, make sure to check out my free 7 Day At-Home Workout to jump start your weight loss!

What about you? Do you use a heart rate monitor to gauge your fitness intensity or do you just let your body tell you? Share your thoughts on the topic b’low!


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