get in the zone! which zone?

get in the zone! which zone?

Get in the zone! Which zone?

I’ve been wondering about a few things related to my cardio lately…

  • Does it matter if I hold the rails when I’m on machine?
  • Can that guys shorts be any shorter? (kidding!)
  • What should my target heart rate be for my cardio workouts?
  • Does that girl know that her boobs will sag from all that jiggling? (kidding!)
  • How long is long enough for my cardio?
  • I wonder if that hurts? (kidding again!)
  • Is one machine better than another?
  • How can I get the most out of my cardio workouts?

I could go on and on (as you know), but I won’t. Today I researched what my target heart rate should be when doing cardio. Here’s what I learned…

No surprise…the answer is not that simple…first I need to decide which “zone” I should strive for. Ugh…the “fat burning zone” or the “cardio training zone”. I’m sure you’ve seen these zones displayed on cardio machines. Have you ever thought about what it all means? Does it make a difference? Which one is better and why? The machines make it real easy to figure out your target heart rate for both zones…all you have to do is input your age and weight, place your palms on the sensors, and voila…it tells you what zone you are in – so what?

Which zone is better? Do I burn more fat in the fat burning zone which is actually easier than the cardio training zone? It sounds like this might be the case by the zone name (fat burning), but again…it’s not that simple. The difference is…when my heart rate is in the fat burning zone I’m losing a higher percentage of fat to total calories burned, about 50% (some say up to 60%), vs. roughly 40% in the cardio training zone. But…I burn more total calories and fat in the cardio training zone. Hmm…so which one is better?

After reading several articles on this subject…I’ve concluded that my goal is to spend as much time as possible in the cardio training zone. I still hope to lose another 6-7 pounds and the most efficient way to do so is to maximize my calorie deficit, therefore burning more calories will get me there faster. (I did just say calorie deficit…so my diet is half of this equation!)

For those of you that are just starting your fitbattle I recommend setting your sites on the fat burning zone first. Once you’ve built up your endurance then strive for the cardio training zone. Honestly as much time as I spend at the gym I struggle to stay in the cardio training zone…partly due to a little mind over matter issue…my mind talking me into slowing down before my body is ready to give up.

Based on the research I’ve done for today’s blog…here are my updated cardio goals:

  • Ensure that my heart rate does not fall below my target fat burning zone
  • Spend 25% more time in the cardio burning zone
  • And to do both of these…I need to spend more time in the mind over matter zone!

Oh and I know I left out some very important information…what is my target heart rate in these two zones?

  • Fat burning zone: 125-137
  • Cardio training zone: 138 to 156

Note…everyone is different, primarily due to two factors: age and resting heart rate. I have a lower than normal resting heart rate.

More importantly what is your target heart rate in these two zones.? Well you can calculate it yourself after reading a short article on, click here to see the article. Or you can use the cardio machines…all calculations are based on the same principles.

Until tomorrow! Kathi

2 thoughts on “get in the zone! which zone?

  1. Minna

    Hi Kathi,

    I have often wondered the same thing as you and for years stuck to my fat burning zone. My PT says that cardio training zone is better, for the reasons you outlined. Good luck with keeping in the zone.


  2. kkulesza

    Hi Minna,

    Yeah…my trainer agrees and has been telling me the same thing. And I do/did believe him, but sometimes I just need to find my own way…kindof like a kid I suppose. 😉