Exercise weight loss

What’s Your Target Heart Rate?

Today was my first day back in town, and it was a busy one.  In fact, it’s after midnight, and I just got in from the gym.

One of the highlights of my day was getting to spend time with my friends, Anne and Amy, before class.  And after that I had another great chat with the “almost friend” that I wrote about last week.  I even told him about the post (because it’s easy to talk to him like that.)  And it’s safe to say I can drop the “almost” part now.

I was also able to tell my professor thank you for influencing my life in such a profound way lately.  Overall it was a great day, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t sleep until I sweated it out at the gym.

Warmed up and ready to hit the weights!

After being gone for several days I knew that I needed to workout hard, but I was tired so I started on the treadmill with a warm-up then 20 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) before moving the weights.  I worked my upper body with weights (triceps, biceps, chest, etc) and also did a few sets of dumbbell squats before going back to the treadmill and running a 15-minute mile which is pretty fast for me most days.

I missed being on the elliptical, but I wanted to do something different so I’ll sweat it out on the elliptical tomorrow.

As I was running I noticed that my heart rate was pretty high, and it led me to wonder about everyone else’s target heart rate.  I try to keep mine in the 150’s, but it actually reached the 170’s a few times tonight which seems too high.

I'm following 30 since I'm 31...Just saying.

What do you think?  I’m looking forward to asking my new trainer, Kim, when we meet, but I want to know what you do now.  Do you check your heart rate when you’re doing cardio?  Do you stick to a specific range? And if so, how did you determine what was right for you?


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  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 3:16 am

    I’m 25 and weigh about 200 pounds and I’m usually in the mid 160s. When I do high intensity i’m at about 175 and when I do big weights, squats or clean and presses I get to about 180. My personal trainer says that this is what we are aiming for. When I do an intense work out my average heart rate at the end is about 160.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      I’m looking forward to seeing what my new trainer recommends, but it sounds like I was around the same zone as you. I’m six years older too though…hmmm…

  • Reply
    Grace @ Healthy Dreaming
    April 17, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I actually have never tracked my heart rate which I probably should be doing during my workouts. I do gauge how hard I’m working though by how heavily I’m breathing and if I can talk.

    Good for you for pushing through your fatigue and working out! Looking cute!

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks! I did push through, but I really need to work on sleeping more and at an earlier time.

      And thanks for the ‘cute’ comment too! =)

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I’m 25 and I weigh over 300 pounds. On the elliptical, I usually hover in the mid to high 140’s. I know that when I was in shape enough to run, I would be in the 150’s. I’ve seen my heart rate get as high as 170 and I can feel it in my chest when it does that, so I try to keep it below 160. I’d really like to buy a HR monitor, but they’re so expensive that I’m waiting until it’s better for me to have one than to not have one.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      I can’t find my HR monitor, and it’s aggravating. I will have to break down and get a new one soon if mine doesn’t turn up. I just use the machines to gauge it right now.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I bet it made your professor’s day to hear that! So glad you got to tell him/her.

    As for heart rate, I have tachycardia so I can’t use the normal gauges. But if your normal max HR is in the 150s, then yes, 170s seem a bit high. However if it wasn’t staying there and was mostly in the 150s, I would think that would be okay. I would definitely ask your trainer.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      I hope so. She’s a wonderful lady!

      I’ll definitely ask my trainer, but she’s new..I’ll have more to say about her soon. =)

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I never track my heart rate during my workout. I think the concept is dated. So long as I’m moving and breathing my body is happy.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm


  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I started keeping track of my heart rate when a few years ago when my heart rate got up to 190 during a workout and I knew that was way too high. I just googled target heart rate calculators and found several. My mom gave me a heart rate watch for my birthday. It beeps when I enter my target zone, if I drop out of the zone or get too high.

    • Reply
      April 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      That’s awesome KC. I have one, and I can’t find it..Sigh. I’ve just been using the machines to gauge it, but I’m inspired to look for mine again today.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

    I’m 41 and down to 155ish. I worked with my nutritionist to figure out my target heart rate, and use my heart rate monitor to keep an eye on it. I particularly like using the monitor in spin classes, and pay more attention to where my heart rate is than whether I’m on the same gear or doing the RPMs the teacher is recommending.

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Wow, love the dedication of a late night gym session!! I was just calculating different target zones (warm up, fat burn, aerobic, etc) based on my max heart rate (220 minus age). According to my hrm, I usually stay around 140-160 but apparently that’s not the best for fat burn! I may try to switch it up this week, keep it around 140, and see if it helps. 🙂

  • Reply
    Laura @ LauraLivesLife
    April 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    This is a great question – I know that when I first started my weight loss journey, my HR was super high when I was doing intense cardio – but now it has settled down, so much so that I have to work way harder to even get it in a target zone (my resting is super low too, way below normal). I think it has to do with endurance, so maybe getting your’s so high is a great thing, bcause it means you are burning more calories?

  • Reply
    Marla K.
    April 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Hey Kenlie… I have had discussions at LENGTH with many trainers/athletes on this and your target heart rate is based on your maximum heart rate which is a very individual number (ie cannot be determined in comparison to others and cannot accurately determined by a fomula) Here is a very interesting and some of the best information I have found on heart rates and how to determine yours and how to use it for training. Hope it helps:


  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I sure do follow my heartrate, as mine is pretty low – good condition my trainer says. So i need to kick some ass during cardio.
    My trainer says i need to be between 120-138…

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I don’t pay that much attention to it, however, my HRM says I average about 145 during a workout, with peaks around 160 on occasion. If I do any jogging though, it immediately spikes up to the 180’s- I have NO stamina for that! (I’m 31 too)

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Heart rates are VERY individualized. People can do generalized guesses (220-age is most common) but yours could be VERY different. I’m a big believer in HR training for cardio (I wear a monitor for weights, boot camp, etc., but don’t watch as closely). I actually did a max HR test, which is the only way to determine your own max. Several different possible tests (some involve doctors, some don’t, mine involved 30 minutes of maximum sustained effort after a warm-up, and my max was the average of the last 20 mins).

    But because I train with a group, and everyone was required to get individual max HR measurements, I know for a fact that my max is in the low 190s (and I’m 36), and I shared that max HR with a guy in his mid-50s, a guy my age, and a guy who was more than 10 yrs younger than me.

    Whether your trainer likes HR is a different question. For me, it’s worked well. There were many times I felt like I was working hard, but my HR wasn’t high enough, so I had to push harder, and there were other times the opposite was true. It also depended on the goal of the day, I didn’t always want to be in my max zone. But lots of things also affect your HR on any given day — hydration, sleep, stress, prior alcohol consumption, external temp, etc.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment, but I LOVE HR training, it’s worked very well for me, and I’ve done tons of research on it, so I was anxious to share when you asked! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I think those ranges are far too low to get the intensity that is required for weight loss. I am 44 and try not to go above 170, but stay around 160. But, I don’t really need to track all the time … if I am red faced and sweating like a pig when I am done, I have done the work.

    • Reply
      April 18, 2012 at 1:50 am

      I also remember that i still can have a conversation during a workout otherwise i am pushing myself to hard. And i cant have a normal conversation above 140.

  • Reply
    Becky H
    April 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I think it has more to do with your natural resting heart rate than your age. Your natural resting heart rate adjusts with your body weight and metabolism.

    Are you still doing Weight Watchers?

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