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Find Your Fat-Burning Zone

If you're working out but not seeing the results you're hoping for, read this. Here's how to optimize your workout to burn more fat and see results faster by working smarter, not harder.

Personal Trainer Kinsey Cave says losing weight has to do with what we're actually burning during our exercise.

"You have four different energy sources when you burn any activity: ATP, glucose, glycogen, and body fat. And at different heart rate zones, you burn the different energy sources predominantly," says Kinsey.

When you're in your lower heart rate zones, you're burning primarily body fat. While that's great, you're not burning many calories. So, the trick is to find that happy medium where you're burning plenty of body fat, but you're burning enough calories to make a difference.

So, Kinsey works with clients to see what they've been doing and determine the best workout routine for the best results. For one client, Gloria, she recommends interval workouts, which push her to workout harder for short periods of time. Within a few weeks, Gloria sees some big results - losing 3 inches from her waist and sleeping a lot better at night.

Tanya wanted to get in shape because she wants to be able to play with her first grandchild. To help her maximize her workouts, Kinsey has her workout on a treadmill with a VO2 mask, which measures your rate of oxygen uptake during exercise. The maximum rate of oxygen uptake is called the VO2 Max, and Kinsey recommends working out within 65 to 85 percent of your VO2

"Most people are either trying to maintain or lose weight, and in order to reach those goals, I think it's crucial to know what that zone is to make the most of your workouts," she adds.

These high-intensity interval workouts, working within her personal heart rate range, helps Tanya lose another 15 pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

Another client, Marty, was working out hard for an hour daily, but not seeing any results. Kinsey recommended scaling back the intensity of her workouts.

"You're not burning the right energy source when you're hitting it hard all the time," says Kinsey.

The changes have made a big difference for Marty, who is now seeing more results from her workouts.

"The national guidelines want you to workout at least 30 minutes a day at moderate intensity. In order to see results, the same guidelines apply. However, I would recommend doing 2-3 days of a higher intensity level exercise, and then I would recommend two to three days of moderate-intensity exercise," she says.

If you can't make it to a facility where VO2 tests are offered, you can do the math at home. Here's the Karvonen formula: After resting for a while or right when you wake up, take your index and middle finger and place on neck or wrist. Count heart rate for one minute. That is your resting heart rate.

From there, you have everything you need to calculate your training heart rate ranges. You want to calculate your 65-85 percent heart rate, and that's your fat-burning range.

First, find your resolved heart rate, by taking 220 minus your age and then subtract your resting heart rate.

Then find the percentages by multiplying your resolved heart rate by .65. Add that to your resting heart rate, and that's your 65 percent of VO2 Max. Repeat with .85, adding your resting heart rate, and that's your 85 percent of VO2 Max. Use those numbers to keep your heart rate within the maximum fat burning range while you work out.

For more from Kinsey, visit TrainFit.com.
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