Ask Rocco: Matters of the Target Heart Rate

Ask Rocco: Matters of the Target Heart Rate

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Question: Hi Rocco, Can you tell me what's the deal with target heart rates? At my gym, the trainers are always talking about staying within your "fat burning" range while doing cardio, saying anything higher than that really just conditions your heart and isn't optimal for fat burning. How can I be burning fat optimally if it feels like I'm barely working and barely sweating? What is your opinion on this (or the facts on this, I should say)? Is it better to burn off a lot of calories by working out at a harder pace or is it better to keep it steady at a lower one? Thank you!
– Kitty

Here’s the truth of the matter. Way back when, in the dinosaur age – or really back in 1968 – a doctor named Kenneth H. Cooper wrote a book called “Aerobics” in this book he spoke of research that he had done that resulted in fat burning from sustained (constant) aerobic training in several different zones.


One zone, in “his” opinion, was considered the perfect zone for burning fat. This is what his Cooper Institute was founded on. Well, since then, nearly 40 years have passed and tons of research has been done on this subject and most of it concluded that there are so many variables that go into it that it really doesn’t make sense anymore.

One of the best ways to burn fat or “blow torch” fat is by doing your weight training first (depleting as much glycogen) and then do your aerobic activity in an interval style. For example: Treadmill – walk for two minutes then run for one minute as fast as you can without having to stop then two minutes walk and so on until you finish up at 20 minutes.