Training in Your Most Effective Heart Rate Zone


Hello Lose Weight Challenge participants. Congratulations on getting to week five of the challenge. This week I want share the Karvonen heart rate formula with you so you can have more effective cardiovascular workouts.

Karvonen Formula

The Karvonen Formula is a heart rate reserve formula and it’s one of the most effective methods used to calculate training heart rate. The formula factors in your resting heart rate, therefore, you’ll need to determine your resting heart rate before beginning.

The formula:

Zone 1:  Fat burning zone

220 – Age – resting pulse= A    
Take A (60%) and A (75%) Fat Burning Zone
Take these numbers and add the resting pulse back in and you will have your Fat Burning Zone.


Example: 220 – 30(age) – 80(resting pulse) = 110
110(60%) = 66 (66 + 80) = 146
110(75%) = 82.5 (82.5 + 80) = 162.5
This individual’s fat burning zone would be (146 – 162.5 bpm)

Zone 2: Cardiovascular zone

220 – Age – resting pulse= A    
Take A (70%) and A (85%) Cardiovascular Zone
Take these numbers and add the resting pulse back in and you will have your Cardiovascular Zone.


Example: 220 – 30(age) – 80(resting pulse) = 110
110(70%) = 77 (77 + 80) = 157
110(85%) = 93.5 (93.5 + 80) = 173.5
This individual’s cardiovascular zone would be (157 – 173.5 bpm)

Which zone do I train in?

  1. The fat burning zone is efficient enough for you to burn stored body fat. Meaning, staying in this zone will help you begin to shed those unwanted pounds of fat from your body. You will need to get at least into this zone to be the most efficient in the fat burning process.
  2. The cardio zone is training at a higher heart rate mainly in the 80+ % zone. This will be much more intense and you will ultimately burn more calories. However, you do not have to train in this zone to burn stored body fat. It will however help you see results faster. Many individuals who train in this zone are considered endurance athletes.

My recommendation:

You have been in the challenge for 4 weeks now and you may be hitting some mid-point plateaus.  Your resting heart rate is probably much lower that when you began the challenge because your body is adapting to your workouts. Therefore, I would take your resting pulse first thing in the morning. Take your pulse for one minute and record that number. Plug it into one of the formulas above and you will have a much better idea of where you need to keep your heart rate going forward!

Best of luck on your finish!


Reminder: At 7:00 p.m. CST on April 11th I will be hosting a live Facebook chat on the Weight Loss Challenge. "Like" the Snap Fitness page on Facebook at for Lose Weight Challenge tips, motivation, and to get in on our live chat!

GUEST BLOGGER | Chad Ruf, Director of Personal Training

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