How to Stay In The Fat Burning Zone

For you to consistently burn fat, lose weight and reach your ideal body weight, FOCUS on the "BIG PICTURE" before fine tuning your training methods.


Here's the "BIG PICTURE:" for you to stay in the Fat Burning Zone

What is workout intensity? Basically this: the higher your heart rate during exercise, the higher the intensity.

You can use a heart rate monitor but "perceived exertion," or how you feel during your workout will be more reliable for you (because its your body). Perceived exertion varies from person to person. What feels easy for you may be very difficult for someone else.

Perceived exertion can be measured this way:

a) If you can easily carry on a conversation with no problems breathing, you are not working out very hard.

b) You are exercising at moderate intensity, if your breathing quickens but you are not out of breath and can carry on a conversation. You will usually have a light sweat.

c) You are exercising at high intensity, if you are sweating profusely, breathing heavily and can only say a few words before pausing to catch your breath.

High intensity workouts will give you maximum fat-burning and heart health benefits in minimum time. You will burn more calories and fat---during and after your workout. Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) causes your body to burn more calories and fat after a tough workout.Your body has to work harder to get back to its pre-exercise state.

Four Fat Burning Zone Pillars

1. You have to eat enough of the right foods (whole, natural foods), all the time, for your body to work properly.

Whether exercising, working, walking or just plain living. Keeping your body in an anabolic state all the time aids your metabolism, muscle-building, body repair, weight loss and overall long-term health.

What does “anabolic state” mean?  Here are six points to consider:

a. When your body is in an anabolic state, the metabolic processes which build up body tissues, such as muscle growth, are working properly.

b. The catabolic state is just the opposite.  Your body goes into a catabolic state when you don’t eat enough or when you workout hard.  The micro tears in your muscles can’t be avoided during a tough strength workout. 

A post-workout meal containing mainly quickly digesting protein and carbohydrates will minimize the catabolic state and begin the repair and rebuilding process of your muscle tissues.   To get maximum benefits, this meal needs to be 30-45 minutes after your strength workout.  Protein shakes or smoothies are ideal for this purpose.

c. It is also critical to rest and recover between workouts for your body to remain in an anabolic state.  Recovery is just as important as the workouts if you want your muscles to grow and to prevent injuries and general body breakdown.

d. Eat the right way most of the time.  That means including the macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats) in your diet.  Your body particularly needs fuel from carbohydrates (storage glycogen) during your coming workout.  You should not go long periods without eating.  Eating every 2-3 hours will do the trick.  When your body senses starvation, it begins to feed on itself and your precious muscle mass usually takes the hit.

e. Dietary supplements are also part of the anabolic puzzle.  Multivitamins and krill oil are two examples of supplements that I take. 

f. Drink enough water every day so your body’s metabolic processes will work properly.  Dehydration is big trouble, of course.  Drink about an ounce of water for every pound of your body weight.  So, if you weigh 200 pounds, drink about 100 ounces of water a day.  Foods high in water content count towards your water consumption.

2.  Exercise smart and hard.  

Don't worry about the details of fat burning zones.  They do exist but here's what the research says:

If you aren't burning fat, you may need more challenging workouts. Change your thought process about how you do your workouts. Long, grueling workouts won't give you better results.

For example, long, slow cardio sessions wastes time and your precious muscle mass also wastes away.  
Anaerobic cardio sessions, like sprint intervals, have been proven to give superior heart-health and fat-burn benefits. So, don't waste your time and start building your lean, mean fat-burning machine.

Vary your workout intensity with short bursts to burn fat faster. The more intense your workout, the more fat you will burn. Don't spend 2-3 hours in the gym. Quality workouts are the key to fat loss and weight loss success.

Research at Duke University, directed by Dr. Cris Slentz, supports high-intensity exercise for better fat loss. The eight-month study showed that people could lose weight with exercise and no dieting. Those who exercised intensely lost much more fat than those who exercised moderately. 


According to the research, the high-intensity exercisers had these advantages over the low-to-moderate intensity exercisers: 

  • more release of fat from cells
  • more fat used as fuel during exercise
  • increased metabolic rate after exercise
3. Does this describe your strength workout?

a) seated machine triceps dips
b) seated biceps curls
c) seated machine shoulder press
d) seated leg press
e) seated machine abductor leg exercise
f)  seated machine adductor leg exercise
g) machine calf raises

To be fair, this could be a good way for a beginner to start for maybe a week at most. But, I see veterans of workouts rotating from machine to machine doing a workout. And, then they wonder why they are not burning fat! 

I personally recommend a good full body bodyweight workout over a machine workout any day.

4. You can't be an upper body workout monster and expect to have a toned body. If you're not sure whether this is you, your workout goes something like this most of the time:

a) bench press, incline press, decline press
b) rows
c) shoulder press
d) crunches 
e) lateral raises and front raises
f)  biceps curls
g) triceps exercises

Where are the leg exercises? Can't do heavy leg weights because of injuries? Do bodyweight lunges, squats, step ups, etc. 

So, how can you burn fat and change your body?

Burn more fat by exercising major muscle groups, not by working out longer. Maximize your time in the gym and get the results you want. The quality of your workouts are better than the quantity of your workouts. 

Shorten your strength training workouts to 50 minutes or less and ramp up the intensity. In other words, work harder (on major muscle groups) for a shorter period of time and you'll get more fat burn and calorie burn during and after your workout. 

Do as many compound strength exercises (with weights or bodyweight) standing up as possible. These types of exercises work major muscle groups and many times are full-body strength exercises.

Squats, deadlift, lunges, standing bentover rows, squat-to curl-to press and bench press are great examples. Full-body core exercises like planks and side planks work well also. 

Spend less time posing on "mirror exercises" like bicep curls, calf raises and tricep extensions. These are single-joint exercises that burn minimal fat.

Its more fun to workout when you see fat-burning results that help your body feel and look better.

Here is my Bodyweight 500 Metabolic Fat Burner Workout if you need it.  Work hard and smart!

About Mark

About Mark

Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.