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Working out too hard?

Can working out above your target range (for heart rate) keep you from losing weight? I've been working out intensely and have not lost any pounds. I've never paid too much heed to staying within my "fat burning" range - thinking a calorie burned is a calorie burned- but maybe that's the problem.

Wed. Mar 8, 5:58pm

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Good question, I'm interested to read the responses to this question. If I may add a follow up question, are the heart rate readings on treadmills and elipticals usually accurate? The eliptical heart rate monitor usually says I'm working below calorie burning, then will jump all the way to above cardio, from 85 to 150. It seems a bit sporatic so I don't trust it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 6:21 PM

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don't trust those little metal grips, especially if you're holding on while exercising. Get a heart rate monitor, or count yourself on a clock with a second hand.

Working out too hard can absolutely prevent fat loss. If you think about it- starving your body makes it conserve, exercise too hard and it thinks- yikes, I'm going to need that fat if she keeps this up!! There's even research that says staying in the anaerobic zone can burn muscle not fat- even worse.

Now it will vary from person to person how hard is too hard. For me, I work in the 75-85% zone most of the time for optimal results. My friend stays in the 60's. For some, the physical stress from exercising can increase cortisol. Not good. So if you're exercising too hard with no results, try keeping your heart rate around 65% and see what happens.

A calorie burned is not always a calorie burned. That's why things like target heart rate, the kind of food you eat, sleep cycles, hormones, and for many, insulin resistance, etc., all affect weight loss. There's a balance that has to be kept.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 7:39 PM

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I will do sprints on the elliptical and get my heart rate above the high end of my target. The trainers have told me that there is no harm in doing this and I won't burn muscle as long as the majority of my workout is within my target range. This is the only way to increase your cardiac effeciency. My understanding is that if most of your workout is beyond your target rate, there is a point where you will start to burn muscle but it's a difficult calculation dependent on available carbs, cardiac effeciency, etc.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 7:44 PM

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You also have to realize that you have to count calories while you are exercising. Just because you worked out hard does not mean you can eat that BK meatnormous sandwhich (oh man, I'd love to see someone eat that just for the sick factor!). Anyway, my point is that maybe you're eating more calories because you're exerting so much while exercising (or, it could also be the starvation problem).

As for the heart rate, my trainer told me to keep it lower (it's dependent mainly on age), and that has helped me loose more wieght then I expected. However, I've also read articles that said higher is okay because you keep your heart rate up longer. Honestly, I prefer to keep my heart rate lower. I'm now walking up 3% inclines at a 3.9 speed at the same heart rate as I was walking at a 0% incline at a 3.5 speed! My point? Work yourself up to the higher intensities with a lower, but steady heart rate while eating right. :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 7:47 PM

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When I workout really hard, it makes me really hungry, so hence I eat, but when I keep my heart rate around 140, I do not need to eat so much. keep that in mind-it may help you

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 7:51 PM

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how many calories you burn is dependent upon your heart rate. This is part of why I despise plans based soley on calorie in calorie out. There's alot of things you have to know to even approximate how many calories you are burning. You cannot trust the read out on machines to tell you how many calories you burned. You'll have to take into account your personal metabolism, and then the intensity of your workout. (Another reason I hate ellipticals- harder to properly track your intensity.)

Working a little over your target range for a while is fine, it's when your entire workout is above or below range, that you're not getting the most effective workout.

Where in your target range is very much an individual thing- some one here has success in his lower range, I know I have to be higher range. Experiment to figure out what works best. But key is SOMEWHERE in your target. (And try the kavornen method instead of the basic 220-age x 0.6)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006, 11:30 PM

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The latest ish of Runner's World has a little article on this. Their take on it is that keeping in that lower-heartbeat "fat-burning" range is NOT as good for weight loss as pushing to the top of that range or higher into the cardio training range.

Thursday, March 09, 2006, 5:37 PM

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