Monitoring your heart rate during high intensity exercise can be a very important aspect of your exercise routine. Not only does keeping an eye or your heart rate help to prevent overexertion, but it can also be vital to helping you optimize your workouts. This means that you can ensure that you burn the most calories in the least amount of time.

Finding your optimal heart rate is therefore a great way to make sure you are making the most out of each and every workout. But just how do you go about finding our your best heart rate target? Well there are two ways. Number one, you can buy a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate during workouts, or two you can take your pulse and do it the old fashioned way.

Heart rate monitors generally aren’t overly pricy and can be a great way to keep track of your workouts and optimize them. Generally a heart rate monitor involves a monitor portion that you where around your chest just below the breasts and a watch that gives you the information you need. These gadgets can be very handy because they give you a much better indication of your true heart rate than the exercise machines at your gym will, and because they have a lot of other great functions too.

Most heart rate monitors and watches will also tell you exactly how many calories you have burned based upon your heart rate and will beep if you like when you are in or out of your fat burning zone. This can be great when you are running or doing any kind of interval training. You can even set these handy gadgets to help you with these kinds of training programs.

Heart rate monitors can be great for getting an accurate estimate of your total calories burned. You can then use this to figure out how much you can burn in an allotted time doing a certain form of exercise. As you get increasingly fit you can also watch the amount of calories burned change. Finally, if nothing else they are also great stop watches or timers and are full of other functions that can help you make the most of your workouts.

If you’re not interested in shelling out the cash for one of these monitors though you can also simply do it the old fashioned way. Using your index and middle finger, place these on your neck to get your pulse and count how many times you hear your heart beat over the course of six seconds and simply add a zero to that number to get an approximation.

Your target heart rate will of course depend on a variety of factors including most importantly your age and your level of fitness. So for instance, if you are thirty years old and do moderate exercise every week your target heart rate range would be between 114 and 152 beats per minute. Contrarily if you are in higher than average shape and exercise vigorously than your target heart rate would be slightly raised at 133 to 171 beats per minute.

Generally speaking the older you are the lower your heart rate should be while the more fit you are the higher it can be. Individuals of course vary, but these are general guidelines.

Optimal fat burning potential occurs when you are exerting about eighty to eighty-five percent of your abilities. To calculate this use the Karvonen Formula. Hear findout your resting heart rate, your heart rate when not doing any physical activity. If it is sixty-five beats per minute than take this number and use it for the formula below.

Start with the number 220 and then subtract your age. So if you are twenty years old than take 220 and subtract 20. You will get 200.

Now take this number 200 and subtract your resting heart rate. In this case it is 65 so 200 minus 65 equals 135. Now 65 % of 135 equals 87.75 and this plus your resting heart rate (65) equals the low end of your target heart rate, i.e. 152.75.

This is as mentioned the low end of your heart rate zone. To get the higher heart rate zone and to optimize fat burning potential now take this number, 135 and multiply by 85%. 135 x 85% = 114.75. Now again add your resting heart rate of 65 to this number. Now you’ll have 114.75 + 65 = 179.75. This is therefore the upper end.

Now what you have is the targeted fat burning zone for this individual. Fat burning occurs when the heart rate is between 152.75 and 179.75, or more easily between 150 and 180 beats per minute.

Now when you head to the gym or go out on your favourite running route you’ll know that your optimal fat burning happens when your heart rate is between these numbers. If you want to challenge yourself and do some interval training you can also use these to guide you. Move from high intensity fat burning training to lower or moderate intensity to really give your heart and body a great workout.

However you decide to monitor your heart rate, make sure not to go too far above your optimal heart rate zone. Pushing too hard can lead to exhaustion and other more serious difficulties. Finally, if you’ve been stationary for some time be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any intense workout training.

Author's Bio: 

Dale Miller is a health, sports, fitness and nutrition enthusiast. He operates, and writes a blog at