Optimize Your Exercise Routine to Burn Fat!

Years ago, as I was training for my first half marathon, I was a broken down and injured mess. I was training daily, and hard. I was suffering from a severe IT band injury, hormonal imbalances, and excessive fatigue. I was a collegiate athlete, certified personal trainer, and doing all the “right” things. So why did I feel so terrible?

Enter in the work of Dr. Phil Maffetone. He is a world renowned coach for professional endurance athletes. He helps world class athletes break past their barriers and up their competitive game. I started incorporating his work into my training and 3 months later successfully ran my first (of many) half marathons pain free, my hormones normalized, and I lost a few pounds to boot! So how does he do it? Heart rate training. He has done extensive work in the field of heart rate conditioning and developed his own formula to optimize physical performance and endurance. More on that, later.


Our heart is a muscle, just like the other muscles of our body. We live in an aerobic (oxygen utilization) world. Day to day tasks such as doing household chores, running errands, going for walks, playing with children, etc are aerobic in nature! This is the optimal area of fitness to work on, as we utilize it constantly. By training our heart specifically, it becomes stronger, more efficient, and able to produce better results.


Many times I see patients who are simply pushing their bodies too hard with exercise. We live in such a stressful world, that for most of us, the LAST thing we need is added stress! By monitoring our heart rate, we are able to make sure that they are exercising in a safe, fat burning mode. When we exercise too hard, we utilize the bodies’ sugar stores, making us crave...you guessed it, SUGAR! When we burn fat, we crave fat which gives the body sustained energy for long periods of time. Dr. Maffetone recommends taking 180 minus your age, minus an additional 5, and that is the top number your heart rate should get to during physical exercise. Subtract 10 from that number and that is your range! There are more variations you can find in his book, "The Big Book on Health & Fitness", but we will stick to this formula for simplicity.  

For example: A 30 year old’s formula would look like this:


   Minus 5=145


Most people are exercising far beyond their ideal range and by doing so throwing off blood sugar levels, burning up sugar stores, exhausting their adrenal (stress) glands, and lowering metabolism. I encourage you to start tracking your heart rate and see where you fall! For two weeks, stay within your range for 30 minutes, 3 times per week! It is imperative NOT to go beyond your top number! By exercising through this method consistently you will see improvements in endurance and efficiency of the heart shift drastically!

Here are a few heart rate monitors I have tested and approved!

I hope this information helps you up your workout game and get some aerobic endurance workouts in, without overly stressing your body! - Dr. Abby