If you are a beginner, you should start at a lower intensity. Intensity is measured by your heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the harder you are working. Also, the higher your heart rate, the more calories you are burning. There is a myth that working at a lower heart rate is better because you are burning a greater percentage of fat. While you are burning a greater percentage of fat, you are not burning nearly as many calories. The calories you don’t use are going to be stored as fat anyways. It is about burning total calories. Not only will you have to work out longer if you choose to stay at a low intensity, but you also will not receive any cardiovascular benefits.
That doesn’t mean to just jump on a treadmill and start sprinting. You have to build yourself up. A beginner should start out at around a 50% intensity, while a more trained individual might be upwards of 70% depending on which method they use to determine their desired intensity. The Karvonen formula is more accurate but you can use either of the 2 following formulas to determine your desired intensity:
Finding your HR using the Karvonen Formula:
1. Max HR(220-age) – resting HR = HRR(Heart Rate Reserve)
2. HRR – resting HR x intensity (50% – 85%, or .5 – .85) + resting HR =
Finding your HR using the Age Predicted Maximal:
1. Max HR(220-age) x intensity (50% – 75%, or .5 – .75) =
About this Author
After graduating from the National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) in Richmond Heights Ohio, Mat sat for and passed the test to earn his CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist). After spending over one and a half years of training in a gym setting, and becoming and instructor at NPTI, Matt started MK Fitness as a one-on-one or small group personal training company.
I never regret it when I do it, but I always regret it when I don’t.