Finding the Fat Burning Zone

My heart rate monitor has sat unloved in the bottom of a drawer ever since I did a 100 mile sportive two summers ago. I’m not a big training for training’s sake person and prefer to get my exercise in a stealthy way – by making it useful, fun, or both. 

However, since reading about the Primal Blueprint, I’ve become interested in heart rate zones – but not in terms of finding some high intensity training zone – quite the opposite. What I needed to do was get a handle on which zone I was in when doing my normal everyday exercise, which is walking and cycling.

So today, I wore a heart rate monitor. Just a basic Polar monitor, with no fancy zone alarms and stuff. There’s a note in Rivendell Reader 41 about using a simple HRM to discover the relationship between your heart rate zones and your perceived effort. 

I figured that my normal commuting pace would put me slap in the middle of the 50–70% fat burning zone, which would make the most of my primary Primal fuel source (dietary fat and adipose tissue – body fat). 

Using 220 minus my age as the rule of thumb (the thought of a ramp test fills me with dread) I calculated that this for me was between 92 and 128 BPM. What surprised me was that I had to back off considerably with my effort to stay within this zone on hills and into headwinds.

I’ve heard experienced road riders talk about building base fitness in this zone and using an adage that states ‘if it doesn’t feel hard enough, it’s about right’. This was right on the money.

Combining my walking and cycling I’m getting about 1 ½ per day in this zone, with occasional efforts at around 85-90 percent on hills, which combined with some bodyweight resistance sessions should fit just right with the Primal way of things. All of this without ‘dressing as an exerciser’, buying a gym membership or setting aside specific exercise time. 

I can hear pieces falling into place. 


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