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Losing Weight After 30: What is my target cardio heart rate?

Joggers running in a "Glow Run"
Joggers running in a "Glow Run"
Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Losing Weight After 30: What is my target cardio heart rate?

I hate this question. Because really, it just leads me to a string of other questions:

Well, how old are you? Do you have any injuries? Are you training for anything? Do you have any health issues? Do you want to lose fat, keep your heart healthy or just keep up with your kids?

Not knowing you or your personal goals, I can at least answer the following questions:

“How do I know when I have reached a good heart rate for fat loss?”

When you are leisurely strolling. Seriously. You burn fat at lower intensities.

“Oh, so should I do a cardio workout at all?”

Yes, definitely. At least twice a week.


Because when a bomb explodes on the 17th floor of your building, and you’re on the 16th, and you see your best friend’s legs are torn to bits by shrapnel, you have to be able to carry her down 16 flights of stairs without dying. That’s why.

And you’ll save yourself being medicated for high blood pressure and possibly needing bypass surgery. And it makes you feel good. No really. Cardio workouts are a happiness generator .Also you WILL burn calories which eventually burn fat.

“Okay, so when I’m doing a cardio workout, how do I know I’m working hard enough?”

Restated: “What is my ideal heart rate for an aerobic workout?”

You’ll notice that every treadmill and piece of cardio equipment in your gym has that ever-so-helpful graph on it and if you can manage to hang on to the handles while you’re huffing and puffing (don’t: it damages your form), you can get a heart rate reading that will tell you what “zone” you are in.

Every time I use those things, I get discouraged. Maybe they are accurate for some people. But they are calculated using massively generalized averages. According to those things I am in the red zone from the first instant I break a sweat. Plus, when you’re just out jogging with your dogs, how do you know?

I have created this innovative and high-tech process for determining when you have reached your ideal cardio level. In order to participate in this highly complex method, you must ask yourself one question:

Can you talk?

Ok, smart-aleck aside, the Talk Test is actually a tried and true test used by fitness professionals. If you are trying to determine if you are actually having an impact on your cardio health, but not going too far, the test could not be simpler.

Pretend you are running next to your best friend that you can always find a million things to say to. Do you comfortably carry on a conversation with her? Then you are being lazy. Take it up a notch. Push yourself harder.

Is it actually impossible for you to get a word out? You’ve overdone it. Take it down to a more comfortable level.

If you CAN talk, but don’t really want to (i.e. you would only say something to your bestie if she was about to jog through dog poo) then you are in your ideal cardio zone. Individualized and customized just for YOU. This is where YOU should be.

Any other questions?

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