Trainer Tip of the Week

Few things scare me: Snakes, The Hills Have Eyes, sky diving and Jillian Michaels. If you’ve seen any episode of The Biggest Loser you know her as the tough trainer with chiseled arms and an intimidating tone. But she's good at her job and being scared skinny isn’t the worst thing in the world – as many of The Biggest Loser contestants can attest to.

Jillian is joining us today with a tip on getting in shape:

“Intensity is what is going to get you to your fitness goals. You should work at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate to burn the most calories in the shortest possible time,” Jillian suggests.

You won’t burn enough calories if you train below your target heart rate, but if you work out too hard you’ll start burning calories anaerobically, meaning inefficiently.

Don’t know how to measure your intensity? has a great reference guide for this.

Maximum heart rate
To find your maximum heart rate, take your age, subtract it from 220 and the number you’re left with is your maximum heart rate. So for me, being 27, my maximum heart rate should be 193. And 85% of my maximum heart rate would be 164 beats per minute. If you’re 50 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220 – 50 = 170, so 85% of your maximum heart rate would be 144 beats per minute.

This is something you’d have to work up to. Don’t expect – or try – to join a gym and hit a high heart rate on day 1.

Talk Test
But you don’t always need numbers to calculate how hard you’re working out. There’s also the very scientific method called the Talk Test. Now this is very complicated, so you may want to write this down: If you can sing or gab comfortably you’re not working out hard enough. Conversely, if you’re channeling a cave man and can only say one word at a time, you’re working out too hard. You should be able to speak, but not carry on a conversation.

Try to maintain this intensity for at least 20 minutes, 3-5 days a week. If you’ve just ditched your sweat pants to sweat in spandex, I’d suggest not paying any attention to what I just told you. Set your own pace at first. Worrying too much about numbers and heart rates may be overwhelming and drive you right back to the Ding Dongs. But after you’ve got a routine going, amp up your intensity to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Previous Post: Diets are a drag

Labels: , , ,