Everyone is talking about Zone 2 training. What is it? First, its important to understand that I show 5 training zones here. Other sources use 6 zones, still others 4, and others zone 7… so we’re already not talking about the same thing. Is Zone 2 Best for Fat Burning in Menopause?
“Zone 2” for fat burning is a bit of a myth
Exercise at lower intensities burns a high percentage of fat.
Exercise at high intensities burns a low percentage of fat.
Though it’s possible to train in a way that allows your body to gradually continue to use fat at higher intensities, it’s a process and many are skipping ahead to higher intensity exercise or just experiencing DRIFT.. where they do it long enough that their heart rate and intensity goes up from the stress and dehydration… instead of consciously keeping comfort level (talk test, breathing through nose AND Heart rate if known from testing) where it should be to train a base.
The thing to remember (written in 2015 in You Still Got It, Girl!) is that a small percent of a bigger number can still be more than a big percent of a small number.
AND… it’s not the exercise time alone that you want to focus on. HIIT has a bigger post-exercise “after burn.”
However, what is most important… is this:
If you’re stressed… the HIIT-imposed stress may be too much (during adrenal or chronic fatigue) … and or if situational life stresses are HIGH.. the intensity of your exercise should potentially be lower to REDUCE CORTISOL and INFLAMMATION first… before adding the HIIT.
For most women… zone 2 is walking but not jogging. It’s often impossible to keep the HR low enough to be training ZONE 2 while running. Even though you “feel” good…. if the cardiac drift is enough, you’re in zone 3… and cortisol is elevated. This definitely happens as you approach 60 minutes and certainly beyond. Heat, dehydration, sleep deprivation or emotional stressors can also increase the intensity.
At true ZONE 2… staying low enough for short enough times, zone 2’s biggest benefit is NOT burning fat for fuel. It’s REDUCING cortisol levels by moving at a low level, reducing blood sugar levels, and creating a base to build greater fitness.
Women Already Burn More Fat Than Men at Any Given Exercise Intensity
Ollie Chrzanowski-Smith from the University of Bath explains: “Our study found that females typically have a greater reliance upon fat as a fuel source during exercise than males. Understanding the mechanisms behind these sex differences in fuel use may help explain why being female seems to confer a metabolic advantage for insulin sensitivity, an important marker of metabolic health.”
What About Strength Training – Does it Support Fat Burning in Midlife?
Traditionally we don’t think of weight training as Zone intensity using Heart Rate to tell intensity, but number of repetitions to fatigue and volume in terms of multiple sets (not time). So your heart rate will soar during a set and return to zone 1 between, mimicking true HIIT, but it isn’t the point of strength. Your evaluation there is based on reaching muscular fatigue in recommended repetitions. Beginners start with more not less. You’ve got to show some love and respect your joints and ligaments before your strength training will help you love your muscle and body composition.
- Oliver J. Chrzanowski-Smith, Robert M. Edinburgh, Mark P. Thomas, Aaron Hengist, Sean Williams, James A. Betts, Javier T. Gonzalez. Determinants of Peak Fat Oxidation Rates During Cycling in Healthy Men and Women. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2020; 1 DOI: 10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0262
- Oliver J Chrzanowski‐Smith, Robert M Edinburgh, Eleanor Smith, Mark P Thomas, Jean‐Philippe Walhin, Francoise Koumanov, Sean Williams, James A Betts, Javier T Gonzalez. Resting skeletal muscle ATGL and CPT1b are associated with peak fat oxidation rates in men and women but do not explain observed sex differences. Experimental Physiology, 2021; DOI: 10.1113/EP089431
Other Episodes You May Like:
5 Keys for Building Muscle After Menopause | More Fat Burning & Fat Loss
Endurance Exercise During Menopause: Fat or Fat Burning?
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