Cardio-Machine Modes

Get the most out of your cardio sessions with these simple mode-setting pointers from expert Meaghan Shea

January 12, 2013

A lot of women rely on the cardio and fat-burning modes on treadmills and ellipticals to
 burn fat and improve heart health. But what
 do these settings mean, and do they really work? To set the record straight, we brought in Meaghan Shea, M.A., C.S.C.S., M.E.S., education coordinator at Focus Personal Training Institute, for a rundown of each mode.

“The heart-rate zones are really arbitrary. While reaching high heart rates will certainly cause the heart to become more efficient at pumping blood, these cardiovascular adaptations also occur at lower heart rates. High-intensity, short-duration, low-intensity, long-duration, and even circuit strength training all demand increased oxygenated blood flow. In general, you should work 
at a heart rate that mimics what you
 want to achieve.”

“Fat loss is typically thought to occur at lower heart rates during low-intensity exercise. But this is also misleading, as body-fat loss is dependent on total caloric expenditure. You might burn 70% of your calories from fat in the ‘fat-loss’ zone and only 40% from fat in the ‘cardio zone,’ but if you burn only 100 calories doing fat-loss training and 300 calories in cardio mode, you really burn more total fat doing cardio training."