Best Pace to Burn Fat on Treadmill

Best treadmill pace for Fat burning

Best Treadmill Pace for Fat Burning

If you’re looking to burn fat on the treadmill, great! You’ve actually chosen the best cardio machine to do it in.

A recent study has indicated that the treadmill is more effective than the elliptical or rower at burning fat during workouts.

The treadmill remains the most efficient modality to increase fat oxidation during exercise and should be considered in training design for those looking to maintain a healthy metabolic profile.”

So, what is the right pace for burning fat? Well, on a treadmill it’s actually easy to find and has more to do with heart rate than anything. This guide aims to decipher the best treadmill pace for optimal fat burning, allowing you to harness the most from your workouts.

See also: Burn Fat on Rowing Machine

Basics of Fat Burning

Before diving into treadmill paces, let’s understand how the body burns fat. Our body sources energy primarily from carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are quickly accessed, while fats require more oxygen and time to process. The speed at which you exercise plays a pivotal role in determining which energy source is predominantly used.

Factors such as age, gender, and fitness level can affect the rate at which one burns fat. For instance, seasoned athletes might tap into their fat reserves faster than novices.

Carbohydrates are the first source of energy that your body uses. Once carbohydrates are depleted, your body begins to rely on fat. With the right heart rate, you can actually change the source of energy your body leans towards.

Here’s how.

The Science of Fat Burning Zones

The term ‘fat burning zone’ refers to a specific heart rate window where the body primarily uses fat as its energy source. This typically occurs at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). While this doesn’t mean you won’t burn fat outside this zone, it suggests that a larger percentage of your calories burned in this zone will come from fat.

So, if you’re looking to burn fat specifically, you need to target this zone.

Take a look at the following chart. It’s probably not unfamiliar to you. You can see the different heart rate zones, and their corresponding effects on the body. Zone 1 would be the ‘Fat Burning Zone.’

Heart Rate Zone: Heart Rate Monitor for Treadmill


How to Find the Best Treadmill Pace for Fat Burning

To find your fat-burning zone, you first need to calculate your MHR, or maximum heart rate. Now, to truly know your maximum heart rate would involve a series of tests that you probably don’t have time for. However, a really common method is to subtract your age from 220. For a 30-year-old, the MHR would be roughly 190 beats per minute (bpm). 

Your fat burning zone, in this case, would be between 95 bpm (50% of MHR) and 133 bpm (70% of MHR). Once you’ve identified your heart rate range, you can adjust your treadmill pace to stay within this window. Remember, this is a guideline, and individual variations can occur.

To get your heart rate, you can check your heart rate manually through a timed pulse check, use a heart rate monitor, or sometimes the treadmill has a heart rate monitor in the grip.

Benefits of Training in the Fat Burning Zone

While high-intensity workouts have gained popularity due to their calorie-torching abilities, training in the fat burning zone – that is, at a moderate intensity level of around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate – offers a myriad of advantages that are worth exploring. These benefits make the fat burning zone an essential component of a balanced fitness regimen.

Optimal Fat Utilization: As the name suggests, the fat burning zone promotes the body’s utilization of stored fat as a primary energy source. When working at a moderate intensity, the body has enough oxygen to convert stored fat into energy. In contrast, higher intensity workouts often rely more on carbohydrates for quick energy.

Prolonged Endurance: Training in the fat burning zone allows for longer and more sustained workouts. Since it’s a lower intensity compared to something like HIIT, individuals can maintain their pace for extended periods without feeling overly fatigued. This prolonged endurance training can be particularly beneficial for athletes or hobbyists preparing for endurance events like marathons or long-distance cycling.

Conservation of Muscle Glycogen: Muscle glycogen is like your body’s backup generator. While fat is the primary fuel in the fat burning zone, the body conserves its limited muscle glycogen stores for later use. Conserving glycogen is crucial because once these stores deplete, muscle fatigue sets in, making it harder to maintain exercise intensity.

Improved Mitochondrial Function: If you remember from 10th grade biology “Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells”, responsible for producing energy. Training in the fat burning zone can increase both mitochondrial density and efficiency, meaning your body becomes better at producing energy, especially from fat stores. This improvement results in better stamina and performance over time.

Reduced Risk of Injury: High-intensity workouts, especially when done repeatedly without adequate recovery, can increase the risk of injuries. In contrast, training in the fat burning zone is gentler on the joints and muscles. This reduced strain makes it a safer option for those prone to injuries, beginners, or individuals recovering from an injury.

Better Recovery: Following a workout in the fat burning zone, recovery times are generally quicker. The lower intensity means less muscle tear and wear, allowing athletes and fitness enthusiasts to bounce back faster, ready for their next session. This is particularly beneficial for those who prefer daily workouts.

Enhanced Mental Well-being: Exercising at a moderate intensity in the fat burning zone can be meditative for many. The rhythmic and sustained nature of such workouts allows for introspection, promoting mental clarity and stress relief. Plus, the release of endorphins, often referred to as the “feel-good” hormones, during any exercise, including those in the fat burning zone, can uplift mood and combat feelings of depression or anxiety.

Flexibility in Exercise Options: Training in the fat burning zone isn’t restricted to the treadmill. This intensity can be maintained in various activities like brisk walking, light jogging, swimming, cycling, or even dancing. This variety means individuals can choose exercises that they enjoy, leading to better adherence and long-term commitment.

Foundation Building: For fitness novices or those getting back into the groove after a long break, training in the fat burning zone provides an excellent foundation. It helps in building cardiovascular endurance and muscle memory before transitioning to more challenging workouts.

Other Effective Treadmill Workouts for Fat Loss

Apart from the fat burning zone, other treadmill exercises can effectively torch calories:

  • Interval Training: Alternating between high and low intensities, this method helps in burning more calories during and post-workout.

  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): A more intense version of interval training where you push close to your maximum effort for short bursts, followed by rest.

  • Incline Workouts: Using the treadmill’s incline feature can simulate uphill workouts, intensifying your session and burning more calories.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Pace

To ensure you’re on the right track, regular progress checks are paramount. Fitness trackers and heart rate monitors can provide insights into heart rate zones, calories burned, and distance covered. If you notice plateauing, it might be time to adjust your treadmill pace or incorporate different training techniques.

Supplementary Tips for Enhanced Fat Loss

Apart from treadmill workouts, there are a variety of approaches you can take to ensure you’re maximizing your fat loss journey.

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure you’re consuming a balanced diet, rich in proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

  • Strength Training: Incorporate weight lifting to build muscle, which in turn boosts your resting metabolic rate.

  • Rest and Recovery: Your muscles rebuild and recover during rest. Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep and interspersing hard workout days with lighter ones.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I always train in my fat burning zone? 

No, a mix of intensities promotes overall fitness and prevents plateaus. A well balanced workout routine includes targeting multiple heart rate zones.

Can I lose weight without focusing on the fat burning pace? 

Absolutely! Overall caloric expenditure and diet play vital roles.

How long should I work out in my fat burning zone?

Start with 20-30 minutes and gradually increase, aiming for sessions lasting up to an hour for optimal benefits.


Finding the best treadmill pace for fat burning can significantly optimize your workouts. While it’s a valuable tool, remember that a holistic approach encompassing diet, diverse workouts, and rest is pivotal for sustainable fat loss.

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