Dr. Philip Maffetone is a bit of a household name amongst runners. Hemagellan believes that doing the least harm to one’s body by monitoring effort via heart rate leads to improved athletic performances.  The method is simple:  determine the heart rate at which one’s body most efficiently burns fat, and then train at or below that threshold (the aerobic zone).  Whenever an individual trains in the zone above the fat-burning threshold (the anaerobic zone), he or she is more likely to become injured, over-trained, or burned out on running.  From a biochemical standpoint, training in the aerobic zone will cause the body to burn fat for fuel, not carbohydrates.  When training in the anaerobic zone, the body requires more carbohydrates, and thus leads to sugar cravings.  Maffetone asserts that burning fat is better for the body than burning carbs, because quick carbohydrates, like sugar, raise the body’s insulin levels and decrease one’s ability to metabolize fat.  Therefore, quick carbohydrates are deemed “bad” foods if following this training regimen.

To begin heart rate training, all that is necessary is a heart rate monitor and to know one’s maximum aerobic heart rate.  The calculation for maximum aerobic heart rate is simple:

1. Subtract your age from 180
2. If you are recovering from a major illness, subtract an additional 10
3. If you are injured/out of shape, have allergies, asthma, or easily become ill, subtract an additional 5
4. If you have been training consistently for more than 2 years, and have improved without injury, add 5

Therefore, for a healthy 40 year old, maximum aerobic heart rate is 140.